Rev. Mark Ward: What Do We Do Here?

Mark Speaking-WE DO

How we focus our work as a religious institution is something that evolves over time as we in this community come to a growing understanding of who we are and what we feel called to do. It can be hard work to figure this out, but one of the benefits of Policy Governance, the way that we organize ourselves as a congregation, is that it guides us to a process to be clear on those points.

Any conversation about our purpose begins with our Mission Statement. From it our Board of Trustees is tasked to create Ends Statements that describe what it believes we must do to fulfill our Mission. The Board passes those Ends Statements on to me, who as Executive is charged with achieving those Ends. I then say how I interpret those Ends Statements and how we plan to achieve them through the ministry of our congregation.

Described in the abstract that way all this can sound very removed, but it’s not. Because these high concepts guide all the particular decisions we make about concrete things like staffing and programming, how we shape worship and religious education, what is the focus of our social justice work and our caring ministry. You get the picture.

When we first adopted Policy Governance about five years ago, the Board and I went through this process of them writing Ends Statements and me writing interpretations. These have guided us through those years, but in reviewing those old Ends Statements the Board decided recently that they could use some improvement: they were a little wordy and vague. So, earlier this year they rewrote them, trying to make them tighter and more focused. This month I am submitting to the Board my interpretations of their revised Ends, and I thought it was something that it would be good to share with everyone.

In my report to the Board I go into some detail on specific ways I think we can measure whether their Ends are being achieved. I’d be happy to share this longer report with you if you’d like to know more, but for now let me just offer this document giving you the Board’s Ends and my interpretations that I offer to guide our work together.