United Church of Christ

September 2017

Dear Committee on Ministry colleagues,

The new draft of the Manual on Ministry enlarges our understanding and imagination for supporting authorized minister with a process called "Vocational Support." Previously known as "Periodic Support Consultations," Vocational Support provides opportunities for ministers to grow and be healthy in their vocations. Rooted in the Marks of Faithful and Effective Authorized Ministers, Vocational Support has two parts: Ongoing Peer Support and Periodic Vocational Support.
 
Ongoing Peer Support encourages the intentional development of peer communities. Does your Association provide for regular opportunities for authorized ministers to gather together? This may happen through retreats, Communities of Practice, an association ministerium, cohorts related to specialized ministries or areas of common interest, and more. COMs should provide at least one such opportunity each year for authorized ministers to gather for a non-business purpose – whether the COM hosts the gathering itself or organizes the opportunity in collaboration with volunteers. While in-person gatherings are often preferred, COMs can be creative in utilizing technology to facilitate networks, particularly across a large geography.
 
Periodic Vocational Support is an every-few-years opportunity for the Committee on Ministry to support an authorized minister’s ongoing discernment. How often does your COM meet authorized ministers to hear their stories of growth and passion in ministry? Does the entire COM meet with every minister at least once in a 3-5 year period? Do representatives from the COM meet with ministers in their homes or ministry settings? Is there another means of checking in with your ministers consistently and in a sustained way?
 
Many Committees on Ministry find their agendas swamped by crises and have little time for processes of support. If that sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. MESA encourages you to make a plan now for re-imagining how to bolster these relationships in the coming year. The draft of the Manual on Ministry provides an overview of ongoing Vocational Support on pages 88-90 as a guide to spur your creativity.
 
Other COM News
If you are new to your role on a COM, taking on additional responsibility, or looking for a refresher on COM work, come to Cleveland for MESA 101 on October 2nd. This day-long orientation event covers all things MESA-related: ministerial formation, endorsement, search and call, COMs, ecumenical relationships, etc. The event is free; attendees are responsible for their own travel and hotel arrangements. Click HERE to register. This gathering is open to any member of the United Church of Christ.
 
The MESA Team is dedicated to supporting your vital COM work through regular trainings offered online via Zoom. On October 12th at 7:00 – 8:30pm ET, join a conversation about cultivating a sense of ministry on your Committee on Ministry. On October 18th at 2:00 – 3:30pm ET, refresh your understanding of oversight processes for authorized ministry. Each training is hosted by a member of the MESA Team, with space on Zoom for up to 50 participants. No registration is required; simply scroll through the list of online trainings posted here and click on the title of the training you want to attend at the time it is scheduled to start.
 
Blessings and peace,

Elizabeth Dilley
Minister for Ministers in Local Churches
Ministerial Excellence, Support & Authorization (MESA) Team
Local Church Ministries, United Church of Christt
ucc.org/ministers


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