Targeted Ministry Program

from Elderberries Fall 2016:

Targeted Ministry Program Offers Opportunities
by Keith Kron and Scott Tayler

How often have we seen a congregation that needs a little extra help? Perhaps they are moving toward their first ministry, or they need sabbatical coverage, or an outside voice during an interim or settled ministry, or perhaps they just need some targeted development. These needs are not new. Yet they remain timely.

Congregations are often faced with the problem of limited resources, which makes the problem of getting the help they need more complicated. I see congregations with negotiated resignations needing to go without a minister for months. I see new ministers get stuck struggling with complex systems questions. Colleagues go on sabbatical but worry that the congregation they serve may destabilize. An interim minister might benefit greatly by having an esteemed colleague repeat, differently, an idea the congregational leadership resists.

All of these situations are examples where a short-term, targeted ministry could benefit the congregation and the ministry with this congregation. UURMaPA and the UUA have joined together to address these situations, creating the Targeted Ministry Program (with the acronym, TMP).

The Targeted Ministry Program will have three purposes:

  1. To support congregational program development, growth, and health
  2. To utilize the expertise of retired ministers
  3. To provide more flexible ministry options for congregations and ministers

The Transitions Office will oversee the process in conjunction with Congregational Life staff. Indeed, a regional staff member is likely to be a key point person to congregations, recommending the program to them and helping them refine what they need from a TMP minister. The Transitions Office will create the application for ministers who wish to apply. Along with the regional staff, we will work for good quality and good matching of ministerial skills and temperament to the congregation and its needs. The Transitions Office and the regional staff will work with the congregations to assure that an appropriate developmental covenant is reached between the TMP minister and the congregation. Congregations will be expected to compensate at the recommended rates set by the UUMA, as well as those recommended by the Office of Church Staff Finances.

UURMaPA has submitted a grant to the UU Funding Panel to help with the cost of training ministers for this new program. Initially, the effort hopes to provide training in conjunction with upcoming UURMaPA gatherings, beginning in the Fall of 2017.

While it’s hard to predict the utilization of this program for our congregations, there is a definite need. And there is a well-remembered positive history of similar efforts from the Minister On Loan program of years ago. When they speak of their ministerial history, many of our congregations don’t remember the name, but they do speak well of the effect of having a minister come visit for a month or two. Colleagues in that program saw the opportunity to utilize their skills and make a real difference in a congregation’s life. And being able to do so on a short term basis had high appeal to ministers.

Our hope is to build well with a small, more intentional start, creating a few success stories that can be widely shared. Regional staff and the Transitions Office will be looking for congregations ready to engage well with this new program, and for ministers ready to engage with them and meet the congregation where they are. Ministers with good skills around non-anxious behavior, fine preaching and pastoral skills, and specific skills around leadership development will be particularly good matches for the program, especially if they bring a positive and hopeful message. Jim Eller and Marni Harmony were instrumental supporters and workers from UURMaPA to get this program going, while Scott Tayler and Keith Kron worked diligently from the UUA’s side in support of the program.

The timeline:

  • September, 2016 Grant application submitted to Funding Panel
  • November, 2016 Funding Panel notifies UURMaPA of decision on application
  • December, 2016 Transitions Office creates and publishes ministerial application for program (Transitions Office website)
  • January, 2017 Regional staff begins to identify congregations in need of program, and creates application and covenantal forms for congregation
  • October, 2017 Training for ministers in program at UURMaPA gathering
  • Fall, 2017 and beyond Program begins.

Additional training for ministers at subsequent UURMaPA gatherings Interested ministers should contact the Transitions Office after the January 1, 2017 at