During the overwhelming, frigid cold last February, God’s vision for my call to ministry finally crystalized in my mind after many months of thinking and praying. Instead of the vision manifesting as a particular job, it appeared as an odd and nerdy constellation of work that included organizational development in the wider church, training and coaching around faith formation and youth ministry, designing communications strategies and, most importantly, creating space for new kinds of church to be born. I try to be faithful to God’s leadings in my life, but my excitement about this new sense of call was tempered by a healthy dose of skepticism. I honestly did not think that all this work could possibly be contained in one job.
You should be very careful about what you pray for. Just as I was thinking and praying and imagining this job (that couldn’t possibly exist in real life), I saw a listing for a new job in the Ohio Conference. I admit that when I first read the position description, I wasn’t sold on it. Still, I was intrigued enough to send in my profile and see what happened. As I interviewed for the first time, listened to the search committee’s questions and heard more about the vision about this new position, I realized that the Holy Spirit just may have given me the job I had been dreaming about. During the course of the interview, Conference Minister Phil Hart said something like, “I really envision this position as a way of modeling to the wider church a new way of doing conference ministry.” At that moment, I was hooked. I was pretty sure I would join the team if they offered.
Now, about three months into my position as your Ohio Conference Minister for Resourcing, Networking and Creativity, I have had the opportunity to visit with some church leaders and have (understandably) received both excited and perplexed looks when I carefully enunciate my title.
The reality is that I embody a new way to do conference ministry which is neither settled nor entirely clear. God is doing an exciting Holy Experiment through this ministry in Ohio. We want to inspire innovative ministries in our local churches and get you the resources you need to implement them. We want to build collegial networks that help you learn from your peers in other churches. We want to develop online connections that not only bring you together with other local churches in Ohio and the United Church of Christ, but to bring you into contact with ideas from all kinds of innovative leaders. We want to build community in and among our churches so that you can know and rely on each other for inspiration and support.
As you may have noticed the first step we’ve taken to live into this Holy Experiment was to improve our communications with you. Here are the core values that are guiding our communications strategy:
Clarity. We commit to creating clearly written and designed email and online communications that making information about conference news, events and resources easily and readily available. Local church leaders commit to encouraging members of their congregations to connect with these information outlets and keep conference staff up-to-date on their email addresses and other contact information.
Consistency. We commit to offer news updates regularly through our Connections (first Tuesday of each month) and Spotlight (third Tuesday) eNewsletters as well as through occasional emails and posts about important news as the need arises. Local church leaders commit to checking and reading these emails and posts to stay connected to news, events and happenings in the wider church.
Collaboration. We commit to creating space for local churches to connect to one another through video conferences and in-person gatherings, social media groups, feeds and pages that allow for sharing resources and ideas. Local church leaders commit to attending events and connecting with these media outlets and offer their time, energy and resources to these groups.
You may have also checked our new website: www.ohioucc.org. Although this website is still a work in progress (Our old website www.ocucc.org is still up and running until we migrate all the important data), there are several key components that you can access right from the front page of the site including:
Speaking of social media, some of you have already noticed (and are following and liking) our latest communications tools. Please continue to encourage people in your local churches to connect on these online platforms so that they can stay connected to your conference staff and other churches on a daily basis.
Ohio Conference UCC — A source for keeping you abreast of conference and wider denominational news, connections to conference events, UCC resources, etc.
Holy Experiments — A broader conversation that brings together the church with innovative and creative ideas from other industries and disciplines.
@ohioucc — A source for keeping you abreast of conference and wider denominational news, connections to conference events, UCC resources, etc.
@holyexperiments — A broader conversation that brings together the church with innovative and creative ideas from other industries and disciplines.
@holyexperiments — Photos of inspiring and innovative ministries happening in Ohio and throughout the United Church of Christ.
Holy Experiments — A source for links to our favorite resources to support YOUR local church ministries.
As I often say when I visit churches on Sunday mornings, I know that churches can do good ministry in our own communities by ourselves, but we are MUCH better when we do that ministry together — in our state, our country and around the world. So please join our Holy Experiment movement as we learn together to become the church our grandchildren will be excited to inherit.
– Rev. Nicole Havelka,
Minister for Resourcing, Networking and Creativity