What is a Transition Team? Why are we using one?
A few years ago, as the formerly three Conferences initiated ministry as one, the National UCC released a new profile to be used in Congregations. This new profile is structured to be a self-assessment of the church and to correlate with the work typically taken on during Transition Periods in congregations and traditionally led by Intentional Interims. The goal of the Congregational Profile in being designed for self-assessment is that at any point in time, the church can turn to it to reinitiate a visioning phase of ministry and an assessment of where the congregation has been in recent years.
The UCC learned that in order for this to happen, churches need to create a community base of knowledge for how to make this happen. It is no longer sufficient for a Transitional Minister to enter a congregation between settled pastorates to engage in this assessment and vision work. We now recognize that frequent assessment of the whole church system and how it is serving to support the mission and vision of the church is essential to congregational health and vitality. With the world changing as rapidly as it is pastoral leadership is strengthened when the church holds a clear picture of where the congregation is heading.
Establishing a Transition Team to walk with the Intentional Interim during a pastoral transition creates that necessary base of knowledge in the church about how to engage in the work of assessing ministry as well as developing goals, clear missional values and vision for the future. The Transition Team becomes the institutional memory of how and why the Congregational Profile was written as it was, of how the questions were asked of the congregation, and who was present in the conversations. The Transition Team ensures that the whole congregation is engaged in the work it is responsible to during this phase of its life together.
In addition, asking a Transition Team to work with the Interim to develop the Congregational Profile makes the work of the Pastoral Search Team more manageable. The work of one team flows into that of the other. With so many churches realizing burnout of leadership and the reality that most churches are struggling to fill administrative roles, this is now the recommended process nationwide in the UCC and was adopted by the Southern New England Conference during the realities of the COVID-19 Pandemic.