Area Conference Minister Team Begins Shepherding Responsibilities

Area Conference Minister Team Begins Shepherding Responsibilities

In order to strengthen the ministry and advance the mission of the Southern New England Conference, individual Area Conference Ministers (ACMs) will assume responsibility for shepherding particular areas of the Team’s ministry with local churches and associations. Shepherds will coordinate the development and distribution of resources and coordinate the work of the ACMs in their specific areas of ministry. 

The ACM Team seeks to inspire and provoke local churches and associations to discover how God is calling them to be the church in a new era.  They serve as the face of the vision of the conference to local churches, associations, and covenant partners.  We help churches identify the gifts they can offer to their communities, support local churches in times of transition, and resource and advise Committees on Church and Ministry in the formation and oversight of authorized ministers.  We work cooperatively with other Conference teams to embody the vision of the Southern New England Conference.

In October, 2021, the Southern New England Conference finished staffing the Area Conference Minister Team, which then began an intentional time of discernment regarding how, as a team, they would serve the breadth of our ministry in the SNEUCC. Working with Rev. Dr. Audrey Price, Executive Minister for Strategic Operations, a structure emerged. Focusing on critical missional areas, the ACM Team developed a framework to serve our local churches, associations and covenantal partners more effectively. Moreover, the ACMs took note of the feedback, thoughtful concerns, and innovative insights raised by you and incorporated them to shape our collective ministry going forward. 

Rev. Liz Garrigan-Byerly and Rev. Isaac Lawson are the shepherds for Search and Call and Pastoral Transitions:
Isaac and Liz coordinate the re-visioning and new imagining to strengthen the SNEUCC search and call process, including the development of new resources for search committees and churches in transition and new ways for churches and candidates to get to know one another. They are developing new ways of connecting with interim, designated term, and supply pastors. Additionally, they are working with Rev. James Ross, Minister for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, to ensure that our search and call processes are truly open to all and align with the SNEUCC vision of making God’s love and justice real. The role of the Search and Call Associate is also being re-imagined. This position will be more present with authorized ministers and local churches engaged in the search and call process by providing resources, answering questions, and initiating and monitoring pastoral searches. 

Rev. Dr. Michael Ciba, Rev. Alex Shea Will, and Rev. Liz Garrigan-Byerly are the shepherds for Committees on Church and Ministry [COMs]:
Alex, Liz, and Michael coordinate the development of best practices for our 25 Associations through the COM Steering Committee. They periodically gather COM leaders for training with Conference Staff and the National Setting. They provide staff support to our two Unified Fitness Review Committees. They are coordinating efforts to address concerns of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our authorization processes. They are coordinating the implementation of the 2022 Compensation Guidelines. And they will develop new ways to strengthen connection with Members in Discernment.

Rev. Dr. Patty Kogut and Rev. Alex Shea Will are the Shepherds for Congregational Vitality and Transformation. 
Alex and Patty work with the Center for Transformational Leadership and other Conference Teams to coordinate our efforts in the areas of church renewal and transformation, legacy and threshold churches, and congregational assessment. Working with CTL, they will help churches, pastors, and lay leaders connect with coaches, consultants, and resources. Long-term, they will look at opportunities for evangelism and church growth and the development of new churches and ministries. 

Rev. Terry Yasuko Ogawa is the Shepherd for Professional Development and Ministry.  
Terry coordinates the development of resources and programs for clergy wellness and the Conference’s pastoral counseling and financial assistance programs. She is working to develop new ways for retired clergy to connect and is coordinating Boundary Awareness Training for clergy and lay leaders. She is working with Rev. James Ross, Minister for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and ACM Rev. Isaac Lawson to develop and implement new approaches to Racial Justice/Anti-Racism Training throughout the Conference.

Your Area Conference Minister remains the regional contact for local churches, committees on ministry, and association leaders. We are here to partner in ministry with you as we all serve the mission of the Southern New England Conference.  We ask your continued prayers for the Conference Staff and its ministries.  We also ask for your continuing feedback and are grateful for your participation in the life of the United Church of Christ in all its settings.

May God continue to bless our common ministry.


michael ciba.jpg
Michael J. Ciba

Michael Ciba is the Team Leader and Southwest Area Conference Minister of the Southern New England Conference. He works with CT churches in the Fairfield East, Fairfield West, Litchfield South, Naugatuck Valley, and New Haven  Associations and the ...

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