By Kris Lofrumento
Administrator of the Pastoral Excellence Program,
Program Coordinator for Youth and Young Adult Ministry
Community…”1. a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage. 2. a locality inhabited by such a group.
3. a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists (usually preceded by the ): the business community; the community of scholars. (Dictionary.com)
The Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ is a community unto itself. It is also made up of the various communities (towns, cities, villages) within the Commonwealth as well as the local churches and other settings of ministry which are within the denomination and through engagements with ecumenical and secular partners. All of these groups are communities. Each of our local churches have similarities, but they also have unique characteristics which create the faith community they are, in the place they are located. For the past 8 years the Pastoral Excellence Program has helped create communities as well.
Through New Clergy Groups, Clergy Communities of Practice, and colloquies groups of clergy and lay leaders have met together often over a sustained period of time (CCOPs and NCGs), but sometimes for just a day or two (colloquies) and formed communities. Building relationships with each other, sharing stories and experiences, giving testimonies, listening, really listening to one another, and being present through the good times and the bad. Ministry can be lonely. Ministry can be isolating. Ministry is also relational and life-giving. Ministry is about creating communities for others and making sure you have your own. Ministry is having colleagues to share stories with, to learn from, and to grow. No community is perfect – where’s the fun in that?! But, intentionality, a welcoming, hospitable environment, and the commitment of colleagues to learn from and be part of a community…that is life-giving.
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