Joy Barnitz welcomed by Conference as an MID

by Joy Barnitz

The sound of applause greeted us and everyone on the committee was standing as we entered the room just after noon on October 19. I was able to breathe again as the realization began to sink in: I was now an MID.

A what?

MID stands for Member In Discernment. It’s the designation in the United Church of Christ for church members who are on a spiritual journey of discernment towards ordained ministry “in and on behalf” of the United Church of Christ. My journey is in covenant with Niles Discovery Church, represented on my “MID committee” – made up of Pastor Jeff, Pastor Brenda, Rev. Tim Weible, Valerie Parker and Mark McConville – and the Committee on Ministry Section A (COM-A), which supervises the process for Members In Discernment and the authorization of clergy seeking standing in the Northern California Nevada Conference (learn more at

For me, this is a renewed journey of discernment growing out of my call to grow where I am planted, in the community where I live, to expand the gifts of the church beyond one congregation, one denomination, one faith tradition. I came to the UCC through my seminary education at the Pacific School of Religion and as a member of the leadership team of Sanctuary for the Arts, (, an experimental ministry that was “in care” with the Bay Association until 2017. Being part of a loving community at Niles Discovery Church has renewed my sense of call to be a “translator” and “connector” within and between communities of faith, and also to seekers, the “spiritual but not religious” who are so abundant in our world.

My restlessness with “standard” church led me to seminary nearly a decade ago. My experience in Sanctuary for the Arts taught me the need for grounding such efforts in a supportive community. I am grateful to be part of such a community at Niles Discovery Church. I look forward to the journey. I’ll keep you informed as different milestones are achieved.

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