LAKELAND — In a time when congregations are asking more and more
from their churches, cooperative parish ministry could be a way for
several churches to work together to accomplish goals that alone would
be difficult to achieve.
The Rev. David Herman, chairman of the Florida Conference task
force on cooperative parish ministry and district superintendent of
the Sarasota District, will define and explore options related to that
kind of ministry at the Nov. 12 Conference Table meeting at St. Mark’s
United Methodist Church in Ocala from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. All
clergy and laity are invited to attend.
The Conference Table, created in 2002, is a venue for clergy and
laity to discuss the connectional life and the current context of the
United Methodist Church in Florida in the 21st century.
Herman said cooperative parish ministry is a way to increase
diversity, improve stewardship, raise connectional giving, engage in
more mission and strengthen ministerial preparation, while also
lowering the cost of doing ministry.
It’s worked well for the South Sarasota Teaching Parish, which
includes two churches that share in educating lay speakers and working
with candidates for the ministry. It began in June 2003.
The Rev. Dr. Don Nations, secretary of the task force and director
of the South Sarasota Teaching Parish, said cooperative parish
ministry is different than a multi-point charge in which one pastor is
split among many churches. He said cooperative parish ministry allows
the sharing of staff at a reduced cost so all participating churches
receive ministry that is increased in both quantity and quality.
“Cooperative parish ministry is a way for churches to be in
ministry together,” Nations said. “It is a relationship in which
churches can share staff, ministry, mission, people, facilities and
other resources. Churches of all sizes and in all locations can
benefit from being part of a cooperative parish.
“It is an instrument for transformation that can decrease fixed
costs and lead to greater investment in connectional giving and
ministry in the local church.”
Herman said the cooperative parish ministry is already an effective
model for change in the Sarasota District. He said the South Sarasota
Teaching Parish has found a solution for the two churches that were
facing significant hurdles and challenges. He said through the
cooperative parish, they have experienced growth, as well as
“Cooperative parish ministry is as old as Methodism and worked well
in the rural settings of early American Methodism,” Herman said. “It
is now being rediscovered as a ministry model that works in urban,
suburban and rural settings, Anglo and ethnic churches, large, medium
and small congregations—anywhere Christians are willing to work
together to fulfill God’s call on their churches.”
For more information on the Conference Table visit http//www.flumc.org.