A Message from Jim Antal on the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Campaign


I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth….
Isaiah 43:19

Jim AntalExcellent Churches Need Excellent Pastors

A Message from Massachusetts Conference Minister and President Jim Antal

"Raise your hand if you want your pastor to be excellent."

That's easy!  We all raise our hands! Of course we want our pastor to be excellent.

The Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ is now a nationally recognized leader in nurturing pastoral excellence. In our grant request to Lilly Endowment, Inc., we asked them to invest in our hunch that excellent pastors are indispensable for creating excellent churches. Since receiving that initial major grant in 2002, Lilly has renewed funding for this project. Why? Because the Massachusetts Conference has shown that it’s true – excellent pastors are indispensable for creating excellent churches.

Now well over half our pastors who serve churches – and nearly 100% of our newly ordained clergy – are participating in clergy groups we call Communities of Practice. By sharing their wisdom, experience, struggles and plans, they form a circle of accountability that enhances their effectiveness and deepens their faithfulness. The benefits of these discussions are then lived out in hundreds of our congregations. Indeed, the Pastoral Excellence Program has changed the culture of ministry in the Massachusetts Conference.

Having created such a successful program, we want to make certain that it will continue to anchor ministry in Massachusetts for generations to come. By contributing to the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Endowment Campaign, your congregation can help to ensure that the UCC in Massachusetts will have the best possible pastoral leadership. Join other congregations who will make a pledge of support, payable over three to five years. Or take up a special offering for this Campaign over each of the next five years. Or if your congregation is planning your own capital campaign, commit a percentage of what you raise to this important ministry in a wrap-around campaign.

We are also asking individual UCC members to make a gift to this campaign. As I travel throughout the Commonwealth, I have heard again and again how much you appreciate the leadership your pastor offers your congregation. This is your opportunity to join with thousands of other UCC members in Massachusetts to ensure that our congregations will be served by excellent leaders well into the future.

As we celebrate the accomplishments, the testimony and the promise, I hope you will join me in making a financial investment that will ensure excellent ministry in the UCC throughout Massachusetts for years to come.