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Committee on Ministry

Updated: Apr 8, 2020

In the last issue of this newsletter, we provided an introduction to the Committee on Ministry (CoM) and information on the appointment of its members and their terms of service. We suggested that there are generally four areas of work for the CoM: 1) Ministerial Advisement, 2) Conflict Engagement, 3) Ministerial Professional Development Support, and 4) Congregational Assessment.

In this month’s issues, we reflect on Ministerial Advisement, and touch on areas 3 and 4. First, a bit about the philosophy about why CoMs exist.

Rarely do ministers have all the knowledge and wisdom necessary for effective ministry in and beyond a congregation. Ministers and congregations, alike, have long realized the benefit of having a team of experienced lay leaders in the congregation who can be in discernment with the minister about their ministry and the on-going ministries of the church. The CoM can be a source of congregational knowledge, history, and wisdom that the minister may not have. It can serve as a confidential “sounding board” for developments in the ministries, providing feedback from a team of trusted lay leaders on ideas before they go to the congregation. The CoM can also provide healthy reflections upon the congregation’s ministries, based on their experience, allowing multiple perspectives.

At UUCBV there are three members of the CoM, plus Rev. Donna. We meet monthly, sometimes with an agenda of specific goals for the meeting, sometimes to reflect on the various ministries of the congregation, and at other times, to respond to ideas that Rev. Donna wishes to present to or implement in the congregation. In some meetings, we might do all of these – and maybe more, like providing a bit of history of our congregation as well as that of the B/CS community, or brainstorm on innovative ideas.

One other important role we have, in the areas of Ministerial Advisement, Ministerial Professional Development Support, and Congregational Assessment, is to participate in the annual assessment process of the minister and congregation, along with the Board and Rev. Donna herself. In this process we not only assess the minister’s performance, but that of the congregation and our leadership as we travel this shared-ministry journey together. Shared ministry happens when we embrace the belief that our good works, our volunteerism, and our acts help serve the mission and vision of our congregation. It is shared by all of us and it is a way to put our faith into action for the benefit of the church and the wider community.

The UUA has identified seven areas in which most ministerial duties fall and provides resources and rubrics for the evaluation of the minister in these areas:

Worship and Rites of Passage, Pastoral Care and Presence, Spiritual Development for Self and Others, Social Justice in the Public Square, Administration, Serving the Larger Unitarian Universalist Faith, and Leading the Faith into the Future

The rubric identifies levels of competencies – for new ministers, for those who have been a minister for a short while, for a bit longer, and for highly-experienced ministers. It allows for objectivity, and not subjectivity, in our assessment. We are encouraged to provide concrete examples, instead of preferences or opinions, of our assessment.

There is no rubric for congregational assessment; it’s just an open area for us to share how we believe the congregation supports, or doesn’t support, the minister and our shared ministry. We identify “recommended continuing education/next steps” for both the minister and the congregation. The CoM’s assessment of both the minister and the congregation is based on our observations and experiences, as well as what we have learned from members of the congregation and church staff. While the contents are confidential to the larger congregation, the Board, Rev. Donna, and the CoM share our various assessments and plan together “our next steps” toward a successful shared ministry going forward.

As members of the UUCBV, our goal is to respect one another’s points of view, and be honest, direct, and respectful in our communications among ourselves. In this spirit, we encourage you to share your thoughts, ideas, questions, concerns, compliments, complaints – whatever is on your mind about our shared ministry – with us during coffee hour each Sunday at our “CommUUnicate” table. We will record your comments and share with Rev. Donna and the Board President for follow up as appropriate.

A healthy congregation is created by healthy communication – with honesty, directness, and respect. So, let’s CommUUnicate!

Gaye Webb, Chair John Ivy Joyce Langenegger

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