Thursday, February 28, 2013

Your Committee on Ministry

Dear Members and Friends,

Like many Unitarian Universalist congregations, Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship is fortunate to have a Committee on Ministry. The Committee on Ministry supports all the ministries and members of our church in living out our mission as a church and our covenant with each other.

What is ‘Ministry’? "When Unitarian Universalists speak of ministry, we are describing what we all do together as members of our faith communities. We have ordained ministers in our tradition, of course, but those who serve their world in the name of the church extend far beyond the clergy. Though we are a diverse population, a common truth for Unitarian Universalist communities remains: regardless of the size or constellation of the congregation, the ministry in our faith communities is mutual... As people of faith, our ministry involves taking care of one another, maintaining an emotional and spiritual connection throughout life's changes. As we engage in mutual ministry, we feed one another. And in so doing, we are able to turn to lend our succor to the world. Our pastoral presence, our religious education, and our social action are all grounded in the ministry we give to and receive from one another." (From the chapter "Our Ministry", in the Unitarian Universalist Pocket Guide) Thus, UU congregations have what may be termed ‘shared’ ministry, where all members share responsibility.

What is the Committee on Ministry? The Committee on Ministry is a continuing body whose purpose is primarily to support all the various ministries of this church. Our role is to help strengthen the quality of ministry for this congregation and our main task is to monitor, on a regular and continuing basis, the effectiveness of the congregation's ministries. “Committees on Ministry are designed to track the heartbeat of ministry within a congregation; how the members...take care of themselves and each other, how the lay ministerial leadership serves a congregation; and how the called minister serves the congregation. It seeks to understand, assess, support, and advocate for robust ministry throughout the context of congregational life.” (Rev. Anne Heller, Churchworks: A Well-Body Book for Congregations (Skinner House, 1999)) The Purpose of the Committee on Ministry (CoM) is to tend to the whole ministry at every point: To be the congregation’s “ombudsman,” “process-observer” and “conscience.” The primary “doing” of the CoM team is simply to “be” in the room, noticing and telling the congregation what it sees and hears as viewed from the “balcony.” The CoM is a BE-ing team, not a Do-ing team, whose power lies in that it exerts moral authority, not legislative power. (Rev. Kenn Hurto, DE Florida District 2009)

The CoM meets regularly, with a prepared agenda for each meeting. We have a covenant of confidentiality, but not secrecy. Within the committee, we share openly our observations and concerns of the congregation’s ministries. Each member is responsible for being sufficiently involved in the life of the congregation so that they can each briefly report on how the congregation is attending to its mission. By watching and listening to what is going on in the church, by paying attention to what needs are and are not being met, how relationships between different groups within the congregation are developing or deteriorating, how the church is relating to its neighboring community, how welcoming is the congregation to visitors and inviting to new friends and members, the CoM can focus its attention on the vitality and health of the congregation and, when appropriate, steer resources to emerging issues. You can help us by sharing your observations and concerns with a member of the committee.

What are the responsibilities of the Committee on Ministry?
-Continually monitor congregational life;
-Help model healthy and deepening relationships with minister(s) and program staff;
-Continually educate itself about ministry;
-Support continuing education of the congregation for its growing understanding and skill in shared ministry;
-Coordinate periodic assessments of the shared ministry of the congregation and its leadership components;
-Periodically advise the board regarding the health of the shared ministry;
-Support the minister's planning for continuing education, sabbaticals, and other professional development;
-Recommend and actively supports such plans to the board and to the congregation.

Among their shared tasks are:
  1. Set Agenda for meetings.
  2. Set re-evaluation and reflection of Covenant, Mission and Goals (every January, with new member)
  3. Communicate with Board President/ Board Liaison (chair, primarily).
  4. Attend Board meetings.
  5. Communicate Mission and Goals to congregation.
  6. Liaison with ministries in the church.
  7. Lead development of CoM Policies and Procedures.
  8. Advocate for healthy communication, relationships and structures in achieving the mission of the congregation.
Who serves our DUUF Committee on Ministry? Members serve staggered three-year terms. For the 2013 calendar year your Committee on Ministry is served by Jake Jacobson, Sunnie Palmer (Chair) and Mary Curtis (who are pictured here). Rev. Pam serves as an ex-officio member. You reach the Committee on Ministry by e-mail at

They are your Committee on Ministry and they are here to serve you. Feel free to be in touch with them or me to understand more or to comment on the ministries of our congregation.

Love and light,

Rev. Pam Wat