Written by Rachel Hackenberg
Dear Committee on Ministry colleagues,
What does discernment look like in your Committee’s work?
Discernment defines and undergirds the work of every Committee on Ministry, from ministerial authorization to ministerial oversight and everything in between. But what does discernment look like and how is it practiced in your Committee?
Often in our Committees on Ministry, discernment looks like an agenda – a very full agenda! Discernment also looks like the faces of each COM member, of the Association and Conference staff who join you at the table, and of the individuals who meet with you for authorization and oversight. Many times, discernment sounds like conversations and hard questions and occasional laughter around our meeting tables. Discernment also sounds like the prayers we say at the start of our Committee meetings. And I’m going to guess that discernment smells like coffee at the majority of our COM meetings.
Can discernment also sound like silence in our meetings?
Does discernment sound like "No" occasionally, or even "We don’t know"?
Could discernment look like a break in the COM meeting during which each person walks the halls or the grounds or the labyrinth of the church where you meet?
Might discernment look like a Bible study among the Committee members or a conversation about the theological foundations of the UCC Constitution & Bylaws?
Might discernment occasionally taste like salty tears if we took time to share the depths of our faith stories around our COM tables?
I know, discernment looks like a very full agenda for many Committees on Ministry, but the agenda represents the spiritual, theological, ecclesial work to which we are called as COMs: the discernment of God’s movement in and through authorized ministry in the United Church of Christ. You can find tools for your committee’s discernment work in the online Committee on Ministry Toolkit, a resource that was developed from the Ministry Issues Pronouncement and subsequent Implementation Committee, and in the workbook Journaling the Journey.
May the work of discernment not only support your Committee on Ministry tasks, but also nurture your relationships with one another around the meeting table and encourage your ongoing engagement with God.
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