Adam, writing at Unity, comment about the newly ordained David Miller and his decision not to seek ministerial fellowship in the Unitarian Universalist Association, and presumably standing in the United Church of Christ.
Adam, over all, paints a warm picture of fellowship. Very well.
I’m not so sure. I know there were strong jitters across the UUA and the ministerial college in the 80s and 90s following revelations of clergy sexual misconduct in the prior generation. Stringent efforts to keep the ministry safe belie the easy-breezy reputation of the UUA, and that’s all to the good. (Not that some ministers don’t skate on very thin ice, and take liberties with other adults that I find distasteful and unministerial. But these are very few if my intelligence is correct. And it is hard to keep a secret among Unitarian Universalist ministers.)
But there are serious systemic problems; the greatest of which is the internship bottleneck that puts unfair strains on qualified candidates. And — this is more the point — what and who does fellowship benefit?
Unlike the Methodists and Episcopalians, with their particular polity, there’s no right to a ministry. There’s no accountability for the many “minister killing churches” out there and there isn’t even very much scholarship or assistance money. The much-lamented (and terribly expensive) group medical plan is in history books. The candidates and ministers have the reponsibility and the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, by its sheer weight, has more and more authority.
This senario doesn’t bear up well under a cost-benefit analysis. Neither does the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association which doesn’t seem to be much of an advocate for the ministerial college and doesn’t provide very compelling programming. (There: I said it.) I decided it wasn’t worth $185 a year for the privilege and have let my membership lapse.
“Don’t I care?” you may ask. Or what about team spirit? I think I’ve got these in spades and I have colleagues that can speak to that. But in our well-networked, de-centralized age, I think it fair to ask that a formal organizations that have networking and support missions are going to have to justify their existence with better and more tangible services.
I’ll recognize colleagues as I please. Welcome to the ministry, David.