Commentary: The power and importance of a shared voice
Rev. Holly Millershank
Every other year the Ministerial Excellence, Support and Authorization (MESA) Ministry Team gathers conference staff from across the United Church of Christ to engage in prayer, discernment and dialogue on ministerial authorization, oversight, and search and call. The conversations are designed to lift up best practices, recognize significant differences and move us as a group towards consensus.
During the course of this year’s Authorizing Ministry for the 21st Century (AM21) gathering in Savannah, as we focused on creating a common vocabulary for local church ministry positions, and recommended guidelines for transfer of standing, it became apparent that not only were we engaged with ministry matters (noun) but also that ministry matters (verb). Our dialogues grew and expanded from our stated agenda, asking and examining not only how do we go about authorizing ministry as the church, but also for what need in church and society are such authorizations extended.
We left better prepared to collectively administer the policies and procedures of the church, and increasingly articulate about why ministerial leadership matters. Deep dialogues and heartfelt reflections lifted up the news of race and racism in our country. Prayers were prayed, songs sung, signs displayed, and commitments made. An open letter to the church was crafted to address the climate of injustice in our country as churches prepare to light the advent candle of joy.
The work of ministerial authorization, like the conversation on race, is not finished. Conferences, national church officers and others present recognize the power and importance of a shared voice, calling out in the wilderness to prepare the way of our Lord and to ensure that authorized ministry does and will continue to matter in the United Church of Christ.
The Rev. Holly MillerShank leads the UCC Local Church Ministries Ministerial Excellence, Support and Authorization Team
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