November 3, 2013

Identifying/revisiting themes around which we have energy and interest:

  • A case study
  • Future role of circuits
  • Grant update
  • Orders language in the Discipline
  • Planning and/or participating in future conference events
  • Scheduling future Covenant Team meetings
  • When Covenants Compete (an article by Jeremy Smith at Hacking Christianity)

We decided to focus on:

  • Orders language in the Discipline

Orders language in the Discipline

From ¶ 306:

“There shall be in each annual conference an Order of Deacons and an Order of Elders … An order is a covenant community within the church to mutually support, care for, and hold accountable its members for the sake and life of the mission of the church. These orders, separately or together, seek to respond to the spiritual hunger among clergy for a fulfilling sense of vocation, for support among peers during this stressful time of change in the Church, and for a deepening relationship with God.”

(Note: ¶ 323 contains similar language regarding the Fellowship of Local Pastors and Associate Members)

From ¶ 307:

“The specific and limited function of each order is to:

(1) provide for regular gatherings of ordained deacons and ordained elders for continuing formation in relationship to Jesus Christ through such experiences as Bible study, study of issues facing the church and society, and theological exploration in vocational identity and leadership;

(2) assist in plans for individual study and retreat experiences;

(3) develop a bond of unity and common commitment to the mission and ministry of The United Methodist Church and the annual conference;

(4) enable the creation of relationships that allow mutual support and trust; and

(5) hold accountable all members of the order in the fulfilling of these purposes.

All of the functions of the order(s) shall be fulfilled in cooperation and coordination with the Board of Ordained Ministry and do not replace the normal supervisory processes, the processes of evaluation for ordained ministers, or the responsibilities of the Board of Ordained Ministry, the cabinet, or the clergy session.”

(Note: ¶ 323 contains similar language regarding the Fellowship of Local Pastors and Associate Members)

A number of phrases in the above Discipline excerpts caught the attention of team members, notably:

  • “An order is a covenant community … for the sake and life of the mission of the church.”
  • “For support among peers during this stressful time of change in the Church.”

These ideas seemed to point us in the direction of creating & facilitating a stand-alone event at which consideration of these themes would be our prime directive.

Going forward

We understand the Covenant Team’s work to fall into both:

  • Creating new structure(s)
  • Working within existing structure(s)
  • For the purpose, in either case, of transformation.

Identifiable next steps

  • New structure: Creating and facilitating a gathering of the orders and fellowship for the purpose of transformation as outlined in ¶ 306, ¶ 307 and ¶ 323
  •  Existing structure: Inviting a conversation with Don Greer around evolving understanding of circuits, particularly related to issues of covenantal clergy relationships

Other miscellany

  • The Wisconsin UM Foundation approved a 2014 grant to the Covenant Team for $2,000 “for enlarging the Covenant Team.”
  • We set a tentative schedule of Covenant Team meetings on the 2nd Tuesdays of the month, 10a-3p at the Rader Center of Pine Lake Camp. These meetings would be Dec. 10, Jan. 14, Feb. 11, March 11, April 8 and May 13.

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