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Committee on Ministry
Many congregations have a committee to assist and work with the professional minister or ministers.
An older model is the Ministerial Relations Committee, which tends to be an advocate for, and a support and guidance group to, the minister or ministers. The focus of these groups generally is limited to professional ministers, rather than to the overall state of the congregation's ministry. In unhealthy congregations, this model can lead to triangulation.
A newer model is the Committee on Ministry (CoM), which focuses on all aspects of the congregation's ministry, including professional leadership, music, social justice, religious education, pastoral care, and so on. This model helps the congregation make sure that its ministries are serving its mission and vision.
In practice, congregations have used the names interchangeably, so some congregations have creatively tweaked the name (e.g. Committee on Shared Ministries) to distinguish the difference.
An excellent description of the Committee on Ministry Model is described in Robert Latham's book Moving on from Church Folly Lane: The Pastoral to Program Shift.
There are also on-demand webinars available:
- Committees on Ministry: An Overview (free registration required).
- A Dozen Good Ideas about Committes on Ministry (slideshare) by Rev. Barbara Child
- How to Complain or transforming a Ministerial Relations Committee or a Committee on Ministry to a Healthy Communications Team by Daniel O'Connell
See Assessing Our Leadership (PDF, 37 pages; see 26-31) for a description of CoMs.
See UU Ministers Association guidelines for additional ministry assessment tools.
Inclusion in the Bylaws
In drafting or revising this section of the bylaws, take time to understand the philosophical differences between the two kinds of groups, as well as which one the congregation desires. Provisions concerning these committees can be included in the bylaws in either the section on committees or the section on the minister.
For more information read Joint Recommendations Concerning Letters of Agreement between Ministers and Congregations (PDF, 21 pages) in section E, "The Committee on Ministry." This document was produced jointly by the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association and the Ministry and Professional Leadership staff group of the Unitarian Universalist Association. For further information, please contact the Ministry and Professional Leadership staff group of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Example 1: There will be a continuing Committee on Ministry consisting of three (3) members serving staggered three (3) year terms, with one member's term ending each year. When vacancies occur, the minister shall submit twice as many names as vacancies to the Board, who shall select the new member(s) from this slate. No member of the Board may serve on the Committee on Ministry. (1) Upon arrival of a newly called minister, the Board shall include in the Committee at least two (2) members from the Search Committee that recommended the new minister. (2) The Committee on Ministry shall meet at least quarterly in a non-crisis, goal-oriented manner with an agenda to explore the various concerns and challenges of the Minister/Congregation relationship and the Congregation's own role and agreed-responsibility in shared ministry. (3) The Committee on Ministry shall assist and support the Minister in her/his plans for professional development, sabbaticals, etc. The Committee shall alert the Board to any emerging concerns between the Minister and the Congregation.
Example 2: The Committee on Ministry is a continuing body whose purpose is to strengthen the quality of ministry within the congregation. It serves as a support group for the Minister and as a communication channel between the Minister and members of the Association. The Committee on Ministry shall be composed of four (4) Association members. Two (2) members will be appointed each year at the January Regular Meeting and will serve a two (2) year term. The Minister and the Moderator shall jointly nominate the candidates and present the names to the Association for confirmation. Committee Members may succeed themselves only once. If a member of the Committee is unable, for any reason, to complete the term for which he/she was appointed, such vacancy shall be filled within thirty (30) days by the Board of Governors from a nomination made jointly by the Minister and Moderator. Such an appointment shall be for the remainder of the vacated term. When a new minister is called, the existing Committee shall be augmented by two (2) members chosen by the new Minister and the Moderator. This six (6) member Committee shall serve until the following January Regular Meeting at which time the two (2) recently added members will continue for one (1) year terms. The terms of the other four (4) members will end and two (2) new members will be appointed. The Committee shall meet once a month, except in July and August, with a written agenda for each meeting, so that during the course of the year, each aspect of the Ministerial/Congregational relationship will be reviewed. Reviews of the Minister's performance in relation to expectations, and reviews of the congregation's performance in relations to goals, should be undertaken annually. The Committee shall annually recommend the Minister's compensation package for inclusion in the budget.
Example 3: The Ministerial Relations Committee shall be composed of five (5) voting members. Terms of office for Committee members shall begin on July 1 of the first fiscal year after election and end on June 30 of the second fiscal year. Terms of office of three (3) committee members shall begin in even numbered years. Terms of office of two (2) committee members shall begin in odd numbered years. This Committee shall promote and facilitate the relationship between the Minister and Congregation and shall receive, investigate, and respond to all matters affecting the ministerial-congregational relationship. This Committee shall negotiate the Minister's conditions of employment in consultation with the Board, and jointly with the Board shall propose the minister's compensation to the Congregation. This Committee shall be elected by the Congregation from candidates mutually agreed upon by the Nominations Committee and the Minister, or provided by the Nominations Committee if the Church is without a minister.