I have just finished 2 days in a workshop setting for the Northern California-Nevada Conference Committee on Ministry. About 45 people, representing 3 different sections of the Committee, gathered to learn about each other’s work, to remind ourselves of the denominational policies that lead us in this work, and to think about the documents that guide ministers in their work.
The work of authorizing and supporting our clergy is guided by some documents, two of which are The Ordained Minister’s Code and the Marks for Effective Ministry. The Minister’s Code reminds us that we are in covenant not merely with our congregation but also with the wider church, and that we will work for just wages, not interfere with the ministry in places where we have previously served, complete regular educational requirements, and take care of ourselves and our families; we are held to account for the entire code. (To read the whole document, click here.) The Marks for Effective Ministry are a list of 48 gifts that lead to excellence in ministry; no one is expected to hold all 48 gifts, and yet we expect ministers to be proficient in some from each of the 8 categories (to read it, click here). There is some overlap between the two documents (like membership in a local congregation, and taking care of one’s self). Together these documents guide us in our work of authorizing new ministers, supporting already authorized ministers, and calling to account our ministers in the UCC.
Section A, which I co-chair, works with ministers seeking authorization in our conference; Section B works with ministers who already hold standing in our conference, and Section E works with ministerial ethics violations and fitness reviews. (Sections C & D work with churches, and they were not present at this retreat.) Each of these sections is filled with dedicated, wise, and passionate folk who dearly love our denomination; we know our work is not just for this Conference, but on behalf of the entire United Church of Christ. We remind ourselves that our work with authorization and support of clergy is for the health of each congregation and setting of the United Church of Christ, and it can have lasting ramifications for decades.
While it may not be important to know everything about the Committee on Ministry, or the different sections, or even the Ministers Code and Marks for Effective Ministry, it is important for each UCC member to understand that our clergy are responsible to wider forms of the church, and that we take seriously the authorizing and support of our clergy. See you soon.
Peace, Pastor Tony