Have you ever wondered how it is that people are nominated for elected positions at Old First, or are members of Standing Leadership Groups, or on ministry teams? The answer may seem mysterious. Especially when you read the Constitution and By-Laws and there is no specific explanation other than that the Elders appoint a “Discernment Task Group” and that elections are held at our congregation’s annual meeting. Even when we had a much more formal structure, there was something mystical to how someone served on a committee or as an Elder or as the Chair of a Committee.
The purpose of this article is to add some practicalities to this mystery. First, though, we should acknowledge that the Holy Spirit (in all her mystery) is involved in how we are called to serve and in what way, both in the congregation and in life. We often discover the way we are called to serve in conversation with others who are sharing their faith journey with us. Those fellow travelers hear us when we talk about our sense of call, or sense our call as they listen to us talk about our faith journey. Then there is the practical aspect. There are things to be done by and for our congregation and there are people who are called to do these things.
The essentials are contained in the constitute and by-laws of our congregation, our organizational blueprint. The congregation is the body that makes the big decisions. The Elders hold the concerns of the congregation between meetings working with Pastor Michael and the whole congregation. There is a list of their responsibilities in the Constitution. Then, there are Standing Leadership Groups for Worship, Outreach, Community Life, Administration and Christian Education. These are implementation and support teams for the ministries we as a congregation engage in to make sure we act in a manner consistent with our core values and to make sure folks are supported in the ministry in which they are engaged.
Then there are ministry teams, like Church School and Saturday morning breakfast, POWER, and Sacred Conversations on Race, and Choir, Mid-day meeting, and Parents of Young Children Group….all kinds of ministry teams that get together to support the ministry of our congregation in being the presence of Christ’s love in the world. There are so many ways to be involved and ways that we may yet be called to be involved. But the one thing that is true of everyone who is involved is that they have answered a call, either by stepping out and volunteering or saying yes when asked to serve.
So if you are feeling called to serve and are wondering about how to get involved or even to just talk about how to consider how to be involved here is a suggestion. The Elders have asked 6 people to be available to members and associates of Old First to help us explore how we are called to serve. This does not mean that these are the only people who we can explore this with. It is just that these folk have made a yearlong commitment to hold our congregation in prayer and to engage in conversation with members and associates of the congregation to consider how we might each respond to God’s love for us in the things we do for our congregation and for the world we are called to serve.
These people are: Woody Ulmer, Maranda Piccirilli, Joanna Robinson, Susan DeAngelus, Mike Kaib, Ian McCurry. Their contact information can be found on Realm or you can see them at church and get their number.
At the Annual Meeting on January 29, 2017, there will be elections of people who have said yes to a call to serve in an elected role in our congregation with terms limits. But these are not the only roles that need filled. Every Standing Leadership Group needs a team of folks to provide support and guidance. Ministry Teams of our congregation welcome new members to enjoy the joy of serving in their special way. So as you consider how you will honor your commitment to grow in faith in 2017, we invite you to join an SLG or ministry team, or consider preparing to serve as an Elder or in another elected position in 2018 and share your thoughts, questions and concerns with a member of the discernment team.