Other Churches

Competency-based assessment for ministerial authorization in the United Church of Christ : a model for implementation

Author
Nora Driver Foust
Abstract
Knowledge is readily available today with Google and other search engines designed to answer any question. However, the integration of knowledge into understanding and competency is not as straightforward. To address the challenge of integration of knowledge and competency for ministerial authorization, this project follows Richard Osmer’s four tasks of practical theology and looks at the United Church of Christ’s (UCC) Marks of Faithful and Effective Authorized Ministers alongside principles of competency-based assessment. The project presents a working model for UCC Committees on Ministry across the denomination for implementation of the new Manual on Ministry (MOM). The new MOM embraces a single form of authorized ministry and the use of the competency-based Marks with all ministerial candidates, seminarians, and those on alternative paths to authorization. Alongside a model for UCC Committees on Ministry, this project opens doors to further change in the UCC’s process and points to possible implementation of competency-based assessment programs in other denominations. This project opens with a glossary and the state of the field in Chapter 1 leading to the research question on how the UCC might move to embrace the Marks and develop an implementation strategy for using them in a true competency-based approach. Chapter 2 includes a literature review. Chapter 3 offers a glimpse at how the education world uses competency-based assessment and offers five principles for how their use might be carried over into the assessment work of UCC Committees on Ministry. Chapter 4 presents the model for how one UCC Conference implemented this use and Chapter 5 draws conclusions and points readers forward to possible application of a competency-based assessment model in their own setting.

Paying attention : comparison of desired characteristics of ministerial leadership in the United Church of Christ

Author
Kay S. Rader
Abstract
Meeting leadership needs of the United Church of Christ, which includes finding the best ways to prepare new leaders for authorization, has been a lively conversation in the denomination in recent years. A decade of study led to a national Pronouncement on ministry issues in 2005 which suggested ways to move into the future while taking into account the remarkable diversity of faith communities within the denomination.

The broad range of ecclesiologies, with their corresponding theologies of ministry, has made the denominational conversation rich, but it has also made the task of coming to consensus on ministry issues challenging. In order to gain a better understanding of our practices in preparation for creating new guidelines for authorization, one directive of the Pronouncement was to “pay attention to our theologies of ministry in the UCC, especially ordained ministry.”

This project applies an ecclesiological typology to the descriptive language in current local and national denominational guidelines for identifying, preparing, and authorizing candidates for ministry, for the purpose of comparing the preferences which are revealed in them. Preferences are arrayed, and similarities and discrepancies between local and national materials are noted. In particular, this project observes whether or not the full range of ecclesiological diversity of the United Church of Christ is reflected in the guidelines for authorization, what differences exist between the sets of guidelines in this respect, and what the significance of those differences may be. The intent of this project is to contribute to the ongoing denominational conversation.

Bi-vocational ministry : what works from the perspective of bi-vocational ministers and their congregants

Author
Daniel Jon Lundquist
Abstract
This project seeks to answer the question, "what is working in bi-vocational settings from the perspective of both the bi-vocational ministers and their congregants?" This is being researched to better understand how the members of churches, in conjunction with their pastors, can better use their God-given gifts in bi-vocational settings. This is significant for two reasons. The first is that more and more churches and denominations, including the more mainline white United Church of Christ (UCC) churches, are either seeking or needing bi-vocational ministers. The second is that, as churches move forward, and hopefully embrace, bi-vocational church living, they can, and oftentimes do, discover their own ministerial callings. These callings are grounded not only in the biblical tradition but also in the Reformed tradition. This project is qualitative in nature. It conducted a survey in which ministers and congregations who are working and serving in bi-vocational settings were asked several questions on what, how, and why certain concepts are a success in their church settings. This was done mostly in the Central Atlantic Conference-UCC. This is what I tested in my surveys and interviews: the views about bi-vocational living held by both the bi-vocational minister and their congregants and how these views contributed to the success of "bi-vocationalism." The results appear to be able to give pastors, congregations, congregants, denominations, and seminarians--especially those in the UCC-Central Atlantic Conference--a better understanding of what makes for a successful bi-vocational ministry.

Claiming lives when justice is denied

Author
Susan A Minasian
Abstract
“Claiming Lives of Peace When Justice is Denied” is a theological essay on forgiveness and how the humanity of Jesus on the cross can serve as a model to clarify forgiveness as a spiritual practice. In this essay, the reader will be introduced to the denial on the part of the Turkish government and the role of the Ottoman Turkish government in the genocide of Armenians in 1915. It is my position that denial creates a burden for the survivors of genocide and other traumas. I contend that the victims need to receive a sense of agency in considering forgiveness as an on-going spiritual practice instead of an immediate destination. We will consider voices in the current conversation about forgiveness and discover that they all come to somewhat of the same conclusion that we must all forgive. Forgiveness is seen as a mandate of Christian piety and we must also be agents of forgiveness for our own wellbeing. I agree and yet find these positions to be limited. I propose that we take this saying of Jesus on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing,” and consider how this is his moment of emptying himself and claiming the fullness of his humanity in all of its limitations. In this moment he is praying and releasing his desire for forgiveness to God. We do not know if he refused to say “I” forgive you. While forgiveness is inherent in the act of even praying for his “Father” to do so, it is a profound moment and a model for victims and survivors to move further on the spiritual journey toward thriving.

Decolonizing our bodies, minds and spirits : resiliency and spiritual practices among Unitarian Universalist religious professionals of color

Author
Rebekah Ann Savage
Abstract
"[In this project paper, the author examines and reflects upon] . . . the resilience of Unitarian Universalist religious professionals of color and indigenous people through spiritual practices as a way towards liberation and intersectional justice. The author recruited thirty-six [Unitarian Universalist] religious professionals [to participate in] a [six-week] structured program of learning and reflection . . . . [The program was designed to help participants] identify spiritual disconnects between religious and spiritual beliefs and everyday lived experience. As evidenced by beginning and post-project surveys and periodic narrative prompts, the participants affirmed the positive results of the program which led to a deeper spiritual integration and wholeness." -- Leaf [2].

Interim religious education in the Unitarian Universalist tradition

Author
Michele Townsend Grove
Abstract
Does the interim religious education program developed by Unitarian Universalist religious educators work as a valid process for religious education and religious education professional transitions in the local church? The author used interviews and surveys of Unitarian Universalist religious educators, ministers, regional staff and lay persons to identify notable patterns of success and challenges in this specialized field. The final project outlines successes and challenges of interim religious education and includes suggestions for improvement.

[Note about entry: Abstract submitted to the Atla RIM database on behalf of the author. The text appears in its entirety as it does in the original abstract page of the author’s project paper. Neither words nor content have been edited.]
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