Yesterday, Chris Walton reported that
[Peter] Morales was installed during the [Unitarian Universalist Association General] Assemblyâ€™s closing ceremony, when departing UUA President William G. Sinkford gave Morales his stole and the Board of Trustees gathered around Moralesâ€™s family for the â€œlaying on of hands.â€
This bothers me and should bother all Unitarian Universalists. These customs are closely associated with ministerial ordination, not with induction into this office.
I’m not suggesting the UUA Trustees is ordaining Morales. First, the UUA is unable, by its own bylaws, to ordain; and second, he’s ordained already. But . . .
The last UUA president used his position to confect the presidency as a national pastorate: a role our governance does not include, and for which he was not elected. The president of the UUA is not like the “General Minister and President” of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) — indeed, it isn’t even like the General Superintendency of the Universalist Church of America (Universalist General Convention).We might find our way there, but we have not and have not chosen to do so.
And I think we ought not. Bill Sinkford was never my pastor. There is a confusion of personal and organizational roles. (Even the UCA/UGC General Superintendent had a more limited role.) I cringed every time he sent out a “pastoral letter”.Â The president’s office has enough influence on its own without affecting pseudo-episcopal privileges. I call on President Morales to abandon this misleading and presumptuous practice.
Second, with all the concern about who might be UUA president — an African American, then a woman or Latino; spare us ye saints from identity politics –Â the president of the UUA has never not been an ordained minister, even though this isn’t a requirement for the office. Funny, huh? Neither possible outcome in this election — nor the last, nor any I can remember — would have had any different outcome. Using a ceremony that necessarily ties the presidency of the UUA with the ordained ministry frames who can be president, apart from our own established rules. It is thus an abuse of our polity, and should be abandoned.