Written by Rachel Hackenberg
To our colleagues on Committees on Ministry,
Last month, the Habakkuk Group (the 17-person committee charged with re-visioning the Manual on Ministry) had its third gathering in Cleveland. Since the Habakkuk Group first met in June 2014, much of our time has been spent on the work of grounding our understanding of authorized ministry deeply in our theological, biblical & historical traditions, with attention to and ongoing questions about our present and future contexts for authorized ministry. I continue to be in awe & gratitude for the rich presence of Spirit in the Habakkuk Group’s first year of this grounding work; these are not theoretical examinations by the group but very spiritual (and often very spirited), faithful conversations.
At the Habakkuk Group's most recent meeting, we focused especially on the three forms of authorized ministry specified in the current manual (ordained, licensed and commissioned), and we affirmed the importance of Committees on Ministry in the United Church of Christ's covenantal system. The Manual on Ministry (and its future expressions) is a critical resource for COMs, and so the Habakkuk Group is attentive to the needs, challenges and expectations of COMs. The group’s next meeting will be held in October of this year, and until that time, the group has assigned itself to three working groups on the topics of (1) preparation & formation of authorized ministers, (2) covenant responsibilities of Committees on Ministry, and (3) theological & historical grounding of authorized ministry; all three groups are tasked with attentiveness to diversity & multicultural contexts in relationship to the three topics.
As the Habakkuk Group builds upon these grounding conversations, we will begin to widen our conversational circle in several intentional ways, starting with a meet-and-greet opportunity at General Synod for all those who are interested in talking with members of the Habakkuk Group. If you are attending Synod next month, I hope that you will come to the meet-and-greet event on Friday evening, June 26, from 5:00 – 7:00pm to add your voice, your wisdom and your feedback to the conversation. The gathering will be held in the convention center; simply check your Synod program book for the assigned room.
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