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Freedom of Religious Thought

Committee on Shared Ministry

Unitarian Congregation of Saskatoon

Terms of Reference — Committee on Shared Ministry[1]

UCS Cmte on Shared Ministry TOR 7May11 pdf

  1. I. Preamble

The Unitarian Congregation of Saskatoon is inspired by our Unitarian Universalist principles and sources, and works to manifest those principles within our congregational community, in Saskatoon and the world at large. We affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person; diversity in thought and practice; the gifts and responsibilities created by our interdependent world community; the right to a free and responsible search for truth and meaning. We are guided by our congregational mission and the covenant of right relations in all activities we do.

Ministry is the act of serving fellow human beings. Shared ministry, put simply, then is the collective act of serving each others’ and the congregation’s needs. Together, professional minister, staff, lay members and friends craft services, educational opportunities, projects, social events and systems in order to meet our collective and individual needs. All of these things together constitute our “shared ministry”.

  1. II. Purpose

The purpose of the “Committee on Shared Ministry” is to strengthen the quality of shared ministry within the Unitarian Congregation of Saskatoon. To this end, the committee will regularly reflect on the ministries of the congregation, with a view to identifying strengths and challenges, encouraging attention to areas of opportunity, and supporting the healthy progress of congregationally driven direction to achieve its mission. The committee will promote and facilitate realization of the covenant of right relations including healthy communication between and among any combination of congregation members & friends, lay leadership, staff and the professional minister. It will also assist with planning as it relates to the congregation’s work, the minister’s work and the minister’s professional development.

III. COSM Make up

  • The Committee on Shared Ministry is comprised of at least three members of the congregation (see Recommendations regarding committee membership below), none of whom concurrently serves on the Board of Trustees.
  • The members of the committee will be nominated jointly by the minister and the Board and elected by the congregation for a 3-year term (staggered).
  • The committee will communicate with the Board through the Board Liaison.

IV. Roles and Responsibilities

  1. Shared Ministry
  1. The COSM meets monthly, or as needed, with the professional minister to discuss various aspects of congregational health and well-being, with the main thrust being to strengthen the shared ministry at the UCS.
  1. The COSM will educate themselves and be aware of all congregational policies and practices. To this end, the congregational policy manual will be a valuable resource.
  1. The COSM communicates with the congregation the nature, scope and parameters of the professional minister’s work, including clarification of roles and responsibilities of the minister and of the congregation, reviews priorities and goals, and achievement of them.
  1. The COSM recognizes rights of professional ministry[2] and shared roles in worship and church activities; encourages shared planning and visioning. The COSM covenants to support the shared ministry at the UCS, recognizing the roles of professional minister, staff and the ministry of all congregants.
  1. The COSM manages a periodic review of the shared ministry and communicates the results to the Board and the congregation.
  1. Minister’s Professional Development, Goal Setting and Achievement
  1. The COSM consults with the professional minister on continuing education plans, sabbatical plans and other professional development.
  1. The COSM reviews the minister’s contract and covenant periodically and provides input to the Board of Trustees regarding any adjustments necessary to the contract, as appropriate.
  1. Right Relations, Values and Processes
  1. One role of the COSM is to help and encourage the congregation to use healthy ways of resolving conflicts. To this end, the UCS’s Covenant of Right Relations is an invaluable resource. It is not the role of the COSM to fix problems for individuals but rather to facilitate healthy communication and the practice of right relations.
  1. Generally speaking, it is the expectation that information shared with one member of the COSM will be shared in confidence with other members of the COSM.
  1. COSM meetings are held in the context of confidentiality and mutual honesty; they are private, but not secretive. Meetings are closed to visitors, except by invitation from the committee and the minister.
  1. The COSM always meets with the minister present – except on occasions when arranged by mutual advance agreement between the committee and the minister. On such occasions, the committee’s assessment would be shared with the minister immediately following the meeting.
  1. The COSM responds in a timely manner to any conflicts, expressed attitudes, or real activities that might have an adverse effect on the congregation’s shared ministry.
  1. The COSM consults directly with the Board of Trustees on any issues or conflicts that are beyond the committee’s mandate.
  1. The COSM prepares shared ministry-related articles for the newsletter, brochures and the website, as appropriate.

V. Reporting

1.  The COSM maintains core minutes of meetings held and regularly reports activities to the Board of Trustees (through the Board Liaison), including any changes in committee policy, new directions and initiatives that affect other committees.

2.  The COSM prepares a report for the Annual General Meeting and periodic reports, as needed, to the Board of Trustees.

Recommendations regarding committee membership

  • An overarching commitment to the congregation’s mission above all other agenda.
  • An ability to see past the part to account for the whole.
  • Capacity to keep confidences.
  • Personal integrity. The ability to be caring while being honest and straightforward.
  • The ability to listen.
  • A willingness to make tough decisions.
  • Members who are highly regarded by the congregation.
  • Diversity of representation (age, gender, experience and perspectives).
  • A minimum of three years of evidenced committed membership as a Unitarian Universalist.

Version: 7May2011


[1] In the interest of not ‘reinventing the wheel’ and acknowledging much good work previously done by others, this document is heavily indebted toEdmonton Westwood Congregation’s COSM Terms of Reference, September 2008; and the Canadian Unitarian Council Shared Ministry Task Force Final Report, May 2005.)

[2] By this we mean rights, responsibilities and privileges associated with an ordained professional minister such as freedom of pulpit and others as outlined in the UU Ministers Association Guidelines for the Conduct of Ministry.