Update from the Team on Ministry:  This is the letter we recently sent to the Board.

UUCS Board members,                                                                                                            May 5, 2020
The Unitarian Universalist 5 th Principle upholds “The Right of Conscience and the Use of the Democratic Process Within Our Congregations and in Society at Large.”
We are very concerned that our commitment to genuine democratic processes will not be possible during the planned June 14, 2020 UUCS Annual meeting if it is held online via Zoom. While we greatly appreciate and thank those who have worked hard on this effort to organize a virtual meeting, our concerns reach beyond the features of Zoom.
According to the Policy Governance Document 3.6b.  “Board committees will assist the Board chiefly by preparing policy alternatives and implications for Board deliberations.”
Our recommendation to the Board is that our annual meeting be postponed until such a time that we are able to hold an in-person meeting demonstrating our commitment to democracy and inclusivity in our congregational proceedings.
In light of COVID-19, many UU Churches are making exceptions to their by-laws and postponing elections and budgeting decisions. Communications with UUA/Pacific Western District and the state law principle of ‘force majeure’ ensure our right to proceed with a postponed meeting . If there is reluctancy amongst current board members to temporarily remain in position, we propose the idea of a vote by email and paper ballots for new BOT members, the Nominating Team, and the Endowment Team.
As you know, ours is a generous congregation and last year we wisely adopted a 2-year budget. If there becomes a budget crisis in these times of economic uncertainty, we believe our congregants who are able will rise to the occasion to help us all maintain our commitments and address our priorities.
With a clear awareness of the multiple perspectives within our congregation and a strong commitment to democracy and inclusivity, we are strongly urging you to send a message to the entire congregation informing them of your decision to postpone the annual meeting. We are certain this decision will be supported and viewed by the majority as the right thing to do.
Sincerely,
Team on Ministry Members
Nancy Avery
Lynn Jinishian
Tom Mosher

Sue Stiritz

Acting Team on Ministry

Why Acting?

To give immediate support to Todd, our congregation and our Board.

To “try it out” for 6 months, then reflect on whether any changes are needed.

Those serving would then be eligible for a full regular term.

 

Purpose

1.  Work on our shared ministry

Be available to the minister, the Board and the congregation to hear ideas, suggestions or concerns about our shared ministry.  Work to clarify our history and our governing documents when confusion arises about them.  Reflect on our shared ministry – where it is working well and where it could be improved.

Relationship with the Minister – Usual practice is for the Team on Ministry to meet with the minister once a month.

Relationship with the Congregation – The Team on Ministry makes itself available to the congregation as often as it deems appropriate.   Perhaps during this 6-month period, being available once a month after or between services might give the Team a better idea of how often they think this is needed.

Relationship with the Board – The Team on Ministry meets with the Board 3 times a year to discuss ministry, per our Policy Governance Document.

 

2.  Ministerial Advisement

Effective ministry is rarely done in isolation, and as wonderful as Unitarian Universalist ministers (and other program staff) are, they rarely if ever have all of the knowledge and wisdom necessary for effective ministry in and beyond a congregation. Many ministers and congregations have long realized the benefit of having a team of experienced lay-leaders in the congregation who can be in discernment with the minister (or other program staff members) about their ministry.

Done well, the Ministerial Advisement role of a Team on Ministry can be a saving grace for a minister and the congregation alike. The Team on Ministry can be a source of congregational knowledge, history, and wisdom that a minister may not have. They can serve as a confidential “sounding board” for developments in the ministry, allowing the minister to receive feedback from a team of trusted lay-leaders on ideas, before they go to the congregation. This team can also provide healthy reflections upon the ministry, based on their own personal experience of the ministry, that can allow the minister to see more than their own perspective.

The question is not whether a minister has a need of a ministerial advisement team, but how formally the congregation wishes to meet this need. Most ministers find a few congregational lay-leaders whom they go to for advice and reflection. When it is done less formally however, the congregation has no voice in who these lay-leaders are, and their engagement with the minister is not directly accountable to the congregation itself. Having a Team on Ministry fulfill this role takes something that will happen informally and makes it a part of the congregation’s formal structure.

 

3.  Conflict Engagement

In Unitarian Universalism, we invite people to care deeply about their congregation, and then recognize the “right of conscience and the use of the democratic process.” Conflict and disagreement is an inherent part of Unitarian Universalism, and therefore a core spiritual practice of our faith is learning to do conflict and disagreement well. And yet, doing conflict and disagreement well takes intentionality, growth, and differentiation. Many congregations have chosen to assign to their Team on Ministry the role of helping the congregation to live the spiritual practice of learning to engage conflict and disagreement well.

Teams on Ministry with the Conflict Engagement responsibility have the dual role of leading the development of good “muscles” for engaging conflict well in congregations, as well as developing and holding good process and patterns for the congregation during a time of conflict. This means more than times of congregational conflict with the congregation’s religious professionals, although engaging these kinds of conflicts are often the most visible. It could also mean helping individuals in the conflict engage in inter-personal conflicts and disagreements well, as well as seeing potential tensions in the congregation and finding ways for the congregation to engage those openly, honestly, and justly.

Of all of the roles a Team on Ministry may be called to play in a congregation, the Conflict Engagement role is one of the more challenging, and often the most rewarding. It takes intentionality for a congregation to learn to engage conflict well, and doing so is one of the most effective ways to live the commitments of our faith tradition.

 

Method for selecting members

The Team has 6 members, who serve 3-year terms with 2 rotating off each year.  Half of the members are chosen by the Board, with the concurrence of the minister, and half by the minister, with the concurrence of the Board.

Obvious qualities for Team members are emotional maturity, ability to speak truth to power with love and clarity, trusted by the congregation, trusted by the minister, ability to maintain confidentiality.

It’s important to have a mix of people on the Team so that the minister, the Board and the congregation can hear different points of view.  A variety of ages, sexes, church interests (RE, social justice, worship, etc.), belief systems, congregational history, and more, is important.

 

Team on Ministry Mission Statement – Click HERE

Team on Ministry Recommendation to the Board Letter – Click HERE

Team on Ministry Report to the Board of Trustees Letter – Click HERE