Search PNC News for stories of people and churches in our UCC Conference:

Three from PNC attend Authorizing Ministries event

The Manual on Ministry project that Lois Farnsworth-Whysong is working on is one piece of the body of work that the team Ministerial Excellence Support and Authorization (MESA) team has engaged in the two years since its conception.  

tara barber
Tara Barber is chair of the Westside Committee on Ministry for the PNC.

Marsha Williams, transitional minister at Eastgate in Bellevue, Conference Minister Mike Denton and Tara Barber, chair of the Westside PNC Committee on Ministry, were among 150 attending the biennial Authorizing Ministries in the 21st Century (AM21) event, “Prepare the Way of the Lord!” event Dec. 3 to 6 at Savannah, Ga.

It drew people involved in the Search and Call processes, plus leaders in the national setting of the denomination, as well as seminary representatives and Committee on Ministry members.  

The event sought to engage the wisdom in the room in dialogue with denominational leaders, who are to support ministers and ministry settings throughout the UCC,” said Tara

They heard reports from Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi on the Center for Analytics, Research and Data (CARD) project; heard from each MESA team member; participated in topical conversations ranging from best practices in transfer of standing to the importance of small group Communities of Practice, to the Dream room where people used their imaginations related to church trends

In small groups, they worshipped, discussed and processed what they experienced.

The MESA team has rolled out a new profile for those seeking a call, and more than 4,000 people have tried it out, Tara reported.  They are creating unified processes throughout the denomination for Search Committees, Authorized Ministers, Committees on Ministry and Fitness Reviews, as well as re-writing the Manual on Ministry.

marsha williams
The Rev. Marsha Williams attends Authorizing Ministry event.

Across the UCC there are 173 Committees on Ministry, averaging 12 members per committee. PNC’s Committee on Ministry has 24 members on both sides of the conference.

That represents much volunteer time in the essential work of the church, Tara said.

We did not do our work in isolation.  When the decision not to indict the Staten Island police officer was announced, we redirected our energies to finding a faithful response,” she said.  “We made plans to engage in our local settings, as well as making signs, singing protest songs and encouraged our collegium of officers to act while we were still in Savannah.

The collegium wrote a letter and shared a litany designed for a witness during worship on the third Sunday of Advent, she said.  The litany is at

Highlights included naming characteristics of healthy congregations and pastors.

“Studies show that congregations who are more welcoming and diverse are more healthy and vibrant.” Tara said.  “While every church wants a pastor who can preach well and engage with Scripture, those who are most successful are also those who can set a vision and help a congregation navigate change.

The report is at

“Ministers who are supported by peers and structures are able to be more healthy in ministry.  Places where small groups are used have seen a dramatic increase in retention of new pastors—up to 50 percent of new clergy leave the ministry in the first five years, and the rates of Fitness Reviews have dropped dramatically,” Tara reported.

“These statistics match what we are seeing in our local churches, and among our clergy.  We are looking forward to developing small group Communities of Practice here in the next year, and have committed to offering resources to better equip both clergy and congregations for the changing landscape of ministry.

It is good to be among the leaders in our denomination, who are passionate about excellence in ministry,” she said.  “We returned inspired and re-committed to do our work better and more intentionally, so we can be about the coming of God’s kindom on earth.”

Another highlight was “Clergy Ethics: The Musical,” written by the Office of General Counsel of the UCC.  Prominent UCC clergy made costumed cameo appearances in scenes raising important ethical issues, which were also illustrated by some popular songs exploring sexual ethics.

For information, call (425) 213-9335 or email


Pacific Northwest Conference United Church News Copyright © December 2014



Share this article on your favorite social media Bookmark and Share