Dear St. Paul’s family,
In one of my letters last summer I mentioned that we use a Mutual Ministry Agreement (MMA) as one of the tools to provide myself and Chapter with goals each year. We are currently in the process of conducting a Mutual Ministry Review, looking at the goals set in the last MMA and setting new ones appropriate to where we are now. For about the last 20 years the Episcopal Church has strongly encouraged clergy and vestries (or Chapter, in our case) to establish MMA’s based on the original Letter of Agreement between the priest and the Chapter at the beginning of the priest’s tenure. We are expected to review and update the agreement annually, and periodically to engage a professional outside facilitator to moderate the conversation. The idea is that we set expectations and review them, celebrating achievements, and addressing misunderstandings and disappointments as a matter of course, rather than doing nothing until there is a conflict or a crisis.
The current MMA addresses eight areas of ministry: Liturgical leadership; Christian formation; Pastoral support, prayer, and care; Stewardship and financial leadership; Personal spiritual growth and education; Administration and governance; Congregational development; and Diocesan and community involvement. The expectations of me include both ongoing tasks such as preaching and presiding and specific goals such as developing a balanced budget after several years of needing to plug a large deficit. Expectations of Chapter similarly can be either ongoing, such as striving to tithe or discerning decisions within a theological framework, or one-time efforts such as revising the bylaws to reflect spiritual leadership. An important note is that Chapter is elected to make commitments on behalf of the congregation, and some of the MMA expectations apply equally to all parishioners, with the leadership of Chapter; for example, seeking out opportunities for personal spiritual growth and theological education.
Significant accomplishments since the last MMA was finalized in June 2018 include instituting weekly letters (such as this one), executing a plan to right-size the budget, and implementing a policy of assigning 5% of undesignated cash bequests for Diocesan ministries. Goals “we have left undone” include developing the Saturday evening service as an alternative worship offering (this has been replaced by the Doxology Life initiative), and continuing to implement the Vision for Mission strategic plan (which has become obsolete over time). I also failed in a personal goal of taking an overnight personal spiritual retreat. The most exciting goal proposed for the coming year, from a personal viewpoint, is my hope to take some accrued sabbatical leave and attend a month-long Spanish immersion course in Latin America, with an accompanying goal for Chapter to find funding for such a time of leave.
Those who attended the recent Community Life Council received copies of the draft MMA that we are currently revising. I am happy to send it to anyone else who is interested and would like to offer constructive feedback. Chapter has appointed a task force to update the MMA. It consists of Marshall Moore, Donna Perdue, Jairus Kleinert, and Jerry Motto. Together we have deep and rich conversations about the ministry we share. It is a healthy process and one that brings us closer together. I am very grateful for the opportunity to reflect and review in this way.
Your sister in Christ,