What is the Committee on Shared Ministry?

The Committee on Shared Ministry (CoSM) is a committee of the Board of Trustees comprised of five members of the congregation and the settled minister(s). The CoSM is appointed by the Board of Trustees to nurture the mission and ministry of this congregation.

Contacting the CoSM members

If a member of the congregation has a concern about the health and well-being of our beloved community, they are always invited to bring that concern to a member of the CoSM. Each of us welcomes phone calls, a conversation at church on Sunday, or emails sent to sharedministry@uuoakland.org.

Policies of the Committeee on Shared Ministry
Charter of the Committeee on Shared Ministry

Charter of the Committee on Shared Ministry

Our Mission

We, the members of the First Unitarian Church of Oakland, unite to build a beloved community within and beyond our walls. Guided by individual conscience and wisdom from many sources, we gather in worship and service to nourish the spirit, work for justice, and celebrate the divine in all.
Our Ends Statements

The First Unitarian Church of Oakland embodies beloved community as an intentionally multigenerational, multiracial, multicultural, anti-oppressive Unitarian Universalist religious community. We work for spiritual and social transformation within, among, and beyond ourselves in support of our vision, mission, and ends.
Transformation Within Church members and friends discover and articulate personal spiritual growth.  We lead lives of integrity and meaning that reflect our spiritual identity and values.
Transformation Among People of all ages who are part of our church community experience caring relationships which connect us to an ever wider circle of life. We use our collective gifts and learning to nurture and expand beloved community. We overcome barriers that divide the human family.
Transformation Beyond Our neighborhood, the city of Oakland, and the world community are more just and compassionate because of our prophetic role and ministries. We generously share our human and financial resources beyond the walls of our church.

The Committee on Shared Ministry is appointed by the Board of Trustees to nurture the mission and ministry of this congregation. It embodies shared ministry, in concert with our settled ministers, and represents the congregation in matters of ministry and congregational polity. It serves to strengthen the understanding of the practice of ministry in the congregation. It is the primary structure within the church for demonstrating the power of mutual trust and for modeling redemption, reconciliation and healing. In light of the mission of the church, the Committee on Shared Ministry will:

Overall Ministry:

  • Make recommendations whenever and wherever it deems necessary for the benefit of the ministry and the mission of the church.  The recommendations may be to convey emergent needs to other parties or to suggest means to resolve identified problems.  To these ends, the committee:
  • Serves as a forum to discuss the quality, directions and long-term vision of our ministry.
  • Provides a conduit through which ministers and congregants may privately make known any ideas or concerns about the ministry of the church and works with the ministers and other committees to facilitate solutions to identified problems.
  • Solicits ideas and listens for concerns as its members participate in the life of the congregation
  • Conducts leadership evaluation of settled ministers at least every three years makes formal presentation of findings and recommendations to the ministers and the Board.
  • Work to assure continuity of ministry during periods of sabbatical leaves, illness and transition of ministers.

Settled Ministers:

  • Care for the relationship between the ministers and the church.
  • Support clergy in modeling collegial relationships within their  ministerial team in a way that respects their differences and maintains the integrity of their individual roles.
  • Provide the ministers the support of lay colleagues.
  • Work with ministers to create and implement professional development plans.
  • Review Letters of Agreement at least every five years and makes recommendations for modifications and renewal to the Board of Trustees.
  • Make recommendations to the Board regarding the ministers’ compensation.

Hired Ministers:

  • Support clergy in modeling collegial relationships within their  ministerial team in a way that respects their differences and maintains the integrity of their individual roles.
  • Work with hired ministers for preliminary fellowship reviews and navigating the credentialing process toward final fellowship.
  • Care for the relationship between the ministers and the church.
  • Provide the ministers the support of lay colleagues.

Congregational Education and Training:

  • Sponsor fora and workshops for the congregation to further their understanding of Unitarian Universalist ministry and create opportunities for congregational conversations on ministry.
  • Respond to needs for conflict/grievance management and advises concerning the conflict for the best possible result.  The committee plays a facilitative role where appropriate; however, the responsibility for conflict resolution rests with the individuals involved.

Pastoral Associate and Chaplains:

  • Support the Pastoral Associates and Chaplaincy programs as requested by the coordinators or settled ministers.

Ministerial Education and Training:

  • Review credentials and make recommendations to the Board of Trustees for congregational sponsorship of students for ministerial education and advancement to ministry.
  • Review credentials and make recommendations to the Board for ordination to ministry.
  • Fulfill the congregational responsibilities required by the Unitarian Universalist Association of a teaching church and foster the development of ministerial interns.
  • Respond on behalf of the congregation to the UUA and its Pacific Central District regarding matters of ministry.

Community Ministry:

  • Review applications from ministers wishing to affiliate with the congregation as community ministers and makes recommendations to the Board of Trustees.
  • Oversee the appointment and functioning of the Community Ministry Support Committee.
  • Approve the Affiliation Covenant of community ministers.
  • Meet annually with the affiliated community minister to review the ministerial working relationship and how the affiliated community ministry is affecting the life of the church.
  • Review applications from ministers seeking endorsement as a community minister and makes recommendations to the Board of Trustees.
Beyond this charter, the CoSM covenants to:
  • To place the mission and ends of this church and the well-being of our congregation ahead of personal interests and biases.
  • To strive for redemption and reconciliation in matters where there is conflict or dispute.
  • To work to facilitate resolution without feeling responsible for what happens.
  • To respect the confidentiality of matters brought before the committee and of people involved.
  • To speak with passion and compassion within the committee, and with one voice outside of the committee.
  • To acknowledge that the committee’s only authority is that which is granted it by the members of the congregation, and to work to build and nurture that sacred trust.

 

Membership of the Committee on Shared Ministry

The CoSM is comprised of five members of the congregation appointed by the Board for staggered terms of three years. Any member of the congregation in good standing is eligible, except for Board members. Committee members are discouraged from holding other leadership positions while serving. Members serve for two, three-year terms. New members are appointed by the Board of Trustees from a list submitted to them by the committee and the ministers. Terms ideally begin in January so that new members can attend the Leadership Retreat.

The settled ministers actively join in the work and the meetings of the committee, but are not members of the committee for voting purposes. Other ministers who may be affiliated with the church but who are not settled here do not participate.

How is the Chair of the Committee chosen?

The chair is chosen by the members of the committee.

When and how often does the CoSM meet?

The CoSM typically meets monthly from September through June. Special meetings may be called by the Chair and/or the ministers. No meeting shall be held without advising the ministers, and if a meeting is held at which a minister is not present, the Chair or a designee will meet with the minister as soon as possible to discuss the substance of that meeting.

Who attends CoSM meetings? Are they open?

Meetings are attended by the members of the CoSM and the settled minister(s). As the Committee on Shared Ministry is the place in our church structure where some of our most delicate issues are raised, and where conflicts between church members are often brought and resolved, CoSM meetings are not open, and all discussions are confidential, in order to encourage frankness and trust.

The Coordinator of Pastoral Associates or the Chaplains may attend meetings as needed to report to the Committee or to address specific issues, and a Board liaison may attend the meetings as needed to address specific issues.

Since the CoSM is a committee of the Board, how does it stay connected and report to the Board?

The Chair or a designee makes a report to the Board of Trustees at least once a year. This report may be written or given at a Board meeting. The purpose is to keep the Board informed of the work of the Committee. The CoSM may join the Board at other times at either the request of the CoSM or of the Board of Trustees. The CoSM also produces an annual report for inclusion in the Report to the Congregation at its annual meeting each March.

How does the CoSM reach decisions?

The committee typically makes decisions by consensus, but recognizes that reaching consensus is not always possible or desirable. On extraordinarily rare occasions the CoSM might find it necessary to take a vote and in some cases, the Chair, after consultation with the committee and the ministers, may have to take responsibility for decisions made in the best interests of the ministry of the church.

How does the CoSM approach its charge to “nurture the mission and ministry of this congregation”?

The committee frames the issues and problems that it considers in terms of how it affects the ministry of the church. The Committee receives issues referred from many sources, including church members, the ministers, Committee members, the Board and church leadership, and the Executive and Coordinating Team. Any matter brought to the Committee must be specific in nature and may not be made anonymously.

Is there a record of CoSM meetings?

The proceedings of the committee are confidential. The meeting agendas and notes are kept by the Chair in the committee archives to maintain the historical record. The complete record of the committee’s work is kept by the Chair, and these remain confidential.

What is the best way to contact the CoSM?

If a member of the congregation has a concern about the health and well-being of our beloved community, they are always invited to bring that concern to a member of the CoSM. Each of us welcomes phone calls, a conversation at church on Sunday, or emails sent to sharedministry@uuoakland.org.