Written by Rachel Hackenberg
To our Committee on Ministry colleagues,
The work of conducting a Fitness Review is one of the more spiritually, emotionally, and logistically taxing responsibilities of Committees on Ministry. Fitness Reviews require extensive coordination of & communication with individuals (from the Response Team to the minister under question, from the person raising the concern to the congregation where the minister holds membership), a thoughtful balance between information-gathering and confidentiality, a wellspring of prayer on the part of Committee members, and the difficult tasks of truth-telling and truth-hearing and truth-discerning.
The MESA Ministry Team along with your conference & association ministers support COMs' undertaking of a Fitness Review through training, presence, and guiding resources. Those resources include:
• Guidelines for Committees on Ministry during a Fitness Review, a supporting document to Section 8
• the Fitness Review Reporting Form, a communication that occurs immediately from a conference/association to the MESA Team when a Fitness Review is initiated (and again when the initial outcome is determined, and once more when the final outcome is determined)
• a sample Fitness Review Process Chart outlining the steps and persons involved in a Fitness Review
• a quick reference sheet on the Roles of the Response Team
• the parameters for Fitness Review Appeals, with recommendations for formal adoption by the association and COM
• a sample Media Guide for those Fitness Reviews that garner public attention
The United Church of Christ through Local Church Ministries recently released a discussion guide of the movie Spotlight to encourage discussion in our congregations and Committees on Ministry about the seriousness of allegations of clergy pedophilia & abuse of children. MESA especially highlights this resource for your attention, believing that the safety of children is well worth every Committee’s time in ongoing education.
As always, MESA is here to support you through Fitness Reviews and through all your work.
Peace and grace,
The Rev. Rachel G. Hackenberg
Minister for Committee on Ministry Resources & Conference Support
Ministerial Excellence, Support & Authorization (MESA) Team
Local Church Ministries, United Church of Christ