Excellence in Ministry

There’s a good discussion on the PeaceBang and iMinister blogs right now about the upcoming Excellence in Ministry seminar taking place later this week. Many of the comments have revolved around the rather substantial and inflexible requirements for credentialing ministers in the UUA.

To be both clear and brief, UU congregations can call and ordain anyone they like to be their minister – you, me, or anyone else. But unless that person is credentialed, neither the UUA nor other UU congregations will recognize their status as a minister, meaning opportunities for career development and advancement are extremely limited. This forces all ministerial candidates into the same channel, regardless of their age, experience, ministerial gifts, or financial situation.

The average UU minister leaves seminary with around $60,000 in debt. This is not only a personal burden, it severely restricts employment possibilities. Many ministers simply can’t afford to take a position with a smaller congregation that has limited financial resources.

As someone who had to deal with the impact of a poor (albeit credentialed) minister and then chaired the search committee that found our current ministers, I have a great appreciation for the need for a gatekeeper and for ministerial standards. At the same time, I have no use for arbitrary hoops to jump through, particularly when those hoops keep gifted would-be ministers from pursuing their vocations at the same time they fail to identify and eliminate poor ministers.

I’ll be following the iMinister blog reports closely.

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About John Beckett

I’m a Druid in the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. I’m an ordained priest in the Universal Gnostic Fellowship. I’m the Coordinating Officer of the Denton, Texas Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans. This year I’m also serving as a member of the Board of Trustees of CUUPS National. I’m a member of the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

I write as a spiritual practice. It helps me organize my thoughts and work through ideas and concepts. It helps me evaluate my beliefs and practices against my core values and against what I know (or at least, what I think I know) to be true. It helps me interpret my experiences (religious and otherwise) in ways that are both meaningful and honest.


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