Written by Rachel Hackenberg
Dear Committee on Ministry colleagues,
I trust that those who attended General Synod 30 have now recovered their energy and that relaxation is finding you each & all in grace-filled ways this summer.
As you well know, the work of Committees on Ministry is ever in dialogue with and responding to the work of General Synod. From MESA Team Leader Holly MillerShank, a reminder of work from General Synod 29 (Long Beach, CA in 2013) that impacts your work as Committees on Ministry:
At the 2013 General Synod, the United Church of Christ affirmed our relationship with The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries (TFAM). Our UCC Interfaith and Ecumenical Officer, the Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson says, "The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries is a multi-denominational group of primarily African American Christian leaders and laity representing churches and faith-based organizations from the USA, Africa and Mexico. The purpose of The Fellowship is to support religious leaders and laity in moving toward a theology of radical inclusivity which, by its very nature, requires an equally radical social ministry reaching to the furthest margins of society to serve all in need without prejudice or discrimination.
"The goals of The Fellowship are to create a safe environment where all can assemble in order to (1) develop a safe space for personal authenticity and open honest exchange; (2) adopt a more inclusive theology; and (3) create a network of collaborative support and practical guidance to prevent isolation and loss, both financially and socially, which typically haunt leaders and their churches as they become more radically inclusive. Some churches and clergy are also members of the United Church of Christ."
General Synod 29's affirmation of the UCC’s relationship with TFAM may increase the requests that Committees on Ministry receive for authorization and/or standing from members of The Fellowship or from Fellowship-connected congregations. Indeed, some of our COMs are already engaged in discernment alongside Fellowship members and churches. MESA encourages Committees on Ministry to practice extravagant welcome in their conversations with TFAM members and congregations, and to engage intentionally with Fellowship leaders in translating any possible differences in polity, theology or authorization.
As always, the MESA Team is available to COMs for support and consultation in your discerning work of authorization & oversight.
Grace to you,
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 ucc.org/ministers