March Carillon Feature: Ministry @ SCC

Categories: Carillon Newsletter,News

Volunteers_Church_Bulletin_Cover1Special Feature

Ministry @ SCC

With our new framework for governance now in effect as of our Annual Meeting—and our Governing Board’s work off to a great start, as you’ll see elsewhere in this issue—early 2016 also brings with it the transitions in the ways our various ministry activities are structured and led.  The good news is that, of course, our ministry here at SCC continues onward even through this phase of transition, with volunteers old and new pitching in, responding to needs, thinking and planning, caring and sharing, and otherwise doing their part as we all seek to follow Christ’s callings together.  At the same time, though, there are still plenty of questions, confusions, even some concerns, since the truth is we don’t yet have every ‘i’ dotted and ‘t’ crossed about how everything should happen within our new framework.

Remind me, how is the new framework structured?  How’s it supposed to work?

The new framework for ministry leadership here at SCC is built around the concept of voluntary ministry teams.  The various activities and ministries we engage in as a congregation have been grouped into five broad core areas (plus administration as an extra core area), and all of the people engaged in doing things within an area constitute the overall core area as a whole.  Within each core area, there will develop more-focused ministry teams around particular ministries and responsibilities.

Let’s take as an example our “Worship, Music, and the Arts” core area.  This core area includes all of our activities and volunteers related to our worship and music life—activities like Sunday morning worship, special services, music concerts, funerals and memorial services (as in, the worship service itself), and so on; volunteers like ushers, singers in the choir, people who help with visual enhancements to the worship space, people who help host music concerts, liturgists, and so forth.  Together, all of these volunteers across make up the whole of the Worship, Music, and the Arts core area.  And within this core area, there are more specific ministry teams:  already existing ones include the choir, the ushers as a group, liturgists as a group, etc.; ones we could see developing include, potentially, a music concert support team (the seeds of which already exist among former music board members and other volunteers who have already helped in this area) and a lay worship planning team.

Providing coordination and oversight for the whole core area is a lead ministry coordinator (or LMC for short).  The LMC’s job is to guide and coordinate the core area by coordinating the activities of teams and volunteers within the core area, helping bring together ministry teams for particular activities or identifying team leaders among already existing ministry teams, managing the core area’s resources (including budgetary), facilitating communications within the core area and from the core area to others.  In their work, the LMCs are supported by and accountable to paid staff, specifically the pastoral staff, which is accountable to our congregation’s Governing Board.

In coordinating and overseeing the core area, each LMC is encouraged to delegate the oversight and responsibility within the core area as much as possible.  For example, to think about the worship area again, the LMC for worship does not, and should not, necessarily need to directly oversee and manage all of the usher team.  She could identify someone to ‘captain’ or be the team leader for that ministry team, and then interface primarily with that team leader.  Likewise, as another example, our LMC in outreach does not need to directly manage our participation in working at the Covenant Soup Kitchen.  She can identify a volunteer to head-up our soup kitchen team, and then interface primarily with that volunteer as may be needed.

So, what are our core areas, and who are our Lead Ministry Coordinators?

Our five ministry core areas are:  Worship, Music, and the Arts; Reaching Out through Missions, Service, and Social Responsibility; Faith Formation and Education; Caring for Each other; and Hospitality and Congregational Life.  In addition, we have an area identified for Administrative Support.

In the core area of Worship, Music, and the Arts, we actually have two Lead Ministry Coordinators.  The first is our Director of Music Ministry, Dr. Patricia Snyder.  In her position with us, she takes on the same responsibilities as a Lead Ministry Coordinator for all of those things within this core area having to do with our music ministries.  The second is our Worship Coordinator, Erin Scholes.  Erin is a deacon within our congregation, and in her role as worship coordinator will work with the rest of the core area’s activities and volunteers, from maintaining our worship space and appointments, to interfacing with the various teams of volunteers that help make worship happen, to potentially catalyzing lay worship planning processes or other creative growth in our worship ministries.  Erin will work closely with Trisha as appropriate, and interfaces with Pastor Matt as her primary staff link.

In the core area of Reaching Out through Missions, Service, and Social Responsibility, Pastor Matt will be putting forward to the Governing Board at its March 1st meeting the recommendation to appoint as Outreach Ministry Coordinator Carolyn Holmy.  Carolyn has been on our former Board of Christian Outreach a couple of different times, including in period leading up to this transition.  Carolyn will interface with Pastor Nancy as her primary staff link.

In the core area of Faith Formation and Education, the role of lead ministry coordinator will be fulfilled by our Minister for Faith Formation and Discipleship, the Rev. Nancy McLaren.  As most of you know, Pastor Nancy has been on staff with SCC since late 2011, first for a year as a part-time Specialist in Christian Education and Faith Formation Ministries, and then since December 2012 as one of our called pastors.

In the area of Hospitality and Congregational Life, leadership and oversight will be from our Congregational Life Coordinator, Pam Roberts.  A long-time member and leader among us, Pam has served in many places within the life of our congregation, and yet the focus of this role is a new one for her.  As Congregational Life Coordinator, she will help facilitate the aspects of what we do together that are oriented toward building community among our congregants, as well as providing extravagant hospitality to newcomers in our midst.  Current activities in this area include things like our after-church coffee hour, our Welcome Table ministry, and periodic fellowship events such as potlucks, but we anticipate creativity and growth in this core area as we explore new and more effective ways to build community among us.  Pam will interface with Pastor Matt as her primary staff link.

In the area of Administrative Support, there are three people serving in lead ministry coordinator roles.  The first is our Office Administrator, Deborah Gacek.  Deborah has been part of our staff here at SCC since mid-2010, and will continue to oversee all of the general operations and administrative aspects that she’s very capably handled already.  The second is our Building and Grounds Coordinator, Duffy Brookes.  Duffy, a member since 2011 and active part of our former Properties Board, will coordinate efforts that go into our facilities maintenance needs.  His primary staff links will be both Deborah and Pastor Matt.  Finally, we have our University Student Ministries Coordinator, Jan Castle.  In this LMC role, Jan will serve as the point-person for our ministries to, with, and among university students.  This includes interfacing with SCC’s UCC UConn liaison Andy McCabe and with UCC UConn’s student leadership directly.  But this role also enables us to expand our view to other ways, beyond UCC UConn and its major activities, that we are called to be in ministry in the university community.  Jan’s primary staff link will be with Pastor Matt.

For a quick review again, our current LMCs (including paid staff with LMC-level responsibilities) are…

  • Director of Music Ministry:  Dr. Patricia Snyder
  • Worship Coordinator:  Erin Scholes
  • Outreach Ministry Coordinator:  Carolyn Holmy
  • Faith Formation:  Rev. Nancy McLaren
  • Congregational Life Coordinator:  Pam Roberts
  • Office Administrator:  Deborah Gacek
  • Building and Grounds Coordinator:  Duffy Brookes
  • University Student Ministries Coordinator:  Jan Castle

Wait, isn’t one missing?  What about Caring Ministries?

Indeed, good catch!  The remaining core area is Caring for Each Other.  This area encompasses all of our ministries of pastoral and congregational care for one another, such as visitations to ‘shut ins’, meals for people or families going through crisis moments, cards and prayer shawls and other tokens of care, transportation to church and to other needs… and otherwise taking notice of our congregants, their lives, and their care needs.

Much of this area of ministry, as you probably recognize, comes under what we were calling “Call to Care”.  Really, our “Call to Care” ministry was an excellent prototype, in many ways, of the sort of flexible ministry team and ministry network structures we hope to have take shape across all of our core areas.  The activities and people involved up to now in “Call to Care” already form the core of our newly-named Caring Ministries core area, and the people active in providing ministry through “Call to Care” continue to make those ministries happen as we speak—and likely will continue to do so, as their interests, passions, and schedules allow.

The one thing that is still missing at the moment is the identification of the Caring Ministries Coordinator, the LMC for this core area.  Pastor Matt and others around the congregation are still searching, discussing, and discerning the right leadership for this area, as Pam Roberts (who’s been leading the Call to Care team) shifts into the Congregational Life Coordinator role.  In the meantime, Pam continues to assist with coordination of this ministry, and Pastor Matt himself does so as well.

If you have input about who you feel might be called to leadership within our ministries of care for one another, or if you yourself might be willing to explore if you are so called, please be in touch with Pastor Matt as soon as possible.

How can I get involved?  How do I get on a ministry team?  (After all, I had been serving on a Board previously, and now I don’t know what my role is…)

These are great questions!  The truth is, you probably already are!  Are you ushering?  Then you’re already on the usher team and a part of our overall Worship core area team!  Are you helping lead an adult class or teach Sunday School?  Then you’re already a part of our Faith Formation ministry team!  Have you hosted coffee hour or helped out with a potluck recently?  Then you’re already a part of the ministry team in Hospitality and Congregational Life!

But there undoubtedly other areas in which you want to be active, lend a hand, help decide on paths and priorities, or otherwise get involved.  So, what should you do?  Here are a few things to start with:

  1. Say something… speak up… volunteer! Perhaps it should be able to go without saying:  if you’re interested in continuing to help with an activity you’ve been a part of, or you would like to know about getting involved in something new, let us know!  Talk to the Lead Ministry Coordinator for the area of our congregation’s life in which your interest fits.  Don’t know which one that would be?  Then talk to any of them, and they’ll help refer you.  Or talk to Pastor Nancy or Pastor Matt… they’ll be happy to guide you, too.  In any case, even if we don’t have it quite figured out yet how your interest fits in the system yet, or how we’ll structure the thing you’d volunteer for, it is extremely helpful to know of your interest.
        Now, perhaps you are someone who’s not been so sure about this whole new framework, whether because of some reservation or because you’re simply not yet quite sure you ‘get’ how it’s all supposed to work.  Maybe you’ve said to yourself (or even to others) that you’re just going to hold back for a bit, watch how it all shapes up, and wait to see if someone asks you to do some task or fill some role.  If that’s you, our pastors and LMCs have a simple request… please don’t.  Please don’t hold back, waiting to see how (or even if) everything comes together or whether someone will ‘want’ you for something.  As Pastor Matt wrote about in his “Have a Minute?” article elsewhere in this issue of The Carillon, the truth is that none of us are clairvoyant.  The pastors and ministry coordinators aren’t able to know everyone’s interests and passions—or the ways in which someone might be waiting to be asked for something and subsequently hurt if it doesn’t happen… unless, of course, you let them know.  And, quite frankly, they shouldn’t have to try to magically figure it out… in our Congregationalist tradition, all of us members covenant together one with another to be the church together, to “walk in the ways of the Lord, made known or to be made known to us” and together “work and pray for the transformation of the world,” as our congregation’s covenant puts it.  Having taken on that covenant, each one of us has pledged to take responsibility for being the church together, for being ministers one to another, for being producers of this mission we carry out together and not merely consumers of it.  And part of Christ-like, self-giving, mature responsibility-taking means not holding back, waiting to see if someone else stumbles their way into what you were hoping to be asked to do.
  2. Complete our “The Gifs We Bring” inventory! One very easy and accessible way to let your interests, gifts, skills, and more be known is by filling out our new inventory called “The Gifts We Bring”.  This inventory helps all of our ministry leaders—our pastors, our lead ministry coordinators, and others—know what’s out there in our congregation in terms of knowledge-bases, passion, and willingness-to-volunteer.  You may not have a particular area or task you want to sign up for right now, but you do have gifts and interests, and by letting them be known on “The Gifts We Bring,” you give our ministry leaders the tools they need to connect you with fulfilling service and discipleship opportunities, that together we all can create an ever-more-vital and vibrant common life for our congregation.  And it’s easy!  Simply fill out one of the paper versions available at the church office, in the Meeting House Narthex, and in other places, and drop it in one of the submission boxes.  Or—even easier—go on the web to and fill it out online!
  3. Come to our SCC Ministry Fair on April 3rd after worship! On the Sunday after Easter, come on over to the Auditorium after worship and check out our Ministry Fair.  At the Ministry Fair—which is something we hope will become an annual or semi-annual occurrence—our LMCs and other leaders in each core area will be available to talk about what’s going on in that ministry area, ways someone could get involved, and more.  We’re just beginning to plan things, but know we hope for a fun and engaging time, and a great opportunity for you to learn about and get involved in all of our varied ministries and activities.
  4. Keep your eyes open for upcoming Ministry Forums!  Another feature of our new ministry framework will be periodic ministry forums around a particular core area.  A ministry forum is an open gathering of anyone from around the congregation who wants to be ‘in’ on the conversation about what’s going on in that core area.  Anyone and everyone can attend as a way to have input into the ministries of that particular core area.  At a ministry forum, we’ll discuss ministries in that core area that are already happening, to see what areas in that core area are strengths, and what needs strengthening.  We’ll talk about what ministries are “working” and what ones may need reworking or simply to be let go.  We’ll also open discussion up for new initiatives or ideas that people have related to that ministry area.  And we’ll ask for volunteers for the ministries we’ve been talking about.  Who has a passion for what we have just stated we “want” in our congregation?  If people do not want to make something happen, then it won’t.    
        That’s the basic idea of a core area ministry forum… and we’re still working out the details of how we’ll run them.  But keep your eyes peeled, as we expect some core areas to have a ministry forum in the near future, with Outreach being the core area we’ll likely do one on first.

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