Rationale and a few Characteristics of COM Story of COM of Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent, OH Covenant of Kent COM Kent COM Story Continues Typical Duties Stories Resources Discussion
As congregations grow, there is increased competition by programs and groups for resources and attention. And a multiplicity of leaders are involved. Congregations are often in danger of losing sight of their reason for existence, their mission, in the swirl of activity. There is a need for an independent body that can step back and view the large, overall picture and keep the mission in the forefront of the congregation’s thoughts.
Mission education and focus Effectiveness assessment of congregation and minister(s) and all ministries Conflict management (NOT resolution or solution!) Spiritual well-being of the whole congregation Overview body focused on spiritual leadership not biased by attachment to any particular program or church function.
Smaller congregation may have a 3 member committee, 5 or 6 in a larger congregation. Chosen by Board and Minister- various patterns Terms should be staggered in terms The COM should meet monthly with a regular agenda so that each aspect of the congregation’s ministry is reviewed regularly. Focused on advocacy of the whole ministry of the entire congregation.
No need for a Ministerial Relations Committee because professional ministry is understood to be only one component of its larger ministry. And every component of ministry is viewed as critical to success. Finding the right people is KEY—people with vision, who can see the big picture, who have the confidence of the congregation, who can leave personal biases at the door, who can work in a confidential but not secretive manner.
History Shifted from being a sounding board or cheerleading squad for the minister to becoming responsible for the overall ministry of the church and all the components of church life: congregation, committees, minister, music, the whole thing.
We, the Committee on Ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent, covenant to work toward the goal of promoting the health and well being of this congregation. We will be attentive to the entire ministry of the church and we will cultivate open and appropriate communications with the members of the congregation, the minister, staff and the Board.
We commit to working together as a team and respecting the team process. We commit to meeting monthly or more frequently as the need arises. We consider this a priority of service in our lives. That being said, we also recognize that at times our lives may pull us away from a meeting. Our attendance will reflect this understanding. We will embrace confidentiality as is necessary to maintain healthy relationships.
We understand the vital role members of this committee hold and realize that open and appropriate communication with the rest of the congregation is a large part of this position. We will make decisions as a full team using our adopted consensus model. We commit to listen to each other and to speak our hearts and minds in our meetings. We will take time to listen to all sides and to understand the dissenting voice. We commit to model right relations in all of our interactions.
Had to take care to educate the congregation about the new focus of the COM. Over time repeated coaching and articles and sermons on the topic, folks are doing better at using the appropriate venues to share concerns. But it continues to be a work in progress
Please have one person in your team bring any questions from your team.
The committee consists of 3-4 members. They serve 2 year terms. They are staggered. During my tenure church grew from a pastoral size church to a program size church. Our settled minister asked the committee to read the book, Moving on From Church Folly Lane by Robert Latham. Church Folly lane addresses what the make up of a CoM should look like. Members of the CoM do not serve in any other capacity of the church due to possible conflict of interest. Because so much of what the CoM deals with comes from varied sources, there is value in having a healthy mix on the COM. Members must understand that they will deal with some very difficult and tender topics and that they will need to consider the greater good, while at the same time holding true to the mission/vision and covenant of the church.
COM members need to have thick skin. They need to keep sight of their task. It is very healthy if their covenant includes the promise that they “speak with one voice”. There were times we didn’t all agree, but we presented ourselves with one voice. That gave authority and credibility to the committee.
Monthly meetings attended by the 3-4 members of the committee as well and the minister. When the Kent COM began, the minister would run the meetings. After about 9 months of that, our minister gently explained that really, that is not the healthy way to operate. A chair really should create an agenda, keep minutes, and run the meeting. From that point on, the meetings functioned that way.
Agenda: Old business was obvious. About a week prior to meetings I’d email the committee and ask what needed to be put on the agenda as new business. Concerns ranged from crying babies in the sanctuary, to members taking offense at our signage, to individual squabbles, a need for a disruptive behavior policy and more general—how do we show appreciation to leaders in the church? And assessing the minister and the congregation. Many times a member from our COM was asked to serve on an another committee- long range planning committee, minister’s compensation committee, mission/vision/covenant. We had co-chairs so that no one had to shoulder too much of the work.
UUA website: www.uua.org and search terms “Committee on Ministry” or go to http://www.uua.org/leaders/leaderslibrary/l eaderslibrary/interconnections/44219.shtmlwww.uua.org http://www.uua.org/leaders/leaderslibrary/l eaderslibrary/interconnections/44219.shtml Churchworks Anne Heller Skinner House Moving on From Church Folly Lane By Robert Latham Alban Institute Press