What Would Be The Penalty For “Going Rogue”?…or Congregational Polity 101 pt.5

Over at Material Sojourn first comes this:

I don’t want to take away the power of the congregation to choose their leadership, including their minister, DRE, ect. I don’t want everyone to be in lock-step.

Yet a couple of lines later says:

I just want to make sure that they are all still being UU at their core.

And in the next post says:

What I am talking about, in the bigger sense, is abuse of the Polity system by rogue congregations as much as rogue ministers.

As I have said before, I have many problems with this type of thinking. You can read my previous posts in this thread to see why. But for this post, I’m going to go in a different direction.

Here’s a scenario:

East Podunk UU Church wants to ordain JerMichael Finley. JerMichael has been involved with the congregation for a number of years, has an M.Div. (or its equivalent), but wasn’t particularly interested in going through the fellowshipping process at that point in time. After a congregational meeting, East Podunk formally calls JerMichael Finley. After a few months, East Podunk ordains JerMichael.

Now if Thomas over at Material Sojourn had his way and there were codified ordaination standards, both JerMichael and East Podunk would both be considered to have “gone rogue” because they went outside the system. Here’s the question…what would be the penalty to East Podunk and JerMichael for going rogue?

Why is it that if the church in East Podunk were Baptist or Church of Christ or some Pentecostal denomination, nobody would be concerned that the East Podunk congregation ordained somebody? Why is it UUs who are trying to restrict who can spread the gospel?

As someone who sees some major class issues in the current MFC process, I want more people who can’t afford to go through the process to become ordained UU ministers. Codifying ordaination standards will just increase the class differential and make it that much harder for those who can’t afford to go through the process to be able to share their gifts. I don’t want that. Do you?


7 thoughts on “What Would Be The Penalty For “Going Rogue”?…or Congregational Polity 101 pt.5

  1. Again, you manage to make my point while avoiding answering my question: The current system still leaves us with a class differential, as almost all congregations recognize that the fellowship process provides a service to them in vetting and training potential ministers. Rather than addressing the problems with the MFC and the UUA, let’s lean on the false benefit of polity and ignore the problem of class disparity and the overly constricting MFC.

    How is polity actually helping? Still no answers…

    • Thomas, how is “polity” (by which I guess you mean “congregational polity”) hurting? You haven’t made your case. Kim is right that you appear to be expressing you taste preference for something more presbyterian rather than indicating any problem with congregational polity.

      • Actually, I did mention several ways in which strict congregational polity is hurting us in my post, linked first here, Polity Problems.

        ” I think that we can limit it (clergy misconduct) more with proper vetting of candidates, and why shouldn’t we do what we can?”

        I say that I am concerned about who is holding the title “reverend” because I want to know that, for every UU congregation “that the liberal religion being preached is in line with the 7 Principles” and “that all the sources are being respected”.

        Finally, I point out that there is no real covenant, despite the wording of the Bylaws section on Principles, because there is no way to enforce that covenant. If someone is paying dues to the UUA, they continue to be a UU congregation, no matter what is being preached from the pulpit, and the membership of UUA (meaning you and I) has no authority to challenge that. This is a problem, as many young adults have expressed discomfort in militantly humanist congregations before. This is a reason we can’t hold on to the youth.

        So, I did give several reasons why Congregational Polity is not serving us well, and I will ask ONE more time before I stop even reading replies here:

        What are the actual, present, real world benefits other than “we have always done it this way”?

      • Don’t most congregations and the UUA its self operate as representative democracies? A board is elected to handle most of the business…

        How does a slightly stronger UUA defeat the idea of Democracy if we have already admitted that most UUs have neither the inclination or the aptitude to participate in a direct, true democracy? All we are talking about is formally giving the UUA power that almost every congregation already gives the MFC in reality.

        Again, I have outlined abuses, both actual and possible, of the polity system we use. I am not talking about taking away the right of the congregation to pick its own leaders, or even its own clergy; I am only asking that actual ordination standards for ministers be set. I am even in favor of making them less repressive than the current MFC. I’ve been on the record in saying that the process is to convoluted, that it requires too much money, and that it needs tracks for chaplaincy, RE, and possibly, other forms of ministry.

  2. Thomas:

    1. If the “actual ordination standards for ministers” is set – then doesn’t that take away the ability of a congregation to pick its own clergy?

    2. Why do you care that “for every UU congregation ‘that the liberal religion being preached is in line with the 7 Principles'”?
    (a) other than your own congregation, is it any of your business?
    (b) I reject the privileged position of the 7 Principles, which you seem to be raising to near-creed?

    The UUA is not a denomination. It really does sound like you want it to be one.

    The point of the Free Church is that each one is free. THAT is the polity point that is viewed as fundamental – no one, ever, can tell any particular congregation what to do.

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