Located within Associations (and Conferences acting as Associations), Committees on Ministry embody the crux of the United Church of Christ's covenantal relationships. At their best, the committees invite and facilitate critical participation of authorized ministers, calling bodies, Members in Discernment, lay leaders, Associations and Conferences in that covenant in order to foster the relationships needed for healthy and effective ministries. Promoting and clarifying the Committee on Ministry role to local congregations can benefit those covenantal relationships; sample brochures from York Association (Maine Conference) and Western Association (New York Conference) can be adapted by COMs for this purpose.
Committee on Ministry members are encouraged to receive the new COMma, a monthly email from the national MESA team (Ministerial Excellence, Support and Authorization) highlighting resources, ministry trends, and opportunities for networking on critical issues. Longtime members of Committees on Ministry may remember the monthly PLL Bulletin distributions from 2000-2011. Complete the following survey to sign up for COMma:
For orientation to Committee on Ministry work:
Members of Committees on Ministry can explore their vocation and the basics of their work using the Committee on Ministry Toolkit, a comprehensive and interactive resource designed to aid in the training of Committees on Ministry. The COM Toolkit includes orientation resources for new committee members, case studies, guidelines for ministerial oversight, scholarship and education programs for Members in Discernment, and a breadth of forms needed for Committee on Ministry Work.
The foundational Manual on Ministry is available online, as is a compilation of UCC polity resources. Both the COM Toolkit and the Manual on Ministry are useful webpages for Committee on Ministry members to bookmark.
Also useful to Committees on Ministry is the discernment resource, Marks of Faithful and Effective Authorized Ministers, developed from the 2005 Pronouncement on Ministry Issues. In particular, Committees on Ministry might use the Marks Assessment Rubric and Journaling the Journey for concrete application of the Marks in conversation with Members in Discernment and authorized ministers.
For work with those seeking ministerial standing:
Covenant of Discernment and Formation: Preparing for Authorized Ministry in the United Church of Christ [PDF]
This brochure overviews the process of discernment and the roles of each partner covenanting in this stage of preparation for authorized ministry in the UCC.
Regional Theological Education Programs
There are a variety of UCC-sponsored and other regional education programs available locally. Some of their offerings may be appropriate for part of the preparation for authorized ministry; other RTEP offerings may be used for continuing education of authorized persons. Contact your local Association and/or Conference for additional information about RTEP opportunities.
Dual Standing and Privilege of Call [PDF]
This document clarifies the distinction between "dual standing" and "privilege of call" within the United Church of Christ for those ordained in denominations other than the UCC.
Formula of Agreement/Orderly Exchange (FOA) [PDF]
Significant understandings have been developed between the UCC, Presbyterian Church (USA), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Reformed Church in America, whereby we recognize and honor each other's faith, practice and ministries. The Formula of Agreement for the Orderly Exchange of Ordained Ministers allows ministers of one denomination to be invited to consider serving a congregation in one of the other denominations. Such invitations are extended by judicatory staff, thus allowing ministers in one denomination to serve congregations in another denomination. Conference or association staff can assist ministers seeking more information.
Formula of Agreement/Orderly Exchange (FOA) and Ordained Ministerial Partner Standing (OMPS) [PDF]
There are distinct differences between the FOA and OMPS agreements. The former agreement, between UCC, Presbyterian Church USA, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Reformed Church in America, provides the opportunity for the minister of one denomination to be invited to consider serving a church on one of the other denominations. The latter agreement with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) provides opportunity for ministers in each denomination to search for a position in the other communion. This document outlines the processes to be followed for the FOA/Orderly Exchange and OMPS. Conference or association staff can assist those seeking more information.
For work with authorized ministers:
Information Review Form for UCC Ministers [PDF]
The regular information review between authorized ministers and Committees on Ministry is a basic tool for attending mutually to the covenantal relationship.
Support for a Fitness Review [PDF]
On-site training for COMs, Conference staff, and Conference or Association Response Teams regarding the work of situational and fitness reviews is available from the MESA team. The training offers an introduction to the principles, priorities and processes of a fitness review. To schedule a training, contact MESA team leader Holly MillerShank.
Per Section 3 of the Manual on Ministry, "a four-way covenant is motivated by the Church's conviction that ordained ministers in ministries other than in local churches need to be active and participating members of a local church of the United Church of Christ and that calling bodies have the responsibility to the ecclesiastical system when they employ an ordained minister." Four-way covenants are written uniquely according to the setting of ministry and in conversation between the minister, Association, local church and place of ministry/employment, as a matter of both support and standing. Sample four-way covenants include a covenant for judicatory ministry and a covenant for hospital chaplaincy.
Government and Professional Endorsement
Ecclesiastical endorsement is verification by the denomination, to a government or professional organization, of an authorized minister's good standing, experience and maturity. Not all employers require ecclesiastical endorsement. Sample endorsement letters and application forms are included on the Ecclesiastical Endorsement page.
Boundary Awareness Training
Committees on Ministry and Associations/Conferences often cooperate in planning boundary awareness training for authorized ministers. Please review these Marks of Faithful and Effective Boundary Awareness Trainers when planning such events; these guidelines have been developed by the Ministerial Excellence, Support & Authorization (MESA) Team.
For work with congregations:
Manual on Church: Perspectives and Procedures for Association and Local Church Covenantal Partners [PDF]
This resource explores the covenantal relationships between local congregations and Associations (or Conferences acting as Associations). It is to be used by and with Committees on the Ministry, Association and Conference staff, and local church leaders to foster dialogue and increased understanding of what it means to "walk together in all God's ways" as expressions of the church.
Ministry During the Interim Time [PDF]
A guideline of expectations for interim ministry, including observations on the accountability of interim ministers (especially useful to Committees on Ministry) and the compensation of interim ministers (especially insightful for congregations in transition).
Considering a New Church Covenant in the United Church of Christ [PDF]
This booklet describes a process of mutual exploration which will help a non-affiliated church explore the United Church of Christ along with a UCC Association. The goal of the exploration process is to decide whether to enter into a formal covenanted relationship. See also the page for congregations considering ministry within the United Church of Christ.
Congregations Sharing Ministry
Two primary documents are available for congregations considering sharing programming, staff, space and/or merged ministry. GEMS (God's Ecumenical Ministry Shared) is for churches of different denominations considering shared ministry. Getting Together: Models and Processes for Local Church Cooperation describes five different models to consider (Yoked, Cluster, Federated, Union and Consolidated) and some considerations for collaborating.
When a Church Leaves the Denomination [PDF]
A 2004 address by Barnet M. McKee to the Council of Conference Ministers.
"The gifts Christ gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ." - Ephesians 4:11-12