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Those serving in the ministry of Conferences and Associations are, increasingly, the denomination's "sandwich generation": they witness to, walk with and work through both the dying and the birthing of ministries. Association and Conference Ministers support leadership formation and authorization, congregational search and call, regional ministry programs, and they shape vision for church vitality.
The Ministerial MESA Ministry Team supports regional and judicatory ministers in the United Church of Christ, especially through the biennial event AM21: Authorizing Ministry in the 21st Century (held most recently in Savannah, Georgia, in December 2014). MESA is pleased to equip Judicatory Ministers and Conference Staff with the following tools for the ongoing work of authorization, oversight, and search-and-call. As these tools are updated for a church that is ever-changing in the 21st century, these files will be revised accordingly. Please check back frequently to use the latest versions of these files; dates are noted within the documents for reference.
Quick links to resources for Association and Conference Ministers:
- Ministerial Code of Ethics (2017)
- Sample Call Agreement
- Outline of a Ministerial File
- Vocabulary for Pastoral Positions
- Guidelines for Ecclesiastical Endorsement
- Procedures for Transfer of Ministerial Standing
- Sample Three-Way and Four-Way Covenants
- Sample Application for Privilege of Call/Dual Standing
- Access to the Ministerial Profiles Portal
- Information Review Form, for annual reporting between authorized ministers and Committees on Ministry
- Fitness Review Reporting Form
- Fitness Review Process Chart – Sample
- Media Guide for Fitness Reviews
- Roles of the Response Team in a Fitness Review
- Appeals and Communications in a Fitness Review
- The Marks of Faithful and Effective Authorized Ministers, including the Marks Rubric (especially for Committees on Ministry) and the Journaling the Journey workbook (especially for Members in Discernment and authorized ministers)
- Manual on Ministry
- Manual on Church
- Discernment Travelogue
- Discernment Travelogue – Spanish
- Discernment Travelogue – Samoan
- Dictionary of Pastoral Positions
- Dictionary of Pastoral Positions – Spanish
- Dictionary of Pastoral Positions – Samoan
- 2005 Proclamation on Ministry Issues
- The Marks of Faithful and Effective Boundary Awareness Trainers
- Search and Call Conversations (a conversation resource from the MESA Ministry Team)
- Conference User Guide to the Ministerial Profiles Portal
- Certificate Order Form
- MESA and seminaries in partnership
- Committee on Ministry Research Report
- For Circulation: Articles about Ministry
- For Authorized Ministers: Departure Ethics and Social Media Boundaries
- Interim Agreement between the United Church of Christ and The United Church of Canada
All persons with ministerial standing in the United Church of Christ are expected to abide by the UCC Ministerial Code.
I acknowledge as the Church’s sole Head, Jesus Christ, Son of God and Savior, and as kindred in Christ all who share in this confession. I will look to the Word of God in the Scriptures, and to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, to prosper its creative and redemptive work in the world.
Affirming that I have been called by God to be a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ and granted ministerial standing by the United Church of Christ, I agree to preach and teach the gospel, to administer the sacraments and rites of the Church with integrity, and to exercise pastoral care and leadership in covenant with others.
Relying on the grace of God, I…
COVENANT WITH GOD TO:
- Lead a life worthy of the calling to which I have been called.
- Demonstrate a sincere yearning for connection with the triune God, expressed in prayer, worship, Bible study, retreat, and other spiritual practices.
- Affirm the importance of discernment in relationship to my call and, using the Marks of Faithful and Effective Authorized Ministers, will continue to discern the nature of my call in community.
- Grow in faith, knowledge, and the practice of ministry through intentional continuing education, study, and devotional life.
- Cultivate a culture of call by nurturing the gifts of others in the Church and joining their gifts with mine in seasons of change and continuity for the sake of the mission of Jesus Christ and the health of the Church.
- Honor the diversity of God’s creation and work for the unity of the body of Christ (John 17:21).
- Recognize the communal nature of God, ensuring that ministry does not happen in isolation.
COVENANT WITH SELF AND FAMILY TO:
- Attend to my physical well-being by adopting a healthy life style including diet, exercise, and rest, setting aside time for Sabbath and vacation.
- Steward my time, talents, and personal financial resources responsibly.
- Accept responsibility for all debts that I incur.
- Refrain from abusive behavior including abusive behavior toward others, the abuse of alcohol, drugs, or any other substance; to seek appropriate care for physical and mental health concerns; and to avoid addictive behaviors.
- Maintain high moral standards in my sexual behavior.
- Honor my family commitments, including my family’s need for privacy and time together.
- Develop and maintain meaningful personal relationships outside of my ministry setting.
COVENANT WITH THE UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST TO:
- Actively participate in the covenantal life and work of all settings of the United Church of Christ.
- Adhere to all requirements for maintaining ministerial standing as set forth by my Association, and abide by the terms of my call agreements and covenants with energy and vitality.
- Seek the counsel of others, including Conference staff and/or the Association Committee on the Ministry, should divisive tensions threaten my relationship with those with whom I minister.
- Serve as an ambassador for the United Church of Christ, and participate in activities that strengthen its mission, vision and purpose.
- Advocate for fair standards of compensation for all ordained and lay employees of the Church, and honor the search and call process of the United Church of Christ.
- Seek to know, understand and respect the diversity of opinions and people within the United Church of Christ, affirming that all settings of the UCC speak to the church and not for it.
- Encourage and participate in the evaluation of my ministry, understanding and demonstrating that ministry is of and for the Church as it seeks to advance God’s mission in the world.
COVENANT WITH MY MINISTRY SETTING TO:
- Preach and teach the gospel without fear or favor, regarding all persons with equal respect and concern, and undertaking to minister impartially.
- Honor all confidences shared with me, telling only those who need to know, what they need to know, when they need to know it.
- Steward church funds and property faithfully, while overseeing the administrative tasks of ministry with integrity.
- Speak the truth, not using my position, power, or authority to exploit any person nor using my position for unwarranted personal financial gain.
- Assess with care the implications of accepting gifts from congregation members.
- Not perform pastoral services within a congregation or for a member of a congregation, without the invitation of the current pastor of that congregation.
- Neither interfere with nor intrude upon the ministry of my successor, upon my departure from a ministry setting; and to deal honorably with the record of my predecessor and successor.
COVENANT WITH ALL ORDAINED MINISTERS TO:
- Work cooperatively and collegially, with intercultural awareness.
- Stand in mutual relationships with colleagues in ministry, offering and receiving counsel and support with intentionality.
- Use technology and social media responsibly.
- Act to prevent and to report known or suspected cases of physical or sexual abuse or neglect.
- Attribute the sources of words and ideas that are not my own.
- Accurately represent my professional qualifications, education, experience and affiliations, acknowledging the limitations of my office, abilities, skills and competencies, and making referrals when necessary and/or appropriate.
- Maintain appropriate boundaries and practice self-differentiation in both my personal and professional life, including within the Local Church where I hold membership.
 Preamble to the United Church of Christ Constitution
If you are a minister of another tradition or denomination considering becoming a member and minister of the United Church of Christ, you should begin by learning more about the United Church of Christ, establishing a relationship with a UCC congregation, and requesting an introductory conversation with the Conference Minister in your geographic region. As you continue to explore the covenants of membership and ministry in the UCC, you will partner with a local Association's Committee on Ministry to consider authorization.
If you are a minister of another tradition considering service in a United Church of Christ congregation while maintaining your current denominational affiliation, you are invited to explore this option first through the judicatory of your home denomination. Contact then can be made with the United Church of Christ judicatory. Certain denominational partners have explicit agreements which may apply, detailed here:
Formula of Agreement (FOA) and Ordained Ministerial Partner Standing (OMPS) for the PC(USA), ELCA and RCA denominations and for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination, respectively.
Dual Standing and Privilege of Call for ordained ministers from other denominations and traditions.
The United Church of Christ’s Manual on Ministry describes processes of affiliating and obtaining standing for ministers of other denominations. Here is a brief description of those processes. For more, see the Manual on Ministry under “Resources”.
Dual Standing and Privilege of Call
This document describes United Church of Christ ministerial standing for those ordained in denominations other than the UCC. For more detail, see the Manual on Ministry in the Resources section.
Considering a New Church Covenant in the United Church of Christ: A Process for Exploring, Developing, and Affirming New Relationships [PDF]
This booklet describes a process of mutual exploration which will help a non-affiliated church explore the United Church of Christ along with a UCC Association. The goal of the exploration process is to decide whether to enter into a formal covenanted relationship.
Manual on Ministry: Perspectives and Procedures for Ecclesiastical Authorization of Ministry [PDF]
The Manual on Ministry serves as a guide for associations and conferences serving as associations for the authorization of ministry on behalf of the United Church of Christ. All sections of the manual are provided here in pdf format. Also available from UCC Resources.
Manual on Church: Perspectives and Procedures for Association and Local Church Covenantal Partners
The first section of this resource explores the covenantal relationships between local congregations and associations/conferences acting as associations. It is to be used by and with Committees on the Ministry, association and conference staff and local church members to help foster dialogue and increased understanding of what it means to "walk together in all God's ways" as expressions of the church.
Interim Ministry Guidelines [PDF]
This document, Ministry During the Interim Time, describes some common understandings and procedures for this form of ministry, as they have been developing in the United Church of Christ.
"The gifts Christ gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ." - Ephesians 4:11-12
Ministry Issues: Forming and Preparing Pastoral Leaders for God's Church.
The Ministry Issues Pronouncement approved by General Synod 25 in 2005 seeks to address the needs of the UCC for well prepared and faithful ministerial leadership for God's mission in the world both now and in the future. In order to have such well prepared leaders who are able to engage with a geographically and economically diverse, multicultural, multiracial church, it is necessary:
· to expand our definition of learnedness and leadership
· to provide multiple means for persons to be formed and prepared for authorized ministry in the UCC
In order to do this, we must pay attention to:
· our theologies of ministry
· our understanding and practice of licensed ministry
· how we engage in deep and authentic discernment of both call and gifts for ministry
· how we help form leaders with an abiding identity and affinity with the UCC
Ministry Issues Draft 3.1, from the Ministry Issues Implementation Committee in 2009, offers an in-depth exploration of the work and conversations since General Synod 25, including the shift to "Member in Discernment" language and the "Marks of Faithful and Effective Authorized Ministers."
- Las Senales de Los Cristianos Fieles y Ministerios Authorizados
The Marks of Faithful and Effective Authorized Ministers
The following materials help Committees on Ministry explore Draft 3.1; they are designed as workshops that take about two hours, or as pieces to be read by committee members in advance of their work with Members in Discernment.
- Assessing Knowledge and Skills
- Local Churches
- Ministry of COMs
- Personal and Professional Formation
- Regional Programs
- Seminary Programs
Using the Marks
The November 2010 Background Document offers a closer reflection upon the covenants of authorized ministry, in conversation with the Marks. This background document may be helpful in discussing constitutional changes and new understandings fo proposed language. Additionally useful background material includes the 1996 lecture by Clyde J. Steckel; Steckel asserts that Committees on Ministry are the innovators of polity and ecclesiology in the UCC as authorized ministry and denominational ways-of-being shift in ways not imagined by our founders.
The Manual on Church: Perspectives and Procedures for Association and Local Church Covenantal Partners explores the covenantal relationships between local congregations and Associations/Conferences acting as Associations. MOC is to be used by and with Committees on the Ministry, Association and Conference staff, and local church members to foster dialogue and increased understanding of what it means to walk together in all God's ways as expressions of the church.
The Church Shaped by Covenant
Autonomy and Oversight in Covenantal Relationships
Expectations of Associations in Covenant with Local Churches
Expectations of Local Churches in Covenant with Associations
Entering into Covenant
A Chart Summarizing the Procedure for Entering into Covenant
Dissolution of Covenantal Partnership
Characteristics of Faithful Covenantal Relationships
Glossary of Terms