To our colleagues across the United Church of Christ,
Happy Easter and blessings in this Eastertide.
In 2017, a draft of the re-visioned Manual on Ministry was presented by the Habakkuk Group for conversation across the United Church of Christ. The group listened deeply to the wider church’s engagement of this draft, and at its December 2017 meeting, the Habakkuk Group worked to distill all of these conversations, placing the breadth of feedback alongside its own discernment in order to make the decisions necessary to move the drafted Manual on Ministry toward the next edition of MOM. While those decisions will be most effectively conveyed to the wider church through the completion of the next edition of the Manual on Ministry, three particular decisions are important to convey in the meantime:
- an option for Lay Ministerial Standing, rooted theologically in the priesthood of all believers;
- a title revision from “Omega Standing” to “Exempt Standing”; and
- explicit processes for accountability to the requirements of ministerial standing.
The work of incorporating these decisions requires time in editing, which is being undertaken this spring. MESA and the Habakkuk Group are also working to finalize resources for Committees on Ministry. The release of the next edition of MOM is expected in Fall 2018, in both print and digital versions.
Please note that one unchanged recommendation from 2017 is the recognition of current commissions and licenses, according to their respective terms of call and authorization. While these authorizations are inherently limited in time (licensure by intervals of renewal and commissioning by duration of call), Committees on Ministry continue to be responsible for the ongoing support and oversight of Commissioned Ministers and Licensed Ministers for the length of their authorization. The 2017 Discussion Guide remains useful for conversations about the forms and uses of ministerial authorization.
A synopsis of the Habakkuk Group’s conclusions, including a detailed guide to advise the wider church about the aspects of the 2017 drafted Manual on Ministry that will be revised as well as those that will remain largely unchanged can be found online. We encourage Committees on Ministry and conferences to feel confident in their continued use of the 2017 drafted Manual on Ministry as an authoritative resource, noting the changes outlined in the guide.
The Ministerial Excellence, Support & Authorization (MESA) Ministry Team remains available to the wider church, especially our Committees on Ministry and conference colleagues, for practical support through this season of transition.
Questions for Reflection
What about this work is exciting for you? What questions remain?
Have you adopted the 2017 draft of the Manual on Ministry? Do you have a plan for adoption of the final draft of the Manual on Ministry when it is released later this year?
Other COM News:
The MESA Team is dedicated to supporting your vital COM work through regular trainings offered online.
On May 16 at 7:00 – 9:00pm ET, COMs and Response Team Members are invited to learn about the role of Response Teams in Fitness Reviews.
On May 23 at 3:00 – 4:30pm ET, dig into Departure Ethics for clergy, rooted in the UCC Ministerial Code and the Marks of Faithful and Effective Authorized Ministers.
June 5 at 2:00 – 3:30pm ET, explore Best Practices in Retirement.
Each training is hosted by a member of the MESA Team, with space on Zoom for up to 50 participants. No registration is required; click on the title of the training you want to attend at the time it is scheduled to start.
Blessings and gratitude,
The Ministerial Excellence, Support and Authorization Team
Local Church Ministries, United Church of Christ