Vitality, noun: The state of being strong and active
Rev. Justin Nierer, Vitality Ministry Council Representative
The Vitality Council of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches oversees a great number of things such as the lay ministry program, the annual awards, regional Convocations, co-chairing church revitalization, CFTS, etc.
We are extremely busy and usually find ourselves focusing on 2-3 major tasks a year because of the sheer scope of the projects we are working on. For example, the revamping of the lay-ministry program is a multi-part process lead by Rev. Doug Gray. Out of that will come a task team, also lead by Doug, that will report to the Vitality Council as needed.
We also are responsible for the annual awards that are given out at the Annual meeting which would be the Butman awards and the Russell preaching award. The Russell award is given out every two years. As of this writing, we are planning on re-wording the criteria for these awards. For example, the Russell award can easily become a history lesson and we would like to see our pastors dig a little “deeper” on what it means to be Congregational and how our tradition and our history can be communicated in the 21
Century in order to connect with the communities and cultures surrounding our churches. Yes, we know that the pilgrims landed in 1620 but what does that have to do with me?
Of course, another event we help organize is the regional convocations. This is very close to my heart and I am moved almost to tears as I write this and remember quite vividly the Convocations of this year. The reports I have been hearing have been amazing and God seemed to have been doing some incredible things through our times of fellowship and learning. I find that Congregational pastors seem to always be very humble and very “teachable” even at seasons of their lives where they might not be in vocational ministry full time. I feel that needs to be celebrated and I most definitely saw that at the Midwest Convocation where a number of retired pastors attended.
In regards to the Regional Convocation idea, if you are reading this and will be at the Annual Meeting in Cleveland; there will be a map at the Expo room of the United States. Please mark where your church is located on the map. We are using this as a tool to see where NA “clusters” are best represented for possible future Convocation sites. If you are part of a church that might not be close to another NA church, a regional convocation would be a great step in building those relationships.