Sunday, January 17, 2010

Common Ministry Summary

Presented at Grace Church on January 17, 2010 by Roger Perna and Wanda Miller

The following information is a very brief summary of ideas that the Common Ministry Committee has compiled in the past few months as we have been preparing to decide if we, as a congregation at Grace, want to pursue the avenue of Common Ministry as we have been invited to do by the Diocese of Southern Ohio. The congregation will make this decision on Sunday, January 24, 2010. The information in this paper was taken from the Common Ministry articles previously posted on the Grace Church Public File Cabinet.

At Grace Church, we have defined Common Ministry as a collaborative ministry, shared equally by all in the faith community. It holds the vision that all are united in the body of Christ, each with special gifts and unique ministries and all share in the Church’s work of reconciling the world to God.

In October, 2009, Bishop Breidenthal sent us an invitation to develop Common Ministry. He stated six Goals of the Common Ministry Program as offered by the Diocese:

  1. Develop a vision and mission strategy for your congregation.
  2. Identify a Mission and Formation team (Leadership Team) within the congregation.
  3. Create a vision and understanding of common ministry.
  4. Identify gifts within the congregation and develop ministry teams utilizing these gifts.
  5. Provide training to develop strong leadership of the Mission and Formation Team.
  6. Offer training to members of the congregation to support their ministries.

Congregations that decide to participate in the program will be asked to develop a mission strategy between February and April. A consultant will be assigned to each congregation to help facilitate this process. Consideration of the Church’s local context will be considered during this process. Bible study and prayer will a part of this discernment.

In May and June gifts workshops will be offered so members can discern their particular calling to ministry. During this time, the congregation will also identify their Leadership Team.

Beginning in late August the Leadership Teams of all participating congregations will begin having quarterly overnight meetings to offer support and training. The Leadership Teams will bring formation activities back to their respective congregations.

In the summer of 2011 evaluation of the program will take place.

Here are some additional thoughts that Bishop Breidenthal has expressed concerning Common Ministry:

Common Ministry is central to the call of this diocese to "proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, as Messiah and Lord. We fulfill that mission chiefly by being ministers of the reconciliation between us and God, and between us and one another, won by Christ on the cross."

"Together, these spiritual practices form one practice, one name for which is common ministry: a ministry that is open, egalitarian, and collaborative. This name invokes the idea of the common, with all the resonance it retains when we speak of The Book of Common Prayer. 'Common' means everything owned by everyone, and so no secrets (transparency). 'Common' also means shared responsibility, and so shared leadership and mutual accountability. Finally, 'common' means shared identity, and therefore connection with the common purpose of ministry in the name of Jesus."

We hope that this information has been helpful to you in further understanding some of the details involved in Common Ministry.

Sincerely, Your Common Ministry Committee

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bible Study Prepares for Common Ministry

Sixteen Grace members participated in a Bible study led by Roger Perna during coffee hour on January 10. This study, intended to help better understand the concept of Common Ministry, was on Ephesians 4:1-16, informally known as Paul's discourse on "Unity in the Body of Christ."

The following words or  phrases stood out to many members of the group as capturing the essence of the passage: 

  • "We must no longer be children,"
  • "Lead a life worthy of your calling,"
  • "Each of us is given grace,"
  • "Unity,"
  • "Speak the truth in love,"
  • "One faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all."
  Here are some ideas that were expressed during our discussions:
  • The message of this passage is pretty much the same today as it was when it was written in the first century; we must bear with each other's faults and weaknesses, and show love toward one another, while making an attempt to maintain the unity of the Spirit in peace.
  • This passage is a good analysis of human nature; we need to learn to yield our own wants in order to maintain the unity necessary to move forward. All of us have a "lesser self" that we must learn to overcome.
  • It is hard for us to be together "in Christ" if we are at odds with one another.
  • We all have different gifts that we can bring to advance the work of God, which is the mission of Grace Church. 
  • Many of us do not know our own gifts. Many times others are better at discerning our gifts than we are.
  • We are constantly learning lessons about our gifts that we did not know before.
  • One of us was reminded of the hymn "God is working his purpose out as year succeeds year . ."  (Hymnal 1982, #534).
  • We need to be in constant prayer as we discern our gifts.

  Here are some other passages recommended to study as relating to Common Ministry:

Thanks to Roger Perna for providing this excellent summary.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Answers to Common Ministry Questions

The questions were posed by Grace Church members on August 2, 2009. The answers were developed by the Grace Church Common Ministry Committee.

What is the definition of Common Ministry? Common ministry is a collaborative ministry, shared equally by all in the faith community. It holds the vision that all are united in the body of Christ, each with special gifts and unique ministries and all share in the Church’s work of reconciling the world to God.

What are some of the existing models of Common Ministry churches? Models of Common Ministry or Total Ministry as it is sometimes called have been done in Michigan, California, Tennessee and Virginia, just to name a few.

How do we create the correct list of functions needed to keep the congregation together?  There is no “correct” list. We keep together through praying, worshipping and working together.

How is the Common Ministry team formed? Who’s in charge and how are they elected?  The team is formed by the congregation through a discernment and gifts assessment.

How does the discernment process work? A facilitator assigned by the Diocese will help us.

How are priests raised from the congregation?  Can a congregation raise more than one priest?  Are there any age qualifications for priests?  Can the Bishop ordain a deacon to become a priest in a Common Ministry church? No priests may be raised from the congregation. Priests must be seminary trained and go through the regular diocesan process for becoming a priest

What are the track records of other churches that have used Common Ministry? It is similar to those who are not a Common Ministry church.

Is Common Ministry just for poor churches?  No! Shared authority for ministry is applicable to any and every congregation, from the smallest to the largest.

What Diocesan support is available if we want to explore Common Ministry? The Diocese has invited us to participate in the pilot program which will include a focused set of conversations about Common Ministry. To assist in this conversation the Diocese has received a grant from the Jessie Ball DuPont Fund.

If we become a Common Ministry church, will we ever hire professional clergy again? We can if we want and have the financial resources to do so.

Can the church grow in a Common Ministry model? Yes!

Will we be able to have Eucharist every Sunday?  Yes, if we have the financial resources to so. We also have the opportunity to experiment with other types of services.

During the interim period, how can we do weddings and funerals? Weddings can be done by anyone licensed by the state. For Episcopalians that is usually a priest. Funerals can be done by lay ministers if there is no Eucharist.

Carol Lyon, 1/1/2010