Peter Bowden (UUGrowth.com) is musing about local ordination, following some buzz on a UUA mailing list. (Which, I wonder?)
I responded at length; see below. Since I know some of my readers have an interest in polity I’m repeating my answer here, and invite you to participate in the conversation on his site. (Unless you have a date for the UUA bylaws change I mention below; please comment here.)
Of course there was ordination before the Association, but as for polity itâ€™s important to distinguish between the mainline Unitarian and Universalist practices of congregationalism. Universalists usually ordained and fellowshipped ministers at the state convention level. Unitarians ordained locally and were fellowshipped through special (vicinage) councils called from local churches for the purpose of examination. Our current practice is a hybrid.
The old Unitarian form of practice is still held by the â€œcontinuing Congregationalistsâ€ so see here to see how it was: http://www.naccc.org/ministries/OrdinationsAndInstallations.aspx
In short, what you describe is independent ordination, not congregational(ist) ordination. Yes, the ordinand is minister for that church â€” and any other that chooses to recognize it. And I bet others might. Our faltering systems fail many good candidates, some of whom proceed with independent ordination. The UUA note above â€” damning as it is with its hollow voice â€” makes me wonder if itâ€™s not more common that commonly thought. [Note: he quoted from and linked here.]
I wrote about this here: http://boyinthebands.com/archives/can-the-uua-recognize-ordinations/ and perhaps other places. Itâ€™s a bit of a bugbear for me.
There used to be UUA licensed lay ministers â€” an inheritance from the Universalists â€” but the practice died out (I suspect killed off) and finally written out of the bylaws. In the 1990s I think. But I donâ€™t see much value in institutionalizing the practice, seeing as the ministerial college would almost surely rally against it. Hurts the guild or some nonsense like that.