Summit on Ministerial Excellence-Proposed Topics

Now that my semester is officially done, I can be my usual questioning-of-the-UUA self.  So I took a closer look at the proposed topics up for discussion at the summit on ministerial excellence and have picked out the 6 that either raise the biggest questions or strongest reaction.  These are in no particular order.

12.  How we can best support seminary students in UU identity

What is UU identity? (or for that matter what is Catholic or Orthodox or Methodist identity)  In the free church tradition, what makes someone a UU?  Is UUism more about what we think? or how we think?

22.  Are lay ministers really ministers?

Only in an upper-class religion would this be a question.  What do you mean by minister? Someone who has some prerequisite education?

24.  Value of UU theological schools in training UU ministers and developing UU theology and culture

When 70% of UU ministers come from non-UU theological schools, what does this mean?

32.  How to keep UU youth

Let’s not forget that it’s not just a UU issue about losing a significant number of youth. Most denominations go through the same thing.  If the issue is how do you maintain contact with those who are raised UU, then maybe we need to look at the churches that seem to keep larger numbers of their youth and see what they are doing.  But of course that would require UUs to actually believe that there is something to learn from the Evangelical and Fundamentalist world.

36.  Teaching Elders

What do you mean by Elders?  In the tradition I was raised in, the Elders would be like a Board of Trustees. Some of those churches even ordained Elders.  Is that the type of Elder you’re talking about?

41.  What UUism would look like if we really put our children at the center of our life together

Will I make a bad minister if I tell you that I don’t believe that children should be at the center of our life together?  This does not mean that I think you should ignore children, but what makes children so special that they need to be the center of our life together? 

I’m sure I’ll have more comments the longer I think on this stuff.  That’s it for now though.


5 thoughts on “Summit on Ministerial Excellence-Proposed Topics

  1. 12. How we can best support seminary students in UU identity


    I’m not really sure what you’re trying to say here. I definitely think there are religious identities that are created by the rituals and theology of a church. Is the UU church really a free church? I have seen more of a thrust toward embracing our history and lots of questions about whether or not our principles constitute a creed (and why or why not that is a bad thing). Because our congregations are autonomous does not necessarily mean that there aren’t values or governance models that connect us as a “church.” I suspect that the reason that the UU faith isn’t growing is our reluctance to embrace an identity and to help congregants articulate what that identity might be. It makes it very easy to float away from something if you don’t know how to say what it is.


    To me it gives me pause that the UUA has taken away financial support of UU schools. I think there is value in attending a non-UU seminary, but personally, I think this is also tied up in that resistance to identity or a fear of boxing ourselves in. Since I am going to attend Meadville Lombard, and made that choice very intentionally, with the idea of also taking non-degree classes at a traditionally Christian seminary, I think that talking about the value of that school is important.


    I agree with you. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. We can learn a lot from those who are doing it successfully.


    I am torn about this. I think the question itself is phrased badly; I think that children should be living life and not be segregated and I think that integration is done relatively badly at most churches. And children ARE Special, because they are our future. If we don’t engage our youth, they will not stay, or come back, or be invested in our faith as adults.

  2. “but what makes children so special that they need to be the center of our life together?”

    Allow me to allow UUA presidential candidate Rev. Peter Morales to provide a clue to the answer to that question. According to his “stump speech” announcing his candidacy for UUA President U*Uism is a “tiny, declining, fringe religion”. It is also an *aging* “fringe religion” too I expect. U*Us who have seen the light understand that if U*Us do not “really put our children at the center of our life together” the U*U World won’t look like much at all in a few decades. . .

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