An effective leader will help the congregation pay attention to Christian unity and interreligious relationships so that the walls of division among God’s people are abolished.
Spiritual Gifts and Qualifications Helpful for the Job
- This ministry coordinator benefits from having one or more of these spiritual gifts: servanthood, teaching, exhortation (encouragement), leadership, administration, helping and shepherding.
- This leader should show evidence of passion for interreligious relationships and interest in learning about and working with people of other denominations and faiths.
- Useful skills for this position are the ability to listen to and communicate with people of all ages, ability to work with leaders of other faiths, and skills for researching and developing programs and events. This leader should show genuine interest in relating to others in the community.
Responsibilities of the Position
- This leader will coordinate the planning and implementation of opportunities for the congregation and community to consider the theological and biblical foundations for Christian unity and interreligious relationships.
- The leader will provide opportunities for people in the congregation and community to learn about and know people of other faiths, including exchange visits with people in other denominations and faiths.
- The coordinator will initiate dialogue with people of other faith communities.
- The leader will lead the congregation in celebration of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (usually in January) and other efforts for congregational or community worship among people of various faiths and denominations.
- This leader will link with organizations, people, and resources in and beyond the congregation that are concerned with Christian unity and interreligious life.
- Talk with your pastor and other leaders to understand their hopes for your leadership as it relates to fulfilling the mission of the congregation. Become familiar with current and past ministry in this area.
- Identify people in your congregation, in the community, and in other congregations who have interests similar to yours. Contact people and groups to increase community events and programs. Seek to identify gaps where your congregation can lead the way in making a positive difference in Christian unity and interreligious concerns.
- Read ¶102 in the Book of Discipline to understand our common heritage as Christians and our distinctive United Methodist beliefs. Read ¶162B about the rights of religious minorities, ¶164C on church and state relations, and ¶165 for statements on living in the world community.
- Identify others with whom you can develop this focus. Share the ministry with others by delegating projects to people in the church or community who have passion.
- Set aside time for personal spiritual practices to build your attentiveness to God's will for your leadership. Coordination and administration of a ministry program can shift any leader's attention away from the spiritual focus.
People and Agencies That Can Help
- Your pastor and people in your congregation, the community, and other congregations and faiths who share your interest. Be alert to community groups committed to unity and positive human relations. As you travel, visit other congregations and religious worship centers to learn about other faiths.
- Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships, 212-870-3800; Email: [email protected]; Website: www.ocuir.org. Visit the website for information about current efforts toward unity with other Christian denominations and opportunities for interreligious dialogue.
- InfoServ, the information service for the church, provides current information about United Methodist resources, programs, and staff services. Email: [email protected]; Website: infoserv.umc.org.
Web and Print Resources
- The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, 2016 (Nashville: The United Methodist Publishing House, 2016)
- Children’s Defense Fund, www.childrensdefense.org (a strong, effective, independent voice for all the children of America)
- Handbook of Denominations in the United States (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2010)
- Interfaith Alliance. Protecting Faith and Freedom. www.interfaithalliance.org
- Interpreter, www.interpretermagazine.org
- National Council of Churches, www.ncccusa.org
- Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships, www.ocuir.org
- Perfecting Unity by Dr. Glen Alton Messer, II
- Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life, www.pewforum.org
- Teaching Tolerance, www.tolerance.org (a magazine, teaching kits, classroom activities and more for students and adults)
- Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/week-of-prayer
- World Council of Churches, www.oikoumene.org