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Covenant ministers multiply ministry at Magnolia

Magnolia UCC in Seattle has developed a new model for ordained ministry with Covenant Ministers.

Marci Scott Weiss, the pastor, said the idea grew from a book by former General Minister and President John Dorhauer, Church 2.0 and Church 3.0, on alternative models of ministry.

“When I started at Magnolia six years ago, I wanted to develop alternative models,” she said.

The church has now called four covenant ministers who are in three-way covenants with the church, the Conference and themselves.

All four are are involved with MCUCC in a mix of paid and volunteer roles that are carefully negotiated with each based on their needs and wishes, Marci said.

The church converses with each on how to make just relationships so they are fairly compensated.

MCUCC is their home church for their standing. They are active in the church, the community and world, each in different ways based on the gifts and skills they bring.

“Our community has made a commitment to welcome and support these relationships with ministers who are ordained to specialized ministries, not parish ministry. We feel called to support them to do good world in the world,” said Marci.

Previous Committees on Ministry were hesitant about ordaining people into specialized ministries except chaplaincy, she said.

Magnolia’s covenant ministers are seminary prepared, went through the member in discernment process and felt called to ministry.

“Bringing their unique, diverse gifts, we said there is a home for you here and we value your work. All are members of our congregation and participate in worship and the arts planning,” Marci said. “Magnolia offers them a way to live out their calls.

• Maureen McLain teaches a class on the history of the UCC for Magnolia and for the PNW-UCC Conference.

• Carson Hawkes offered a class, “Conversations with God,” and a series on grief.

• Becky Withington is doing a monthly Zoom series on “The Mystic in You” for Magnolia and the Conference at 7 p.m. on last Tuesdays.

• Michael Haven, who does Bibliodrama, will prepare a drama for the installation of the four at Covenant Ministers at 10 a.m., Sunday, Nov. 12.

Previously Michael offered a Bibliodrama on the story of the bleeding woman for Domestic Violence Sunday, Sept. 24. She also prepares Bibliodramas for other churches.

“Bibliodrama brings Bible stories to life to engage people,” Marci said.

Each also shares in pulpit supply when needed.

“It’s an alternative way to do ministry in the world,” Marci said, noting some are retired or near retirement, and some have other full-time jobs.

“It’s a beautiful partnership of collaboration in relationship to my ministry. It’s a model of teamwork that uses diverse gifts in ministry,” she said.

The covenanted ministers are based in Magnolia, but not limited to it. They add to the creativity in worship.

Each shared their unique pilgrimages into this model of ministry in articles that follow




Pacific NW United Church of Christ Conference News © October 2023


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