Transformed and Renewed: 2024 Member in Discernment Gathering

Hosted by Ministerial Excellence, Support & Authorization (MESA)

Theme: Humbly Embracing God’s Love, Mercy, and Kindness

8He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8 (NSRV)


Thursday, August 1

  • 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. – Travel & Hotel Check-in
  • 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. – Welcome, Overview of Agenda, Greetings from the GMP, Meet the MESA Team
  • 7:00 p.m. onwardDinner on your own

Friday, August 2

Meals will be served in Conference Room A at 1300 E. Ninth Street, 1st floor. Unless otherwise specified, all activities will happen in Conference Room A. Worship leaders are sought for music and liturgy. Please volunteer in the afternoon if you would like to assist with leading Friday evening worship.


  • 8:00 – 9:00 a.m. – Pick up registration materials
    • Location: Conference Room A

Welcome to Sacred Space

  • 9:00 – 9:45 a.m. – Greetings – Dr. Jackson
    • Location: Conference Room A
  • 9:15 – 9:45 a.m. – Devotion – Staci Cooper

Community and Relationship Building

  • 9:45 – 10:15 a.m. – A Common Journey: Phases and Queries Along the Way
    • Location:
      • Discovery Phase (1 year or less) and Progressing Phase (2 years or more) meet in Conference Room A
      • Transformative Phase (nearing completion) meet in the Justice Conference Room
    • MESA staff will serve as facilitators. During Phase Gatherings, volunteer scribes are requested to capture three elements of wisdom to share in our Closing Worship and in the broader MID Network.
  • 10:30 10:45 a.m.Sharing/Reflections; Brown Grant – Dr. Jackson
    • Location: Mission Central
  • 10:45 – 11:00 a.m.BREAK

Seeing the Big Picture

  • 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – Greetings from the UCC Officers
    • Location: Mission Central
      • Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson, General Minister and President
      • TBD, Associate General Minister, Love of Church Ministries
    • Rev. Shari Prestemon, Acting Associate General Minister for Love of Neighbor and the Co-Executive for Global Ministries
  • 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.Lunch

Taking the Long View

  • 1:00 – 2:15 p.m. – The Pension Boards: Your Covenant Partner for Financial Security and Personal Wellness in Ministry
    • Discovery Phase Group: An Introduction to the Mission and Ministries of the Pension Boards – Travis Marks and Caroline Corrigan O’Hare, Health Plan Operations
      • Location: Peace Conference Room
    • Progressing and Transformative Groups: An Overview of Pension Boards Benefits and Services – Baheru Mengistu, Pension Counselor, Member Services Operations
      • Location: Amistad Conference Room
  • 2:15 – 2:30 a.m. – Break

MESA Presentations

What Every Minister Needs to Know

  • 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. – MESA Panel Discussion
    • Working with the COM – Rev. Melanie Oommen
    • The Manual on Ministry and the Marks – Rev. Elizabeth Dilley
    • UCC Minister’s Code, Support and Accountability – Rev. Tara Barber
      • Location: Conference Room A
  • 3:30 – 4:15 p.m. – Tour of UCC Offices (sign-up required), wellness break, or visit area venues
  • 4:15 – 5:15 p.m. – MESA Panel Discussion Continued
    • 4-way Covenants, Ordainable Calls, and Specialized Settings – Rev. Anissa Glaser-Bacon and Rev. Stephn Boyd (via video)
    • Overview of Search and Call Processes – Rev. Jeff Nelson
      • Location: Conference Room A
  • 5:15 – 5:30 p.m.BREAK
  • 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.Legal Considerations – Ms. Heather Kimmel
    • Location: Conference Room A
  • 6:30 – 7:15 p.m. – Dinner
  • 7:15 – 7:45 p.m.Phase Group breakouts
    • Location:
      • Discovery (1 year or less) and Progressing (2 years or more) meet in Conference Room A
      • Transformative Phase (nearing completion) meet in the Justice Conference Room
    • During Phase Gatherings, volunteer scribes are requested to capture three elements of wisdom to share in our Closing Worship and in the broader MID Network.
  • 8:00 – 8:15 p.m. – Worship, Blessing, & Dismissal – Dr. Jackson

Saturday, August 3


  • 9:00 – 9:30 a.m. – Check-in/Devotion (Music selection: “Gonna Be a Lovely Day”)
    • Location: Conference Room A
  • 9:30 – 10:30 a.m.A Common Journey: Discovering Companions Along the Way
    • Location:
      • Discovery Phase and Progressing Phase: Conference Room A
    • Transformative Phase: Justice Conference Room

Concurrent Workshops – Part 1

  • 10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
    • Faith in the Public Square: Advocating with the UCC Office in Washington D.C. – Rev. Michael Neuroth
      • Location: Love Conference Room
    • Relational Support for Your Ministry – Rev. Tara Barber
      • Location: Justice Conference Room
    • Transforming Lives through Service: The Ministries of CHHSM and its Member Agencies – Rev. Dr. Elyse Berry
      • Location: Peace Conference Room
  • 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. – Lunch

Concurrent Workshops – Part 2

  • 1:00 – 2:15 p.m.
    • From MID to Professional Chaplain – Rev. Melody Ruffin Ward
      • Location: Justice Conference Room
    • I SEE YOU! Healing Bodies of Culture – Rev. Dr. Velda Love
      • Location: TBD
    • Negotiating Your First Call – Rev. Jeff Nelson
      • Location: Mission Central
  • 1:00 – 2:15 p.m.BREAK

Concurrent Workshops – Part 3

  • 2:30 – 3:45 p.m.
    • Marks for Vital Church – Rev. Melanie Oommen
      • Location: Mission Central Conference Room
    • Reimagining Ministry with Children and Youth – Rev. Trayce Potter
      • Location: TBD
    • Planning For Successful Bi-Vocational Ministry – Rev. Anissa Glaser-Bacon
      • Location: Amistad Conference Room
  • 3:45 – 4:15 p.m. – Break
  • 4:15 – 5:15 p.m. – Reflections from Phase Groups
    • Location: Conference Room A
  • 5:15 – 6:30 p.m. – Dinner followed by departure prayer – Rev. Anissa Glaser-Bacon

Blessings for a restful evening!

Sunday, August 4


  • 9:00 – 9:30 a.m.Devotion (Music selection: “I Am Human”)
  • 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. Closing Reflections – Dr. Jackson
    • “I feel further grounded in my Call because…”
    • “What I take with me today is…”
    • “I have hope for the Church because…”
    • Continuing Connections Opportunities
  • 10:30 – 10:45 a.m. – Prepare for Worship (Music selection: “Let’s Do the Work”)

Worship with Communion

  • 10:45 – 11:45 a.m. Departing Reflection
    • Music Selection: “I Am Human”
    • Meditation/Sermon: Staci Cooper
    • Music Selection: “God Will Meet You There”
    • Communion: Dr. Jackson, Staci Cooper
    • Benediction – Dr. Jackson
    • Closing Music Selection “This Little Light/This Joy I Have”
  • “I have no doubts that the one who set your feet on this good path will keep walking it with you until the day the Creator Sets Free (Jesus) the Chosen One appears.” – Philippians 1:6 FNV
  • Credits: 
    • First Nations Version: an indigenous translation of the New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2021), 358.  
    • Music files from GS33 (2021): Let’s do the Work by Kevon Carter; Light of God by Patrick Henderson. 
    • “Gonna Be a Lovely Day,” Words and Music: Kirk Franklin, The Nu Nation Project, ©1998 ASCAP; All rights reserved. Streamed under WORSHIPcast License 7631.  
    • “This Little Light/This Joy I Have,” public domain; arrangement copyright ©1993 The Pilgrim Press. 
    • “A Brief Communion Service,” by Jeanyne Slettom;

Be in the Know

Recommended Reading

Mental Health Basics for Spiritual and Religious Leaders by Awa Jangha, PhD

From the author: A free eBook that has helpful information on various concepts of mental health (such as crisis and trauma, substance use dependence, grief, when to refer to a counselor, self-care, etc.). It also includes reflection questions and mental health resources. While written for leaders with spiritual communities (those currently serving or those in training/discernment), it can be also be helpful to persons generally interested in mental health. Please feel free to share it with others.

Across Race Leadership Conversations by Malcolm Himschoot and Renée C. Jackson

Responding to the ask for a research-based resource to guide conversations between pastors of color and white-founded congregations, Across Race: Leadership Conversations covers ten topics identified by pastors in a nationwide cross-case study. A white author and a Black colleague ground and explore Christian essentials and opportunities in a process designed for lay and clergy partnership over the course of a year.

Authors: Malcolm Himschoot and Renée C. Jackson. This research and publication was made possible by relationships across the United Church of Christ, the Methodist Theological School of Ohio, and the Center for Sustainable Justice. Center for Sustainable Justice | Lyndale United Church of Christ (