In 2020, The Congregational Church, UCC in Tryon changed its governance structure to follow the Hotchkiss Model. This decision was made as a direct response to an identified need from the congregation to create a clearer more dynamic way of engaging in shared ministry. Below you will find some information about the Hotchkiss Model and why we chose it as our guide. While we are still learning how to work in this new way, we have found that it has been a positive change for our congregation and has allowed us to live into our vision for ministry.
The Model: An Overview
- Clear and dynamic governance structures allow congregations to operate from a place of hope and with vitality. The Hotchkiss Model is a structured and clearly defined model with specific roles for church staff, clergy, laity, and the congregation as a whole. As a result, it reduces fear and distrust. It puts church staff and clergy in partnership with lay leadership and the congregation to most effectively utilize everyone’s time and talents. It also very much encourages an annual all church visioning effort to plan and set goals together for the following year. As one church told us “with many governance models, you know where you will get a ‘no’, but with the Hotchkiss Model everyone clearly understands how you can get a ‘yes’ when it comes to ministry.”
- Ministry Oriented. The Hotchkiss model values ministry. Its structure involves a small Governing Board that works in partnership with the clergy. The Governing Board focuses on governance of the church and takes on higher level questions about the ministry of the church. This is the only board with term limits, and is the only board elected by the congregation. The Governing Board is made up of the Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, Secretary, 2 At-Large Members, and the Pastor. The Governing Board appoints committees (finance, nominating, etc.) to assist, as needed, with the governance and administration of church business. There are typically a few standing ministry teams (worship, grounds, outreach, etc.), but ministry teams can evolve over time, as the needs and mission of the church evolve. Ministry teams typically consist of 3-5 persons who have self-selected based on their passions. Church staff/clergy recruit people for specific ministry teams. This is not a meeting oriented system. You meet when you need to, aside from the governing board which has a required amount of meetings per year. You meet for a purpose.
- Passion in Action. The Hotchkiss model values people’s time, talent, and treasure. It seeks to match people with ministries and specific projects that they are passionate about. Any small group of people can start a ministry within the church as they feel inspired and led by the Holy Spirit, and as it aligns with the church’s mission, vision, and core values. Ministry teams do not have term limits (if your passion is the church grounds, or parish life, etc. you can keep doing it as you feel called) and are open to all. If a ministry is not being supported, that ministry team ends. The model encourages creativity, new growth, and vitality. If something needs to end, it ends, and is not seen necessarily as a failure. Churches who use this model report an increase in volunteers and those willing to give their time to ministries. They also report experiencing more joy in their church leadership and ministries.
The Congregational Church, UCC in Tryon is served by the following Governing Board members. The Board meets on the third Tuesday of every month.
Meghan D. Young
Senior Pastor and Member