In the past year shared ministry has become an integral part of the life of this congregation. Both Pastoral and Worship Associates programs were initiated; enthusiastic groups applied for, trained and began serving in their chosen capacities. What is shared ministry? The UUA website has this to say: “Ministry is no longer an act provided only by those who are ordained or called to serve. Ministry happens wherever individuals embrace the belief that their good works, their volunteerism, their acts, can help serve the mission and vision of their congregation. Where formerly people may have thought of themselves as ‘just a volunteer’ or one of a nameless group of people performing a task, now, more and more, members of Unitarian
Universalist congregations understand that ministry is something shared by all who are part of a spiritual community; a way to put faith into action for the benefit of the church and the wider community.
One very tangible benefit of shared ministry for this congregation will become apparent during my month of unpaid leave between February 16th and March 16th, 2015. The purpose of this leave is twofold: to help balance the TUCW budget and to give me some extra down time in what has been a very busy and intense interim ministry. This is not a sabbatical. A sabbatical is paid time off given to a minister by the congregation for professional development and spiritual refreshment. This is unpaid time; I therefore will not be available at all to the congregation for that month. “Yikes,” you might be thinking.
But fear not. Thanks to the shared ministries now in place, the worship and pastoral life of the congregation will go seamlessly on.
Worship: The Worship Associates have fully planned for the four Sunday services. One of them will be led by Worship Associates themselves, one by a member, and two by guest ministers. Sudha Sankar has agreed to be the point of contact for the Worship Associates.
Pastoral Care: The Pastoral Care Associates and Minister of Music Ed Thompson will share pastoral duties in my absence. The PCA’s will continue to provide ongoing visits and support to those who are home-bound and to others with long-term pastoral needs. They will also do hospital visits and home visits and will offer phone support to people who experience non-critical incidents.
To reach the Pastoral Care Associates you can either email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office and leave a message at extension 19.
Rev. Dawn Sangrey, an nearby accredited interim minister, will be on call to advise and assist the PCA’s during my leave.
Ed will respond to all critical incidents and deaths in the congregation. After making an initial assessment of a critical incident, he may involve the PCA’s in follow up care. “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. “ (Julian of Norwich)
The first time I served an historic congregation in Northern New England (and by historic I mean that the ‘new’ building was built in 1816) I was deeply moved by the advice given to the congregation by one of the church elders. “Remember, this is our church. Good coffee. Bad coffee. No coffee. Good minister. Bad minister. No minister. This is our church.”
This is your congregation. Long time settled minister. Short time interim minister. No minister. New minister. I look forward to a month of exploration; a trip to Africa and a stack of novels to read. I encourage you to enter this brief time of ‘no minister’ with open minds and hearts. Perhaps you too will do some exploration – of the untapped potential of your church!
In the Interim,