This month, MESA is finalizing preparations for General Synod 32 in Milwaukee, WI. Later this week, people from all over the United Church of Christ (and some ecumenical guests!) will gather in the Wisconsin Center to build community, to worship together in the presence of God, to pray and make decisions that speak to the United Church of Christ (but not for it), and to celebrate all that God is doing in our midst.
The changing landscapes of church and denominational life in the 21st century impact many aspects of congregations, including ways that congregations are formed, reformed, and live in covenant with one another.
Easter Greetings! This newsletter comes to you a week late to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus (and in recognition that during Holy Week, many such emails go unopened).
Many Committees on Ministry struggle with cultivating effective Ecclesiastical Councils, whether because they have a hard time getting a quorum, the questions that get asked are not appropriate for the forum (“How would you help our youth group grow?”), or the candidates themselves are not adequately prepared.
"This individual has a call to spiritual direction and wants to go into private practice – can we ordain them to that call?” “Is a part-time call eligible for ordination?” “Can we ordain this candidate to a volunteer position?” “This person wants to start a new UCC church; is this something to which we can ordain them?”
How is Lay Ministerial Standing different than licensure? Can we continue to license or commission ministers since those forms of standing are still in the bylaws?
“We have more than ten ministers who have not completed their annual Information Reviews in more than two years, and we have another six who refuse to participate in required boundary trainings or continuing education requirements. We’ve tried contacting them by phone and email; is there anything else we can do?”
With praise be to God for the thousands of conversations, emails, prayers, and edits which took place across the church: the 2018 UCC Manual on Ministry is ready for online pre-orders. Shipping will take place in November. God’s richest blessings on this project and heartfelt thanks for the collective contributions to this effort on behalf of the Church.
It happens nearly every month: someone contacts the national setting, either with a question about something related to ministerial authorization or sharing their frustration or displeasure at a decision of a Committee on Ministry or a Conference/Association, and asking the national setting to “do something.”20
A persistent concern for ministers serving in settings beyond the local church is the deep disconnection and isolation many feel from their Associations and Conferences.