Shared Ministry in a Time of Pandemic

By Kathy McGowan, Nancy Combs-Morgan

Who would have ever thought that something good could emerge during a pandemic? From our perspective, serving as Congregational Life staff, we have been so inspired by the good, adaptive, and transformative ways our congregations have responded to COVID19. Well, here is some more good news, this time of pandemic has made evident how central relationships are to our theology and ways of being Unitarian Universalist congregations and communities.

Hopefully, when you think of relational ministry you then become inspired to give deeper consideration to shared ministry. Know that shared ministry embodies a whole church vision. A whole church vision, which reflects the understanding that everything we do is faith development, and goes beyond thinking in themes, for it is truly a multi gene-“relational” way of being beloved community.

What we know - sustainable and transformative shared ministry experiences require clarity of covenant, vision, mission, and roles. In terms of those roles, as our beloved Congregational Life colleague, Rev. Renee Ruchotzke has expressed in Putting the Shared in Shared Ministry: “One of the most important factors in a vibrant congregation is a high level of covenantal trust between the minister and the lay leaders. When I say covenantal, I intentionally mean the promises made between the leaders and members and in service to that which is greater than the congregation itself, articulated in the mission.”

Yes, seeking to embody shared ministry does require trust, which is the foundation of shared ministry.

We trust our congregational leaders to realize that even in a time of pandemic it is important to continue building relational connections. Other than functioning, such as providing worship, having virtual board and congregational meetings (and so much more), it is also essential to use this time to shore up multigenerational relationships.

Shared ministry is an opportunity to simplify. By simplifying you get to the essence of what is truly important in your congregation’s life. Now is a great time to get rid of extraneous stuff; to make sure that we look at who we are; what we want to become, and what is our identity.

Shared ministry is also thinking about how we are in right relationships. Strangely enough, during your COVID19 response is the perfect time to focus on shared ministry.

May we all be focused on covenant at our center.

About the Authors

Kathy McGowan

Kathy McGowan has been on the Congregational Life Staff for the Southern Region of the Unitarian Universalist Association since 2013. In that time her areas of focus have been in systems thinking, theology, conflict, intercultural sensitivity, and staff supervision. She is one of the primary...

Nancy Combs-Morgan

Nancy Combs-Morgan has been immersed in Unitarian Universalist faith development for 26+ years, including 6 as a Director of Religious Education, and 20 years on UUA district and regional staff.

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