- An inquiry has been made of the bishop’s office, Dan Dick and Sam Royappa (as a representative of the cabinet) as to whether clergy covenant is scheduled to be the topic of any future event being planned (e.g. clergy day, bishop’s day apart, regional gathering, etc.)
- That small covenant groups, such as the one that spontaneously grew out of Annual Conference, offer the possibility of transformation (relationships that go beyond the surface)
- The functioning of the Board of Ordained Ministry offers one way in which an important task gets accomplished in the midst of diverse theologies. For example: “We have an intense job to do together, and we have something we need to accomplish.” “Considering the intense work we do, there’s a good balance between work and fellowship together.” “Worship helps set that setting. We worship together every night.” “It feels safe to say what you’re thinking and feeling. I do feel I’m heard, even if I’m not agreed with.”
- “Being in covenant is not to expect you to agree with me, but a chance to come to meet you and learn from you.”
- Spending time physically with one another makes a difference.
- That focusing covenant work in the Orders and Fellowship might further segregate elders, deacons and local pastors.
- The ethos described by the members of the BoOM about their work together does not seem to reflect the larger culture of clergy.
- How large can covenant groups or communities be? “We have 30 people on BoOM, and that’s the ragged edge of un-manageability.”
- Clergy are prone to territorialism. “This is my congregation.” We may be hesitant to support another’s program.
- There’s not only fear but mistrust among clergy, if we reveal too much about ourselves. Most clergy have been burned by other clergy at some point.
- Where did we lose the idea that a task of clergy is to be colleagues?
- We are pulled in multiple directions by major shifts in technology and culture. As church, we value some of the antiquated ideas such as face-to-face.
- For being a connectional church, some say the UMCs are the least connected.
- Is collegiality like exercise? We believe it’s a good idea, but we don’t necessary take the time to do it.
- “We’ve made a lot of progress this past year, but this feels like starting over, an unsafe place again. There is exhaustion waiting for systemic change.”
- It’s easier to focus on what we’re not supposed to do than on what we’re supposed to do.
- That the Clergy Covenant Team is not necessarily a covenant group in and of itself, but is an instigator or provocateur for a process that vitalizes clergy relationships.
Possible next steps
- To really look at “orders language” in the Discipline to see whether these are things we want to do, or are just words. Gathering with the orders with that as the focal point of conversation. To do this before Annual Conference, and then report to Annual Conference.
- Considering how circuits fit into this picture. (We are awaiting news of the recently completed study of circuits.)
- Developing further resources — electronic or printed — to add depth to the conversation.
- Including the retired clergy association in this conversation, along with the chairs of the Orders and the Fellowship.
- Expanding this conversation at some point to include laity.