Framework for ministerial education

Call me funny, but some kind of structure in the ministerial formation meta-curriculum is a good thing. Indeed, that’s what you get in a theological education, and your accredited seminary isn’t going to let you go with an M.Div. without a basic education.

But that gets back to what’s basic.

This isn’t going to be popular, but the Unitarian Universalist Association is a denomination, at least “denominationish”, and that’s the Universalist inheritance. Not “denominationy” in all places, but certainly in the realm of ministerial formation. The member churches don’t just “associate” for common mission, the corporate unity (“Unitarian Universalism”) credentials ordination candidates and ministerial transfer. That’s why ministers serving churches have the right to vote at General Assembly; it isn’t all about the congregation. The much feared MFC? A pretty clear carry-over from the old Universalist Central Fellowship Committee. (Plainly, I wish the old Universalist fellowship committee power was still around. It had fellowship power over churches, which equalized power.)

Since that’s the case, it seems to be that the UUA should be very clear about formation standards. A firmer standard, and not one just held by the seminaries. With most ministerial students not going to Meadville/Lombard or Starr King, that seems right.

OK: is that scary? Then, if not that, then churches that choose to ordain need to take their reponsibilities seriously and establish standards for themselves. Seriously.

But here’s a standard to work with.

A Short Summary of What Candidates Ought to Know in Each of the Seven Canonical Areas

4 Replies to “Framework for ministerial education”

  1. My opinion will probably be extremely unpopular. But I’ll offer it.

    I think the M.Div is a behemoth. It is even, properly speaking, a dinosaur. It expects too much in an attempt to be a one-size fits all degree.The degree that tries to create fabulous preachers, church administrators, theologians, pastoral leaders, hospital chaplains, religious educators, pastoral counselors, social justice workers, you name it, instead puts out stressed out graduates who owe too much money into a continued stress with low pay field. I certainly realize that ministry is a comprehensive and expansive vocation, but I just don’t think the current educational structure of the MDiv cuts it. I’m certainly not saying there should be no credentialling or educational requirements, or that they should even be necessarily *easier*–just more sensible and more relevent.

    Bah. Back to studying!

    (Note: I love studying, so my gripes are not from someone with an aversion to study.)

  2. -There’s more to the process than the M.Div., and a serious flaw with the internship process. Bluntly, just because you get to candidacy in the UUA process, and even if you finish the MDiv, this does not mean that a teaching church will ever grant you an internship… No matter how many years you beg and plead, nor how many churches you apply to. I know the anguish of this first-hand.

    In the Episcopal process, your bishop doesn’t let you into Div school, untill he/she is willing to guarantee you a curate position in the diocese. It’s a harder process, but not the flaming cliff many of my fellow ESR grads have fallen off of.

  3. This is true, Derek. Of course, I’m only addressing the M.Div itself, not the entire process, and your observations of the process within the UUA seem accurate. I may reach candidacy, but there’s no telling of what will happen next.

    I’m not sure how I feel about the Episcopal discernment process. It is not merely harder; in some areas (e.g., the Diocese of Washington) it is notoriously difficult, and I’ve heard some horror stories emerge out of it.

    Well, no process is perfect, and I’m not saying that one is better than the other here. Just some further observations.

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