December 16 -Transition Team Update:  Critical Conversations:  Leadership, Governance and Ministry Workshop

How do we give people more opportunities for ministry, to be touched and changed by their involvement in the church without hours of meetings?  How do we organize ourselves to enact a new vision for the future and not just reproduce the past?  These are some of the questions that were addressed by the workshop “Critical Conversations:  Leadership, Governance and Ministry”facilitated Nov. 5 by Dan Hotchkiss at Highlands United Church in North Vancouver. Leadership and Transition Team members from First Met, including Ivy Thomas, Liane Clark, David Bray, Edeana Malcolm, Irene Baddeley, Marion Denton, Kathy Cook and Janet Gray attended to learn new perspectives on how to organize our church governance to produce effective, forward-looking and collaborative leadership and decision making.

The group has come back with many ideas of how church boards (Council) can be restructured to improve information sharing, better share the workload and focus on decision making and reflecting on the future purpose of the church. The Transition Team and Council will be discussing possible changes that will streamline decision-making and meetings and free up volunteers to serve the ministries they are called to. “People do not join a church to be recruited into meetings!”<
For more information about Dan Hotchkiss and his work, see his book “Governance and Ministry:  Rethinking Board Leadership” (2016).

December 9 – Transition Team Report

Within the United Church and BC Conference there are discussions about healthy workplaces and mandatory training. BC Labour law legislation states that all workplaces have training in the respectful workplace model. From these directives, the Transition Team arranged for a training on healthy workplaces to be provided specifically for First Met church staff and congregational leadership. This training was held on Nov. 8th with staff and several congregational leaders in attendance. From the information provided during this workshop, First Met will be reviewing our existing policies and updating them accordingly. These policies will be made available to all members of the congregation.

October 23 – Transition Team Report

– prepared by Tom Attig, Chair

This is the first of a series of reports to the congregation about the Interim Ministry and the work of the Transition Team. We will publish reports approximately every two weeks for the duration of the Interim Ministry (available at Sunday services, via email, and on the First Met web site). We do so to keep the congregation informed about our work and, most importantly, engaged in the ongoing discussions that will be vital to success in the Interim Ministry period.

In this first report, I provide basic information about the nature of interim ministry, explain the decision to hire an Interim Minister, report on the work of the Transition Team to date, tell you of the Goals of the Interim Ministry recently adopted by Council, and report on Ivy Thomas’s plans to come to know personally and be known by as many members of the congregation as possible as soon as possible.

The Nature of Interim Ministry in the United Church

The United Church of Canada’s Interim Ministry Policy and Procedures Handbook (you can Google it and read far more about it for yourself), tell us that, “Interim Ministry is for congregations that see that some change in their congregational life is necessary to meet the challenges they are facing. Congregations that undertake a period of Interim Ministry will, as a community of God’s people, end their journey changed in some way. Interim Ministry is a way for a congregation to take an intentional “time out” to seek renewal and make a significant change in its organizational structure, its mission, or its pastoral life.” You will see in the statement of the Goals for Interim Ministry at First Met below, there is potential for progress toward renewal or significant change in all three of these areas in our church community.

How We Came to Have an Interim Ministry at First Met

The handbook on Interim Ministry also tells us that, “Presbytery, in consultation with the official board (or equivalent), decides when an Interim Ministry will take place in a congregation and what issues will be given priority.” When Council met last spring to receive a report and recommendation from the Lead Minister Review Committee for hiring Allan Saunders’ successor, two members of Conference (Treena Duncan and Thom Dennett) were in attendance. They strongly recommended to Council that instead of hiring a “supply” minister to hold Allan’s place temporarily until a permanent successor could be found, First Met’s needs were such that we should seek an Interim Minister to help us through the complex transition challenges ahead, including saying good-bye to four ministerial figures retiring in rapid succession and addressing the concerns reflected in the Goals for our Interim Ministry (below). Council voted without dissent to accept the recommendation of the Conference representatives. With formal approval from Conference, Ivy Thomas was called in July to begin serving First Met on September 1. In Ivy we found an experienced parish minister, veteran of years at the Conference level in service to congregations in transition, and someone specially trained in facilitating and enabling change; restorative justice – resolving conflicts and healing old issues; and being a listener, consultant, and teacher.

 The Work of the Transition Team to Date

The Transition Team met in the late summer and early fall to organize ourselves and anticipate Ivy’s arrival. We came to understand our charge to be to a) work closely with Ivy, support her ministry, and supervise and guide her efforts, b) work with her to bring concerns and recommendations for action to Council, and c) work with all church leaders and members to address the goals for the interim ministry as developed by the Transition Team in consultation with and with the approval of Council.

More recently we met and became better acquainted with Ivy, shared our perspectives on challenges and opportunities at First Met, selected Tom Attig as team Chair, planned Ivy’s covenanting service on October 16, planned a Respectful Workplace Workshop for church staff and leadership on November 8, and invited members of both the Transition Team and Council to attend a workshop on congregational governance, being hosted at Highlands United in North Vancouver (six or our congregation will be attending). We then drafted the following goals for the interim ministry period and secured Council approval for them (understanding that they are not cast in stone but are subject to future discussion and possible amendment by Council).

Goals for the Interim Ministry (adopted by Council, October 17, 2016
  1. Engage in congregation-wide discussion of a) core values and beliefs and b) what ministry(ies) God is calling First Met to live out in the coming years.
  2. Review our governance structures in terms of a) changes in national church policy and b) what model is needed to live out the ministries of First Met, and c) how best to address the leadership crisis within the congregation.
  3. Engage with the redevelopment committee in considering redevelopment options and possibilities to optimize effective response to the call of the church.
  4. Formally engage with the congregation to identify communication challenges and address them through means appropriate to the challenges.
  5. In consultation with the ministerial staff, evaluate ministerial roles and determine the best model for addressing the needs of the congregation and its ministries.
  6. Review non-ministerial staffing needs.
  7. Help to initiate stewardship renewal that fits with the ministries of the congregation.
Plans for Meetings with Ivy

Ivy is eager to meet personally with and get to know and become better known by as many members of the congregation as possible between now and the end of January. She believes that this can be greatly facilitated by meeting with groups of six to eight at a time in informal settings either in members’ homes or at the church (depending on which works best for particular groups). She hopes to meet with two or three such groups nearly every week in the coming months, with the first three meetings already scheduled for the coming week. The Transition Team has already arranged with some members to host such meetings. If you are interested in hosting or attending a gathering, there is a sign-up sheet in the office, listing available dates and times.