When there’s violence in our streets and systems of injustice threatening the lives of God’s people, we do what we can to bring transformation and healing. When a pandemic threatens the health and livelihoods of God’s people, we do what we can to take precautions and take care of the most vulnerable. When our congregations and Committees on Ministry aren’t able to be in the same room together, we have adapted. We have been stretched by these days, and we are finding new ways to serve, support, and provide accountability for those in ministry.
Sometimes, we respond with big changes. We worship and meet online, we shelter, we challenge our institutions to do better. Other times, we make small shifts and adjustments until more becomes clear. All this to say that MESA is with you in the work of resourcing Committees on Ministry, and those whom you serve. We are with you in the call to justice and health for our communities. And we are offering webinars, resources, and tools to support you in this good work.
MESA has created a number of resources for the Church on behalf of the national setting during this pandemic which are specific to Committees on Ministry, transitions, and search and call. Please share these widely. These links are also available at the UCC’s Coronavirus Resource Page.
- MESA Revised Guidelines for Committees on Ministry in a Pandemic Season – offers general resources, special notes for Fitness Reviews, Members in Discernment, and Ministers in Specialized Settings.
- Pastoral Ministry Beginnings and Endings in a Pandemic Season – offers some notes for ministers and congregations beginning and ending ministry during this season.
- Conducting a Pastoral Search in a Pandemic Season – offers tools and practical tips for search committees seeking pastoral leadership during this time.
- As Churches Consider Re-Opening Their Buildings For Worship – offers theological and practical reflections for congregational leadership as they discern when it might be safe to open buildings.
- Ordination in a Pandemic Season - offers resources for Conference Staff, Committees on Ministry, and Associations as they consider ordination in this pandemic season.
Another resource is also available, specifically focused on reporting accountability processes to the national setting. This new document is for tracking instances of Non-Compliance with Standing Requirements. Upon completion of this form, save and send as an attachment to Rev. Tara Barber and Rev. Elizabeth Dilley. MESA’s new Program Assistant, the Rev. Anissa Glaser-Bacon, has brought her administrative expertise in the creation of this resource.
MESA also looks forward to hearing from COM members about what is needed in each new season. To that end, we invite all Committees on Ministry to complete this survey in order to provide specific feedback that will help shape MESA’s work and priorities with Committees on Ministry. Please forward this edition of COMma to all members of your Committee on Ministry and encourage them to respond before July 15, 2020.
Questions for Reflection:
- How can practical resources help COMs reflect on the larger questions of transformation that is necessary for this moment? How can reliance on such resources prevent such reflection?
- What actions is your Committee on Ministry taking to prepare itself for the large changes that are coming as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the enduring “1619 Pandemic” known as racism? What resources do you need to ground you in this work?
Other MESA News:
Committee on Ministry members are invited to sign up for this monthly newsletter here: https://www.ucc.org/ministers_committees-on-ministry.
MESA Zoom trainings return in June
Given the continued global pandemic related to COVID-19, the MESA team has returned to offering live Zoom trainings for Committees on Ministry and others. All trainings require advance registration; a confirmation email will then be sent to registrants with additional information. Here are the upcoming offerings, which are also available here:
June 24, 12:30pm ET
Clergy Care Webinar with Rev. Tara Barber
Join us for a conversation on ways to support care and mental health practices for our clergy. In these days, it is difficult to find a rhythm of work and rest, incorporating Sabbath and ways of finding renewal. In addition to the regular rhythms being disrupted, this time of increased pressure and stress makes it difficult to attend to our mental health needs. Let’s spend an hour naming the challenges and working toward increased care so that our beings can be sustained for all that these days require. This meeting will also be resourced by partners within the UCC.
July 8, 3:30pm ET
Search and Call During a Pandemic with Rev. Jeff Nelson
Search and Call During a Pandemic –Rev. Jeff Nelson, Minister for Ministerial Calls and Transitions, will share best practices on how to navigate the challenges to the search and call process that the COVID pandemic presents, including offering highlights from a new MESA resource on this topic. This webinar will be for ministry candidates, search committee members, and Conference search and call staff. It will be offered on Wednesday, July 22nd at 3:30 ET.
July 22 at 7:00pm ET
– or –
July 29 at 4:30pm ET
Book Study on Saying No to Say Yes with Rev. Tara Barber and Rev. Stephen Boyd
Recently MESA offered two Zoom sessions on Pastoral Relations Committees. The response from Committees on Ministry and Pastoral Relations Committees (PRC) was significant, which indicated that there is a need for conversation and information about this important committee in the life of our congregations. One takeaway from those presentations was that there was a need for ministers to participate, share their experiences and have input into what a healthy PRC would like.
We would like to start this conversation with a denominational-wide conversation around the book, Saying No to Say Yes (David C. Olson and Nancy G. Devor, authors, available online and from local sellers). After reading the book, we are inviting ministers (limited to 25 at each session) to join us for a discussion. Following those conversations, MESA plans a latter opportunity to reconvene with interested parties to discuss boundaries, parameters and expectations for healthy Pastoral Relations Committees in their ministerial settings.