The Ministerial Excellence, Support & Authorization team (MESA)

Within the United Church of Christ, the Ministerial Excellence, Support and Authorization team (MESA) supports the critical implementation of denominational polity for authorized ministry, especially equipping the Committees on Ministry that determine authorization of those persons who hold or are pursuing ministerial standing.

In other words (to make metaphorical use of “mesa”), the Ministerial Excellence, Support and Authorization team serves as host at the table that is ministry in the United Church of Christ. Gathered at the table are authorized ministers, calling bodies, Associations, Conferences, and Committees on Ministry, to which the MESA team offers support and resources for faithful and effective ministry. Additionally, MESA’s role as host includes the encouragement of ongoing conversation regarding issues of ministry in the 21st century.

The MESA team works in a collaborative model to meet the needs of those at the table. Duties, responsibilities and contact information of each MESA team member are listed below, understanding that the goals and partnerships noted here are not designed to be exhaustive.

Rev. Elizabeth Dilley, Minister & Team Leader of the Ministerial Excellence, Support & Authorization Ministry Team
1300 East 9th Street, Suite 1100, Cleveland OH 44114
Essential Duties and Responsibilities
– Visions and articulates the changing needs of authorized ministers & leadership development in the United Church of Christ and ecumenically
– Builds ecumenical and denominational partnerships to support and resource authorized ministers, conference staff and committees on ministry
– Provides leadership, oversight, and development of the Ministerial Excellence, Support & Authorization Ministry Team
– Serves as a connectional voice between the Ministerial Excellence, Support & Authorization Ministry Team and settings of the United Church of Christ

Rev. Stephen Boyd, Minister for Chaplains and Ministers in Specialized Settings
1300 East 9th Street, Suite 1100, Cleveland OH 44114
Essential Duties and Responsibilities
– Recognizes and honors the diverse calling bodies within the United Church of Christ
– Supports bi-vocational authorized ministers and those serving in settings outside of the local church including but not limited to chaplains, educators, counselors, community organizers, ecumenical ministers, and denominational ministers
– Supports authorized ministers serving in chaplaincy positions including but not limited to: Hospital Chaplaincy, Military Chaplaincy, College Chaplaincy, and Prison Chaplaincy
– Provides the voice and perspective of the United Church of Christ in commissions and organizations related to specialized ministry
– Serves as the endorser for government and professional chaplains
– Resources Committees on Ministry on authorizing and supporting specialized ministers

Rev. Tara Barber, Minister for Ministerial Support and Accountability
1300 East 9th Street, Suite 1100, Cleveland OH 44114
Essential Duties and Responsibilities
– Assists in embodying the on-going covenant between authorized ministers, associations, conferences and the national setting of the church
– Strengthens a culture of lifelong learning and continuing education among authorized ministers
– Equips Committees on Ministry to work with Local Church Ministers
– Works with partners to name and develop materials for boundary training and continuing education
– Articulates guidelines for covenant and mutual accountability for authorized ministers including programs of oversight and fitness
– Develops and maintains a denomination-wide record of results from UCC fitness review proceedings
– Resources and connects programs of clergy cohort clusters including the Communities of Practice, 2030 Clergy, and the Antoinette Brown Society

Rev. Dr. Renee C. Jackson, Minister for Ministerial Formation
1300 East 9th Street, Suite 1100, Cleveland OH 44114
Essential Duties and Responsibilities
– Identifies emerging trends in the development of ministerial formation in the United Church of Christ and support and to develop long and short-term strategies to address those emerging needs
– Promotes a culture of call and theology of ordained ministry in the United Church of Christ; strengthened by discernment, assessment and covenants of mutual accountability
– Serves as the primary advocate for the use of the Marks of Faithful and Effective Authorized Ministers for discernment and assessment across all settings of the denomination
– Maximizes the impact and visibility of Members in Discernment throughout the UCC by representing their interests in partnership with Conference Staff, Seminaries, Regional Theological Education Programs, and Committees on Ministry
– Facilitates educational and networking events for Members in Discernment including annual MID gatherings and opportunities for engagement at regional and national events such as General Synod
– Serves as a consultant to the Covenanted Ministries, Conferences, liaison to the African American Women in Ministry Network, and other parts of the church

Rev. Melanie Oommen, Minister for Committee on Ministry Development and Leadership
1300 East 9th Street, Suite 1100, Cleveland OH 44114
Essential Duties and Responsibilities
– Identify emerging needs of Committees on Ministry (COMs) in the United Church of Christ and develop long and short-term strategies to address those emerging needs.
– Coordinate, educate, and support Conference Staff working with COMs to maximize the impact and visibility of COMs.
– Resource Conferences and Associations towards effective recruitment of individuals with the gifts and skills for the ministry of COMs, and the continued development of COMs as discerning bodies.
– Work cooperatively with partners across the UCC in resourcing and supporting the use of the United Church of Christ Manual on Ministry.
Cultivate resources related to change and adaptation for Committees on Ministry, including the embrace of new technological best practices consistent with UCC polity. 
– Develop training materials for orienting Committees on Ministry to their work based on the Marks and the Core Competencies of COMs, including in-person training, Zoom trainings, and on-demand resources in Frontline Faith, and develop ongoing plans for implementing such trainings.

Rev. Jeff Nelson, Minister for Ministerial Calls and Transitions
1300 East 9th Street, Suite 1100, Cleveland OH 44114
Essential Duties and Responsibilities
– Engages partners in researching, developing and disseminating resources on ministerial transition in the United Church of Christ
– Supports interim ministers in the United Church of Christ and the UCC interim minister’s network
– Develops resources and support for conference staff engaged in search and call
– Oversees the UCC Profiles Office including the UCC Ministerial Profile’s Portal, Ministry Opportunities Listings, and the development of a new Local Church Profile system
– Resources and supports ministers transitioning between calling bodies or into retirement

Mr. Darrell Ludwig, Profile & Ministry Opportunities Administrator
1300 East 9th Street, Suite 1100, Cleveland OH 44114
Essential Duties and Responsibilities
– Resources authorized ministers and conference staff in the completion of online documents relating to MESA, including the ministerial profile and ministry opportunities listings

Rev. Anissa Glaser-Bacon, Program Assistant
1300 East 9th Street, Suite 1100, Cleveland OH 44114
Essential Duties and Responsibilities
– Serves as Program Assistant to the MESA Team, providing administrative support and assistance and program staff under the supervision of the Team Leader.
– Maintain, update, and curate information about MESA online resources, coordinating with the OPTIC team and the Coordinator for Digital Events, and maintaining consistency in communication.
– Process necessary financial and administrative paperwork for all check requests and invoices.
– Maintain and update the MESA Team calendar with staff travel, staff absences, building-wide meetings, Zoom meetings, and other relevant information.

Shared Commitments of all MESA Team Members
– A commitment to work collaboratively and collegially
– A commitment to demonstrate significant understandings of and appreciation of the faith, polity and practice of ministry in the UCC
– A commitment to demonstrate desire and sensitivity to work in diverse racial, ethnic, cultural and religious settings and attentive to implicit-bias in resources and trainings
– A commitment to responding to the needs of the church including ability to collaboratively conceptualize, author, and produce print and on-line resources.
– A commitment to demonstrate facilitation and workshop leadership in diverse setting of the church
– A commitment to adapt to new technology

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