By Tiffany Vail
Associate for Communication
After 26 years of service, Associate Conference Minister Susan Dickerman is leaving the Massachusetts Conference staff to bring the acclaimed Pastoral Excellence Program she has spearheaded to more Conferences across the United Church of Christ.
Dickerman will stay on staff until the end of 2012. She will remain in her home in Massachusetts, working out of a home office on the Lilly Endowment-funded expansion of the Pastoral Excellence Program. Working in conjunction with UCC Local Church Ministries, Dickerman has already established clergy communities of practice in four Conferences and will be expanding that to 20 Conferences moving forward.
“Sue is going to use her gifts and vision to spread this new way of doing ministry throughout the United Church of Christ,” Minister and President Jim Antal said.
As a result of Dickerman’s departure, the Massachusetts Conference is launching a search for one or two new part-time Associate Conference Ministers to support both clergy and lay development. Depending on the gifts of the applicants, there will be either a 2/3-time Associate Conference Minister for Clergy and Lay Development or those responsibilities will be split between two 1/3-time ACMs.
“In only 10 years, the Massachusetts Conference UCC has changed the culture of ministry with its Pastoral Excellence Program,” Antal said. “This new position will deepen the impact of the PEP as well as use the lessons and models from that work to have a similar impact on lay leadership development in our congregations.”
A search committee to fill this new position or positions is now being formed. Those interested in being considered are urged to fill out the online interest form at macucc.org/ACMsearch
by Oct. 19th
In the meantime, plans are in the works to hold a celebration of Dickerman’s long ministry with the Conference during the 214th Annual Meeting, June 14 – 15, 2013, at the Sturbridge Host Hotel & Conference Center.
It is perhaps a fitting place to mark the end of Dickerman’s time with the Conference, as working with the Annual Meeting worship planning committee was her first role when she joined the Conference staff in 1986. She organized the worship and program components of Annual Meeting for much of her tenure, including for the 200th Anniversary Celebration that brought 11,500 people to Worcester in 1999 and the Amistad Celebration that brought 8.000 people to Boston in 2003.
Dickerman is also well known in the Conference for her work in leading hundreds of churches to adopt safe church policies, her work with Christian Educators, and her role in coordinating countless gatherings and colloquies for clergy and lay leaders. She coordinated the strategic planning process that led the Conference to adopt the Vision for Growth and Renewal in 1999, and followed that by successfully co-writing the grant application to the Lilly Endowment that led to the formation of the Pastoral Excellence Program.
Dickerman also serves as Christian Education Director at the Edwards Church in Framingham.
“It is impossible to summarize the impact Sue Dickerman has had on the churches, the leaders, the teachers and the staff of the Mass Conference over her 26 years of service,” Antal said. “Sue’s life and ministry testify to how God’s presence becomes visible in relationships. Her personal vitality and courage have inspired countless ones of us to take on enormous challenges and dream unlikely visions of how God’s kingdom might show up – right here; right now. Miss her – we surely will! Honor her by extending the reach of life-changing, ministry-changing initiatives – count on it!”