The “Point Elder” Initiative:
Your feedback is requested
During the 2017 Listening Tour, we found many people voicing a yearning to be better connected with MCC. We have heard you and we understand that in order to feel spiritually supported and to access the denomination’s resources, many churches and ministry leaders feel the need for a single point of contact. As a result, the Elders have been working on an initiative, which we are referring to as “Point Elder”, to address the need for supportive connection and to assist in navigating the denomination’s resources.
The Council of Elders (COE) is tasked by the General Conference to serve in a pastoral role and direct the spiritual life of the Fellowship (see UFMCC Bylaws, Art. 5.E.3. for more details). All the Elders have expressed a desire to support MCC’s churches and ministry leaders, but have admitted it’s difficult to know where to start. We want to ensure that there is a process that works for everyone in the simplest and most effective way possible. Recently we asked for feedback on this initiative from a number of pastors of various size churches. Now we would like to have broader feedback to incorporate into this initiative before it is fully implemented.
What is a “Point Elder”?
The “Point Elder” initiative acknowledges that it would be good if each of the Elders had an ongoing personal pastoral relationship with specific groups of churches and ministry leaders. Where this kind of relationship already exists informally, church and lay leaders report a feeling of connection with the denomination.
We envisage the Point Elder’s role to be three-fold. First, the Elder is available to hear spiritual concerns and offer pastoral care. The Elder could also bring prayer concerns and praises to the COE monthly meetings, if permission is given, in order to receive prayers from the entire COE. Second, the Elder can be present, (when invited and it is feasible), to help celebrate significant congregational milestones. Third, the Elder could recommend or make a referral (when you feel you need or want one), to MCC denominational staff, the Governing Board, or other appropriate resources.
Of course, Elders don’t have any administrative authority on matters of governance, polity, licensing, or status within MCC. It’s also not our job to intervene or resolve conflicts within a congregation. However, a Point Elder would be a useful first contact when a congregation needs pastoral connection and prayer, or when a referral is requested. We may know how to access useful resources that you may not have even realized were there for you.
To begin this process of connecting Elders with churches, the Elders recognized there were long-standing relationships between congregations and Elders, which we wanted to ensure were honored. In addition, we adjusted the pairings to equalize the number of congregations each Elder will serve and make sure that each clergy person or elected lay leader, who is not associated with a congregation, also has a Point Elder with whom they connect. Of course, we want to make sure there is good pastoral support, prayer and an ongoing sense of community and connection with our congregations, so there needs to be a good fit between that congregation, its clergy and lay leaders, or between the Point Elder and the clergy person who is not serving in a church setting. Consequently, we anticipate there may be some adjustments if another Elder would be better suited as the Point Elder once the pairing of churches, clergy, lay pastors and lay leaders is announced. If another Elder would be a better fit, then the clergy person or the lay leader (generally the Vice-Moderator) can contact the Convener of the Council of Elders at [email protected]
If you have any feedback about the “Point Elder” initiative, please send your feedback to [email protected] by 19 January 2018.