History of the Wood County Area Ministries
In the fall of 2008, several groups of concerned clergy, laity, and other community members came together in Bowling Green to address a long-term concern about how churches were meeting emergency needs in the community. As they met, they began to see the need to form a collaborative, church-based organization that would help improve their understanding of community needs and develop a system of ministries and intra-church communication and collaboration that would help to meet those needs.
By the spring of 2009, this group had hosted a community-wide meeting and gathered more than a dozen area church representatives together to form the Wood County Area Ministries. The group had initially moved in the direction of affiliating with Toledo Area Ministries. However, the existence of The Link, a 24-hour information and referral service of Behavioral Connections of Wood County as well as Wood County Area Ministries’ desire to partner with affiliated service organizations in addition to churches made that a less than ideal fit for both Ministries. The information in the Formation section of this document outlines the initial proposal for organization. The Addendum updates the initial process.
Formation of the Wood County Area Ministries
May 5, 2009
The Wood County Area Ministries shall be a network of churches/organizations united in service to our community. Churches may join by filling out a Data Sheet and sending a representative to the Council meetings. The Council will consist of a representative and/or the pastor of each member church or ministry. The Council will design the process details; find ways to meet new opportunities for service, and work to fulfill the aims of the Purpose. Affiliate organization with the same purposes may also be a part of the network with a representative on the Council.
The Network shall have a Chairperson elected by the Council, to oversee and lead the network. There will also be a Coordinator for the network, approved by the Council. The network will work in cooperation with Toledo Are Ministries, which will train, advise, offer mutual assistance, and keep coordinating records, and The Link which will refer to area agencies and give emergency aid. Churches will generally go through the Link to begin the process. The Link is available at all times.
Each member church will be encouraged to provide a specialized ministry to which others may send volunteers, supplies, and aid. The Wood County Area Ministries will be coordinating body only, with no treasury or legal entanglements. This will assure more flexibility in meeting needs through the churches. The churches/organizations will each set their own guidelines (for the ministry they sponsor*) following the purposes of the Wood County Area Ministries, allowing flexibility and creativity.
The purpose of the Wood County Area Ministries will be
The Wood County Area Ministries connects local area churches of various denominations, along with affiliated service-oriented organizations, to work together to help those in need. The ultimate goal of the Wood County Area Ministries is to help these churches and organizations develop healthy relationship with the individuals they serve and with each other.
Wood County Area Ministries
*empowers those they serve by actively listening to them, demonstrating equity through love, and referring them to appropriate ministries or service organizations; and empowers each church through mutual support.
*equips those they serve by providing resources and personal relationships and equips churches and service organizations through network communication, collaboration, and coordination.
*informs people about resources, opportunities for service, needs in the community, and just issues to stimulate dialogue and action.
*inspires for strength in unity and networking.
The churches included in the network serve the community, loving others through Christ, supporting those in ministry, and demonstrating unity by setting an example of love, forgiveness, acceptance, and community through cooperative Christian ministry.
Affiliated service organizations may also offer themselves for the same principles (love, forgiveness, acceptance, and community) through service, social activism, leadership development, and social justice advocacy.
Addendum to the Formation Document
Wood County Area Ministries (WAM) is a process to be used for networking and coordinating ministries. It is subject to change as the network discerns the resources and needs. It is meant to give the most personal connections to those in need of the services. WAM is open throughout Wood County. Many communities already have a similar program and might eventually become affiliated in the same way that TAM is (i.e. sharing education, opportunities, ideas, concerns, limited resources, strength and encouragement, etc.)
A Council of representatives of all the member churches/affiliate organization/ ministries led by the Chairperson meets each month to refine the process and find ways to better meet needs. They share important decisions with each member organization. Each church would have a representative of the church, a pastor, and a representative of each WAM ministry on the council. Each affiliated organization would have a representative as well. (Alternates should be maintained and informed in case a representative is unable to come.)
Representatives would keep their churches/organization/ministries informed and active for ministry, encouraging cooperation with the other ministries involved in WAM. The representatives would be on the alert for (and let WAM know of) other organizations providing services that we should be cooperating with rather than duplicating.
The Chairperson’s responsibility is to oversee the Council, to enable continuity, to assure that every church/organization is heard and respected, to see that the vision is carried through and to be a point of communication among the various churches and organizations.
The Coordinator connects persons in need with the ministries offering assistance, keeps records of such, recruits and enables volunteers to find ministries in which to serve and keeps a database of volunteers for services beyond the coordinated Ministries.
Each church is encouraged to offer a Ministry that is different from the others. Persons from one church may want to serve in the ministry of another due to their interest or two churches who have been doing the same ministry may want to combine the ministry. Churches are encouraged to do one Ministry and do it well. College students will expand the volunteer base. As the Network meets they will discover other ministries that are needed and those churches who do not originally have a specified ministry in the network may wish to take these on. Publicity would be in the name of the Ministry and churches as WAM is not offering services per se. WAM is a tool for the churches, not a replacement. Each church or affiliate will create their own set of guidelines for the WAM Ministry they provide. These are share with the rest of the Churches/Organizations. Guidelines, as differentiated from rules, can be adjusted to each situation so that people don’t “fall in the cracks”. if persons are served by the Ministry without going through the network, the ministry should contact the network with information on who was served and what they received. This will correct duplications of services and enable WAM to be consistent.
The persons being served are to be treated with respect as God’s children. They are often members of our churches and in the current economic crisis may not be used to asking. They may want to pay back by becoming involved in one of our ministries. Maintaining their pride is an important factor. Coercion is Unchristian.