Governance, Discernment, and Opportunities – November 2016
Our governance model at Sackville United Church is a model with discernment at its centre. In Christianity, the word “discernment” may have several meanings. It can be used to describe the process of determining God’s desire in a situation or one’s life; in our case that is demonstrated as we determine the ministries that we initiate and participate in (Discernment Board) and it answers the question of “who are we” and “what is God calling us to”. “Discernment” can also describe the interior search for an answer to the question of one’s vocation, namely, determining whether or not God is calling one to a particular life or action.
In the two years of following this governance model, the executive members have grown in the “way of discernment”; a particular way of holding the life and work of the church, asking questions and considering decisions through the lens of God’s gifts and grace.
The rotation of leadership on the Executive is important, and the two-year term for Chair and Communicator is designed to encourage participation, and be a manageable term of service. Terms are not renewable for this reason. However, to facilitate smooth transitions of leadership there is a period of mentoring offered to incoming officers.
As we approach the time for a rotation of leadership on the executive, we invite and encourage a process of personal discernment, a prayerful interior search for the answer to the question of how God might be calling you to serve. Although busy and involved in many important and worthwhile organizations, is it possible that at this time you are being called to step away from some responsibilities in order to serve the church for a term? Or is there someone whose gifts you recognize but who may need your encouragement?
Names for the positions of Chair and Communicator will be brought forward at the Congregational Meeting on November 20th. Membership is necessary for positions on the Executive.
On the position of Communicator for the Executive of the Congregation
Brenda Allen has been the secretary of previous Church Councils for many years and continued on our current Executive. Brenda will continue as our secretary for the Pastoral Charge Council, while her term as Communicator for the Executive of the Congregation of Sackville United Church comes to an end. Brenda offers these reflections of her experience:
Brenda writes: I have really enjoyed the position as Communicator for the last two years. It was a pleasure working with the other Executive members who were always willing to help me out, especially if I was unable to attend one of our meetings. My work is mostly done on computer.
There are two 90-minute monthly meetings, except in the summer. One of the meetings each month is for ‘Grounding’ in which we participate in ways to deepen our own faith and “ground” ourselves in the faith story of our congregation. Our other monthly meeting is our business meeting where I take the minutes and then distribute them via email to the rest of the executive and the presiding minister. I also take minutes when it is necessary to have a congregational meeting.
Presently I maintain the Telephone Tree on computer and add names whenever I see someone new attending our services. The church secretary is very helpful with the Communications part of my position. I also attend a few communications meetings each year and this is also helpful.
If you would like more information about this position, please do not hesitate to contact me, either after a church service or call me at 536-2006 or email me.
On the position of Chair of the Executive of the Congregation:
Marilyn Burrell served on the “Governance Bubble Group”, a group who explored new ways of church governance. Our new governance model emerged out of that exploration; we tested it for one year and decided to continue. Marilyn has served as Chair of the Executive throughout this period.
Marilyn says: “There are so many in our congregation who would bring their own gifts to this position. I know that they would find the experience meaningful and gratifying.”
Marilyn’s reflections on her term as Chair:
Enriching, generous, faithful, encouraging, inspiring, challenging, awesome…are some of the words that come quickly to me as I think back over the almost two years as I have served our congregation as Chair of the Executive. We have learned how to function as a very small executive body, how to hold every discussion up to the lens of our congregational life and seek the path to faithful agreement, and we have grown through grounding ourselves in the narratives of our faith and the stories of our congregational life.
As Chair, it is my responsibility to support the work of all members of the executive, to call meetings, to set the agenda, and to keep us on track. On occasion I have written letters on our behalf, and I coordinate with the church office regarding facility requests. I Chair Congregational Meetings of Sackville United, and I serve as the executive’s representative on the Pastoral Charge Council, which meets quarterly, or when necessary. Most importantly, I try to be available to the congregation to hear their questions or concerns, answering as best I can and following up when necessary.
The position of Chair has never felt like a burden to me. It has been such a positive experience, a privilege to serve the church in this way.