ASSOCIATION OF MINISTERS
As an Association of Ministers within Region 15 we affirm the following:
Ministry is a Gift, Calling, Profession, and a Job.
As a GIFT the ministry of the church comes from God, who invites and empowers the followers of Jesus to engage in the works of love and justice for God, neighbour, creation, and self. Service, justice and love belong to God before they are shared with us. “To embody God’s love in the world, the work of the church requires the ministry and discipleship of all believers.” (A Song of Faith) Within the wider ministry that is the work of all God’s people, the United Church recognizes and authorizes certain individuals for the work of Ordained, Diaconal, and Designated Lay Ministries. For healthy functioning the church needs those who are publicly and continually responsible for Christian guidance, out of a multiplicity of gifts and who represent the church universal in the local context.
Those whom the church authorizes as ministers are participants in a two-part CALLING – represented in the mystery of the Spirit’s interaction with the individual and the church’s affirmation of that calling to ministry within the United Church of Canada. Consider: “The gifts given were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-12). In the United Church ministry is primarily exercised through three streams: Ordained, Diaconal, and Designated Lay Ministry, however the actual forms, function and locations of ministry practice may well change throughout an individual’s life. Ministry is a way of life, a way of interpreting the world, a way of seeking justice. It is public and reflective. Ministers carry the church’s faith as well as their own.
Ministry is a PROFESSION – ministers profess the faith of the church and accept the authorization and discipline of the church, seeking God’s grace and proclaiming where it is seen and empowering the witness of the church in honest and constructive paths. Within the profession, the denomination and the community of faith enter into covenant with ministers for the skilled, faithful, and ethical performance of certain tasks – but ministers cannot and do not exercise ministry to replace the church. Ministry also has a mystical element, evidenced at commissioning and ordination where the liturgical action is one of laying on hands, symbolizing the gift of the Holy Spirit. It also conveys the authority from those who have carried it before – a connection through generations. The laying on of hands represents the external call; the reception of this represents the internal call.
For those employed in accountable ministry it is also a JOB. The effective accomplishment of specified tasks in an ethical fashion is a reasonable expectation of the church. An appropriate level of remuneration and the according of the respect due to the educational preparation, deep commitment to God, and responsibility of the role is a reasonable expectation of ministers. Because ministry is exercised with the church – at one and the same time a divinely inspired and deeply human community – conflict as well as joy are expected parts of ministry. The United Church of Canada, as party to the different covenants and recognition of ministry, has a responsibility to create just structures and processes that, as clearly as possible, honour both the divine call and natural justice in the resolution of conflict.
ASSOCIATION OF MINISTERS
Within Region 15, the Association of Ministers is a voluntary organization that has a three-fold focus in “Collegiality-Support-Advocacy.”
- through initiating events for fellowship, support, and continuing education;
- through encouraging the formation of clusters and networks of shared practice
- through offering a regular meeting in addition to the annual meeting of the Region
- as something new within the United Church, beginning as a committee within the governance structure of Region 15, the Association will need to develop appropriate structures and roles to facilitate the work
- these structures will need to develop organically as the members of the Association discern the forms and expressions which will be most beneficial
- membership is voluntary and open to all ministry personnel serving in the Region as well as those retained on the roll, retired, and candidates for ministry.
- the members of the Association will determine the forms of services offered to members and how those will be financially sustained, including but not limited to dues, user pay, grants, donations and so on.
- through the ending of the Presbytery system and the investing of considerable resources and authority in the Office of Vocation which primarily functions as a regulatory and disciplinary body, the United Church as directly impacted the place of ministry personnel within the church structure
- the Association will work to create means through which ministry personnel can find collegial support
- the Association will investigate, and if possible, implement training in advocacy and accompaniment, in order to have individuals available for those members who request such supports
- the members of the Association will explore other means for support of ministry personnel who may find themselves in conflict with the structures of the church
- the Association of Ministers in Region 15 has as one of its goals helping to foster a National Association of Ministers. Given that the General Council has determined that each Region should address the question of an Association in its own way, there is no natural structure for accomplishing this goal. The Region 15 Association will have, as a priority, fostering relations with similar bodies in other regions towards the achieving of this common goal.