Rev. Jan Gregory-Charpentier didn’t need to be talked into joining one of the Massachusett Conference, United Church of Christ’s Clergy Community of Practice groups. “I was one of the early adopters of the initiative,” Gregory-Charpentier said, “probably 6 or 7 years ago. I was involved for three years, the period of our initial covenant. Then I was asked to facilitate a new clergy community of practice, for another three years." The benefits of her involvement, says the Rev. Gregory-Charpentier, “have been many.” She went to the Duke School of Theology through the MACUCC’s support and participated in a program called Foundations of Christian Leadership. She was also involved with at least two or three other church members in colloquies. And, Gregory-Charpentier notes, the MACUCC “was gracious enough to offer some financial support through the Pastoral Excellence Program for a retreat for clergywomen. These have been wonderful experiences of community, collegiality, learning, support.”
Gregory-Charpentier said that she was about five or six years into her ministry at the United Parish of Upton when she first joined a Clergy Community of Practice, and “it came at a great time for me, to see me through some ups and downs in my own parish ministry. Gaining the wisdom of the group, and the prayer and emotional support, really made me feel that it was a wonderful emotional foundation on which to practice ministry. It reduced that sense of isolation that is so prevalent in parish ministry.”
Rev. Gregory-Charpentier says that her church has benefitted in that the Pastoral Excellence Program has “allowed me to be a better pastor through some challenging dynamics at the church. It is hard to point out the glories of sustaining a ministry,” she said, “but it kept me functioning with my head above water during some pretty turbulent situations.”
"A church is only as healthy as its pastor," Gregory-Charpentier says. “You can have a pastor that burns out and flounders, and the church can recover, but the overall effectiveness and health of a church is dramatically increased and influenced in proportion to the health, effectiveness and faithfulness of its pastor and lay leadership." Rev. Gregory-Charpentier said that she believes that the Pastoral Excellence Program has “changed the culture of ministry in our Conference,” and that when her lay leadership team heard about the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Endowment Campaign, a decision was made to bring a request for support to the congregation. “We made a motion to support this program at $10,000 for five years. There was discussion, [but] there was overwhelming support for the motion. We are building for the future.”
Jan Gregory-Charpentier sees a bright future for the MACUCC with the support of the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Endowment Campaign. “I hope that we will see a continuation of the Clergy Community of Practice program, for both seasoned and new clergy. That professional and personal covenant [made in these groups] and the support that clergy experience through these programs is just huge, and it filters into changing the whole nature of ministry and therefore, the life and the spirit of the churches."
“I have made my own personal pledge to this campaign,” Rev. Gregory-Charpentier said. “I was asked to, and I wanted to. I feel a sense of welcome obligation for being the recipient of so many blessings from this program, and can only hope that others will be similarly moved.”
You can join other pastors and congregations by making a pledge of support, payable over three to five years, or taking a special offering for this Campaign over each of the next five years. Find out more about this important program: Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Endowment Campaign.
You can also contact MACUCC Associate Conference Minister for Stewardship and Financial Development Andrew Gustafson: (508) 875-5233, ext.231 (email: email@example.com), or Associate Conference Minister for Leadership Development Sue Dickerman: (508) 875-5233, ext.233 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).