Submitted by: Rev. Andria M. Davis, Committee Chair
Over the last several months, the Board of Directors, along with Association Ministers and Association Committees on Ministry, have been discussing how best to support our Association Committees on Ministry in the hard, time-consuming, resource-heavy, thankfully infrequent and very important process of Ministerial Fitness Reviews.
Ministerial Support and Accountability processes are part of the ecclesiastical covenant between clergy who serve in the United Church of Christ and the wider manifestations of the denomination (Associations and Conferences). Occasionally, it may become necessary for a Committee on Ministry to conduct an Accountability Process in response to questions regarding unhealthy conduct and misbehavior of a person with ministerial standing in light of the UCC Ministerial Code.
Currently, these fitness reviews are conducted by each Association’s Committee on Ministry using the guidelines outlined in the UCC Manual on Ministry. In discussion with the Association Ministers and as well as with current and past members of the various Committees on Ministry, the Board of Directors has recognized that there are some significant limitations to our current practice of holding Fitness Reviews at the Association level.
Some of these limitations include:
- Insufficient training to support a fair process for both the Committee on Ministry and the Clergy in Question
- Limited resources, including personnel and time, to adequately support the Committees on Ministry
- Lack of impartiality given the small size of our Associations
- Lack of parity between Associations within the Conference because of inconsistencies in the process. (i.e. what is deemed inappropriate in one Association, may not be considered inappropriate in another)
It is for these reasons, that the Board of Directors is considering a Conference Level Fitness Review Committee that would, in conjunction with Association Committees on Ministry, facilitate Ministerial Fitness Reviews if and when they should arise.
Over the next several months, we will be seeking feedback from the Conference, as well as providing education about this complicated but important process.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Rev. Andria M. Davis