That’ how OUC’s Future Directions team imagines us. And this is what they see: It’s essential to be aware of the deep roots of OUC in United Church history and Christian belief … it’s valuable to notice how strong and sturdy the trunk has grown over 3 decades … it’s helpful to recognize the five main branches of our tree as the main ministry areas of our church – worship, outreach, learning, care, and resources … we would be wise to observe how nutrients, both spiritual and material, flow through the membranes of the wood to feed and grow the whole tree … we’re encouraged as we harvest all the different fruit OUC has produced throughout its life so far. But it’s the leaves that capture our imagination.
The leaves of the tree are our ministry, and the power of our many leaves (think photosynthesis here, with the sun shining on our leaves and generating the energy of life) is remarkable. That’s what’s happening here, every day, within dozens of ministry programs, events, and actions. Our individual “ministry leaves” make the difference. Our ministries contribute to the wholeness of all, both within and beyond our congregation. And through our “ministry leaves,” Orleans United is becoming a tree of life in God’s creation.
Toward a “Branch Model” of Governance
The Future Directions Team has been struck by the strength of so many of our OUC Ministry Teams. Without those leaves, we would not be the vibrant church community that is Orleans United. We want this to continue and do not want to add more work or responsibility to those who are Ministry Team Leaders, or to increase risk of personal burnout. We want to “widen the circle” and “share the load.” We want leaders who are enthusiastic about more grass roots ministry activities throughout the congregation. We want to have an ongoing governing body tasked with guiding the future directions of OUC and recommend that this become an explicit role of a new Council model.
The trunk of our tree is Council, and currently there is a motion at the Annual Congregational Meeting to restructure Council with Members-At-Large to nurture and anchor the many ministry leaves on our tree.
While Ministry Team Leaders will continue to be fully responsible for their Ministry Teams, in the new model they will no longer sit on Council. Instead the newly elected Council Members will be tasked with establishing useful connections with Ministry Teams. We see each new “Member-At-Large” as relating closely with a small portfolio of Ministry Teams (e.g., Elders, Property, Choir), growing relationships with those Team Leaders, supporting their work where needed, while promoting creativity and resiliency within all ministries of the congregation.
The vote on this motion is February 16, 2014, immediately following worship.