Marks of Faithful and Effective Ministry
AUTHORIZED MINISTERS OF THE UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST
Revised, April 2009
SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION FOR MINISTRY
1. A lived faith showing love of God, trust in Jesus, and openness to the Holy Spirit.
2. Devotion to the word of God as revealed through scripture and Christian traditions.
3. Commitment to life‐long spiritual growth and practice, individually and in community.
4. A sense of being called by God and the community to authorized ministry in the church.
5. Openness to continuing discernment of one’s call in community.
UCC IDENTITY FOR MINISTRY
1. Acknowledgment of Jesus Christ as sole Head of the Church.
2. A passion for the oneness of the body of Christ as expressed through commitment to ecumenism, justice, and the full embrace of all persons in the radical hospitality of God.
3. Active membership in a local church of the United Church of Christ.
4. An understanding of the concept of covenant and how it informs the nature, purpose, and polity of the United Church of Christ.
5. A willingness to live in the covenants of mutual accountability that characterize authorized ministry in the United Church of Christ.
6. Ongoing demonstration of commitment to the United Church of Christ.
7. Stewardship of resources, including financial support of the church in all of its settings.
8. Participation in the various settings of the United Church of Christ, including the conference/association and local church.
9. to articulate diverse histories that comprise the United Church of Christ, to situate them in the broader evolution of faith traditions and to relate them to the theology, polity, and practices of the Member’s local church, association, and conference.
10. to explain and work within the current polity of the UCC and its denominational structure, and to describe the covenantal relationships among the General Synod, national setting, conferences, associations, and local congregations of the UCC.
11. to share key elements of the UCC’s statement of faith, constitution with its preamble, and bylaws regarding the governance, mission, and theologies of the UCC and their implications for the life of the church.
12. to articulate the UCC’s commitment to being a united and uniting, multiracial and multicultural, open and affirming, accessible to all and just peace church.
13. to envision how the UCC in its various settings may respond to religious, social, economic, and political trends, changing demographics, and other emerging factors.
14. to use and promote the informational and educational resources available through UCC publications and websites.
PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL FORMATION FOR MINISTRY
1. A healthy sense of self as shaped by God, community, and personal experience.
2. A sense of theological identity and authority, while being responsive to the opinions and values of others, including those whom the Member will serve.
3. A healthy awareness of strengths, weaknesses and limits, and assumption of responsibility for one’s body, mind and spirit.
4. Knowledge and observance of personal and professional boundaries in interpersonal, congregational, and community settings.
5. A commitment to continuing education, professional development, and life‐long learning.
6. Demonstrated moral maturity, including integrity in personal and public life and responsibility to self, family, church, and community.
7. to affirm the identities of others, including others very unlike oneself.
8. to engage in self‐reflection and to seek and use feedback from others appropriately.
9. to engage productively in public discourse, expecting to grow and be transformed through the exchange of viewpoints.
10. to take initiative in leadership, and to frame and test a vision in community.
11. to listen empathically, communicate appropriately, and keep appropriate confidences.
12. to function as part of a team, to give and receive supervision, and to mutually equip and motivate the community of faith.
13. to be resourceful and adaptable, and know where to locate additional resources and seek consultation when needed.
14. to accept and promote diversity, to inspire others to do so, and to minister in a multicultural and multiracial, open and affirming, just peace, accessible to all, united and uniting church.
KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS FOR MINISTRY
General Knowledge and Skills
1. to understand and appreciate a variety of perspectives of life.
2. to understand the profound differences that physical, psychological, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, class, cultural, religious, racial, and ethnic factors make in the ways that human beings experience the world.
3. to comprehend the impact of historical change upon the thoughts, feelings, and actions of individuals and societies.
4. to perceive how a person’s perspectives and interests shape communication, and to appreciate the virtues and limitations of those perspectives and interests.
5. to grasp and evaluate the justifications that people give for their opinions.
6. to apply basic concepts of psychology to the understanding of oneself, others, and human interactions.
7. to appreciate the importance of symbols and images in human culture(s).
8. to understand various meanings and purposes of the arts.
9. to analyze social, political, environmental, and economic dynamics, using the tools of the social and natural sciences.
10. to use respectfully and relationally a basic knowledge of specific human cultures.
11. to communicate clearly and effectively with appropriate media and technologies.
Knowledge and Skills Specific to Authorized Ministry
1. A thorough knowledge of, and personal engagement with, the Bible.
2. Skill with methods of biblical interpretation, including the historic interpretive traditions of the church and contemporary methods, particularly those from historically underrepresented communities.
3. A deepening familiarity with the global history of the Christian churches through the ages and across cultures, including the newest Christian populations, and an understanding of the evolution of Christian communities in the United States.
4. A deepening familiarity with contemporary theological ways of thinking and with the rich and varied theological heritages, creeds, liturgies, and spiritual practices of the Christian churches.
5. An understanding of other religions and their foundational documents.
6. to articulate a theological understanding of authorized ministry, and to relate it to the practice of ministry.
7. to analyze, evaluate, and integrate the biblical, historical, theological, and pastoral disciplines and practices in ways that contribute to fruitful and faithful Christian ministry.
8. to understand the nature, use, and misuse of power and authority, and to exercise them appropriately and effectively in authorized ministry.
9. to engage in community leadership that is collaborative and transformative.
10. to engage in respectful ecumenical and interfaith dialogue.
11. to celebrate the unique features of local faith communities while encouraging them to be receptive to perspectives from the broader church and world.
12. to appreciate, practice, and pass on traditions of faith while interpreting them in light of the context of a diverse and changing world.
13. to adapt the practices of ministry to the unique social, cultural, environmental and ecclesiastical aspects of particular settings.
14. to discern God’s mission in the world and, in response, to lead ministries of compassion, nurture, justice, and proclamation that support fullness of life for all people.
15. to preach the good news, lead worship and participate in the sacraments in a manner faithful to the broader Christian heritage and appropriate to the characteristics of a specific culture and setting.
16. to provide effective and appropriate pastoral care and Christian education, and to equip and motivate others to share in these ministries.
17. to organize and implement programs, administer the operations of a complex organization, and initiate change when appropriate.
18. to read the contexts of a community’s ministry and creatively lead that community through change or conflict.
19. to lead and encourage ministries of evangelism, service, stewardship and social transformation.
20. to understand and participate in the financial administration of the church and other religious organizations.
“What are the basic qualifications for ordination?”
The basic qualifications generally required of all ordained ministers include:
▪membership in a Local Church of the United Church of Christ;
▪demonstrated knowledge and affirmation of the history, polity, and practices of the UCC.
In addition, most ordained ministers in the UCC hold a bachelor’s degree and a Master of Divinity degree or have pursued a course of study and formation other than formal degree work that prepares them for service as an ordained minister in their context.
For more information about ordained ministry in the United Church of Christ, you should contact the Conference or Association where you hold UCC membership or obtain the section of the Manual on Ministry (MOM) describing ordained ministry in detail. MOM is available on the UCC website www.ucc.org/ministers or in print for a modest charge from United Church of Christ Resources at 1-800-537-3394. The complete MOM describing all forms of ministry in the UCC is also available both online and in print.
In addition, you might find it useful to become familiar with the ongoing work of the denomination regarding formation for ministry (the “Ministry Issues Project”) by consulting the web page www.ucc.org/ministers/ministry-issues.
Do I have to make this decision alone?
If you continue on a journey toward authorized ministry, you will become a “Member in Discernment” with your Association. See the resources listed above for more information.
Can I get help from the community?
One way to explore whether God is really calling you to authorized ministry is to invite others to work with you as a “discernment committee.” Modeled on the Quaker tradition of the "clearness committee," this group's specific task is to help you listen for God's voice and find some clarity about the nature of God's call in your life.The committee should be small. Ask people who know you reasonably well, for example, your pastor (or another member of the pastoral staff), lay leaders in your church, and a friend or two. Look for people who listen deeply for God in their own lives and can ask insightful questions that will help you clarify your sense of call, your gifts for ministry and those places in you that may need further growth or development.
How often should a discernment committee meet? This is flexible. In the Quaker tradition, a clearness committee meets only once for three hours. However, you might want to spend more time with the committee: quarterly meetings over a year or two works well for some. For others, a useful timetable would be more frequent meetings over a shorter period—once a month for six months, for example. What does the committee do? Their most important role is to listen! They are listening for the voice of God in your life. They will ask questions to help you focus on your discernment. They also might choose to engage in Bible study with you. The committee's purpose is not to tell you what to do or even to give advice. Instead, they should help you find your own clarity about whether you should proceed to the next step: asking your local congregation to recommend you to the Association as an "In Care" student. When this happens, you will have moved on to another stage of discernment. Now your companions on the journey will be your local congregation and the Association. Their task will be to help determine whether the particular call of God in your life is to authorized ministry in and on behalf of the United Church of Christ.
What does a church look for in a minister? Everyone brings his or her own unique gifts and style to ministry, but churches also tend to look for candidates for ministry who: Are spiritually alive. Pastors and other church professionals need to cultivate their life with God. Developing spiritual disciplines and practices, taking time out for retreats, spending time regularly with a spiritual director or spiritual friend for counseling and support, spending time in prayer, meditation and study are "habits of the heart" that help us not only nurture our own life with God but also help us minister more effectively to others. Ministers must first and foremost be in love with God! Have a sense of wonder. Are you someone who can see and sense God's presence in great and small things? Do God's creation and God's people fill you with a feeling of thankfulness, curiosity and awe? These are essential qualities for ministry. Pursue life-long learning. It's not enough to earn the right degrees. Ministers need a love of learning to last a lifetime! Ministers must be always curious and questioning, taking advantage of opportunities to study, grow and develop. This helps clergy to be alive and responsive to the needs of God's people. Are emotionally mature. It is very important for professional church leaders to have dealt with past issues that might otherwise get in the way of their ministry. Clergy must be willing to do their own inner work so they can be fully present to those with whom they minister. Ministers must also be able to recognize, set and maintain appropriate boundaries so they and their congregations can be healthy and safe. Have social skills. In order to really find joy in the vocation of ministry it is important that a minister truly like people. Getting along with people, interacting in a variety of settings, and understanding and facilitating group dynamics are some of the qualities needed by successful clergy. Take UCC identity seriously. If you want to serve as a pastor or in any other authorized ministry in the United Church of Christ, you should be able to say honestly to yourself that you love our denomination. You should know UCC history and polity and be willing to communicate your knowledge and enthusiasm to others. Being connected and staying connected to the whole UCC family as well as our ecumenical partners is part of what it means to be a minister in the UCC.There are other important qualities and skills to consider, but these are some of the basics. Try them on and see how they fit for you!
Do I always need a formal education?
One of the most cherished features of the United Church of Christ and our ancestral denominations has been a learned clergy. As a denomination, however, we increasingly recognize that there are multiple meanings of “learned” and multiple ways to be educated and formed for ministry. Seminary study remains a centerpiece of ministerial preparation but some Associations authorize persons for ministry who have pursued other paths. See www.ucc.org/ministers/ministry-issues.
Can I transfer ministerial standing from another denomination?
If you are already an ordained minister in another church, but are drawn to ordained ministry in the United Church of Christ, transfer of your credentials to a UCC Association may be an option. But first, you should follow these steps: Learn more about the United Church of Christ. Visit our websites at ucc.org, stillspeaking.com and globalministries.org which provide a wealth of information about the past, present and future of our church. Visit and worship with one or more UCC congregations. Use the Find a Church search engine on ucc.org to locate a congregation near you. Introduce yourself to a UCC pastor, or perhaps more than one pastor, who can help give you a broad picture of our denomination. Establish a relationship with a congregation. In some cases it may be necessary to formally become a member of the congregation. The pastor can help you with this decision. Contact an "Association Minister" or "Conference Minister" in your area. Your pastor can give you a reference. Here is a link to help you find the right UCC Conference where you live. The Conference office can then put you in touch with the local Association which normally is the body that confers ministerial standing in the UCC.
How can I contact you if I have more questions?
Minister for Vocation and Formation
Parish Life and Leadership Team
Local Church Ministries
700 Prospect Avenue
Cleveland OH 44115
866-822-8224 x 3841