Rev. Holly MillerShank, the Ministerial Excellence, Support and Authorization Ministry Team Leader, recently sent out this message: “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.” The digital version of the 2018 Manual on Ministry is available here for immediate download; it will continue to be available digitally at no charge.
Across the United Church of Christ, Associations and Conferences are in many different places with regard to the 2018 Manual. Some COMs deeply engaged the 2017 draft and began using it immediately; others took time to study particular sections of the document. Still others have been patiently waiting for the 2018 edition of MOM to be finalized before using it as the basis for their COM work. Regardless of where your COM falls on the spectrum of engagement with the draft materials, we recommend the following steps for all Committees to explore this next iteration of MOM:
- Ensure that all current COM members have access to a digital or print version of the 2018 Manual on Ministry.
- Begin with a prayer for openness to wisdom, surprises, and questions.
- Read Section 1, focusing on the Theology of Authorized Ministry.
- If you have particular questions about what all of this means for Licensed and Commissioned Ministers, be sure to read “Transitional Discussion Guide for Committees on Ministry with current Licensed Ministers and Commissioned Ministers,” which can be found as a Section 3 Resource under “resources for Section 1: Theology of Authorized Ministry.”
- Also, take note: Section 2, Article 4 describes Lay Ministerial Standing, which emerged in response to feedback from the wider church.
- Read one of the Section 2 articles that focuses on an area in which your Committee on Ministry does a lot of work. What remains the same? What’s new? How can you begin to adopt some of the Section 3 resources related to this article for immediate usage? What still requires clarification for your Committee?
- Read one of the Section 2 articles that focuses on an area in which your Committee on Ministry needs to grow. What possibilities do you see for the ways your work might need to change?
- Participate in one of the introductory sessions taking place in November via Zoom (see listings below).
- Plan for conversation about these new materials at your next meeting, and the meeting after that. Assume it will take some time to integrate these new practices, so commit the necessary time and resources to do so faithfully.
- Coordinate across Associations on best practices, and confer with your Conference staff about the possibility of hosting or attending a COM orientation or training on the new materials.
Questions for reflection:
What about the new MOM excites your Committee on Ministry? Where does your COM still have apprehensions? How do you plan to share the 2018 UCC Manual on Ministry with authorized ministers, Members in Discernment, and others in your Association or Conference?
Other COM News:
The MESA Team is dedicated to supporting your vital COM work through regular trainings offered online. Please check this site regularly for updates. MESA will host a number of sessions introducing the new Manual on Ministry to the Church in 2019.
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