Unity on the Bay, Miami, Fla., is going through a major cultural shift as we launch what we are calling a “Culture of Call.” One intention was born a little over a year ago during our strategic planning process, which was led by our senior minister, Rev Chris Jackson, and board president, Eddie Dominguez. The intention: “to develop a culture in integrity with spiritual principles that empowers the congregation to be the driving force behind the operation of Unity on the Bay to ensure the establishment of a thriving, diverse, bi-lingual, multi-cultural spiritual community.” We realized that Spirit was guiding us to mentor and empower our congregation to realize their unique calling.
Our board treasurer, Mary McKenry, headed a committee that worked diligently on the new model of ministry. The model consists of three overlapping/intertwined spheres: program-driven ministries, member-driven ministries and small-group ministries.
Program-driven ministries are composed of functions and activities that are determined to be an essential and ongoing element of our organizational identity and are the responsibility of congregant councils or teams working directly with an accountable individual serving on the Board of Trustees or staff. Examples include our Sunday Celebration Service and our Wednesday Om hour.
In traditional ministry, ministers respond to their call by providing programs and services for members. In the culture of call, ministers inspire the call of each member to provide programs and services of their own. Unity on the Bay empowers the leader who has been “called” to serve. A recent example was when one of our members, Jody Johnson, led a summit on “Ending Hunger in Miami” based on the success of a city in Brazil. Unity on the Bay supports the lay leadership through mentoring and training.
Small-group ministries are time-specific with a clear beginning and end. Typically, the small group is studying a book. The facilitator receives training on facilitating small groups.
To support this new structure, two new councils were formed. The Member-Driven Ministry Council supports the empowerment of each member-driven ministry with the opportunity for transformation through living from their calling. The council approves, supports and evaluates the member-driven ministries while mentoring its leadership through periodic workshops, classes and one-on-one coaching. Workshop topics include Q-effect training, spiritual and emotional intelligence, recognizing and developing your call, and compassionate communication.
The Small-Group Ministry Council supports the small group facilitators through workshops on how to lead a small group as well as providing mentors while they are leading the small group.
Unity on the Bay has a long history of developing and empowering leaders. Many Unity ministers and licensed Unity teachers came through our SEE (Spiritual Education & Enrichment) programs before going on to become credentialed leaders. While we want to continue the tradition of empowering congregants who want to become credentialed leaders, there is so much more we can empower our congregation to do: from ending hunger and advocating human rights to xyz. We believe that, through a cultural shift to allowing our congregation to answer their call, Unity on the Bay will thrive.