Receiving affirmation that the crucial contributions of their day-to-day administrative work comprise "more than just office work," 43 members of the UCC Office Support Staff Network (UCCOSSN) gathered last month for the group's 23rd annual meeting at the UCC's Church House in Cleveland.
"It was nice to hear from others in the group that we're performing a ministry of our own," says Lettie Eagar, Great Lakes Regional coordinator of UCCOSSN and a member of its newly formed communications team.
Moving forward with a theme of "Together We Can Make a Difference," attendees also concurred that "you have to get us all together first," says Eagar. "The big challenge with our network is that there are 5,000 UCC churches across the country, and there were 43 of us at the meeting. Yes, we represent the 15 conferences and many of our churches, but that's just a drop in the bucket."
In an effort to expand the scope and depth of the network, the group created the position of regional network point person – one for each of the seven UCC regions, says Eagar. "Volunteers will be charged with getting contact information for all support staff who work within conferences and associations throughout their region."
Meeting attendees also voted to add tiers to membership, including levels for supported (dues-paying) membership and alumni; created a three-member communications team to recast the group's web site and explore ways in which to better maintain contact and support; and approved formation of a fundraising team charged with providing scholarship money for annual-meeting attendees and meeting logistics.
Highlight workshop events was an appearance by Dr. Linda Burrs, CEO and principal consultant of Step Up To Success, a consulting firm focusing on leadership and organizational strategies for leaders, teams and individuals. "She was so high energy," says Eagar, "and she really helped to encourage us to build inclusion and diversity."
The group took part in a welcoming reception and dinner with Edith Guffey, UCC associate general minister; met with the Rev. Geoffrey Black, UCC general minister and president; and attended a worship service led by Rev. Paul Sadler of Mt. Zion Congregational UCC in Cleveland.
Hosted in Cleveland every other year, the 2011 meeting will be held April 28-May 1 at First Church of Christ Congregational in North Conway, New Hampshire.
For more information on the UCCOSSN, log on to www.uccossn.org