by Sue Flynn
Many people think that in order to become a UU minister you just need to get your Masters of Divinity from a Seminary and then you are automatically ordained as a minster. All denominations have different requirements but it is now pretty standard to need a Masters of Divinity degree in order to be a Chaplain or Minister. There are two specific UU seminaries, Star King located in Berkley, California, and Meadville Lombard found in Chicago, Illinois. The UUA also has many seminaries they approve of that are not specifically Unitarian Universalist.
A Masters of Divinity usually takes between 3-4 years to complete, I know many people who have taken 7 plus years to move through it. A ministerial education takes a lot of creativity and determination to finance. If you are considering UU ministry, thinking about how to pay for it is crucial.
The Unitarian Universalist Association has created a very detailed set of standards to qualify one to ministry. There are background checks, a psychological test that takes two days, one or more internships in a parish, and a CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) which is learning Chaplaincy. Throughout your entire education, you are asked to write and submit essays to the UUA and have a congregation that sponsors you.
Alongside getting your academic education at a Seminary there are somewhere between 80 – 116 books and trainings that you are required to read, digest and be proficient in. Recently the book list expanded to include not only UU theological books but everything from dealing with intersectionality to ministry in and outside the church. Each set of ministerial steps is accompanied by a status you achieve, Aspirant, and Candidate (1-10), the preparing for the Ministerial Fellowshipping Committee interview has about 15 steps.
What is this MFC Interview? I compare it to the bar for lawyers, or presenting your thesis for upper level grad work. You send the MFC a portfolio of your entire life and ministry, not just your resume, but your learnings and experiences from life. There are seven areas of ministry all candidates must be able to speak too. This is an incredibly rich opportunity to review and integrate one’s entire education and life learning. It has also has proven, to be a anxiety provoking process for many candidates preparing for it. This next year I will be studying all of the books trainings and reviewing all of my education and learning thus far, in preparation for the MFC test. I will be moving to the Midwest, so I can live simply and study.
My own particular path to ministry has given me the gift of learning to appreciate each step of the journey. I think of the process as similar to hiking up Mt. Everest, one has to focus on being present for each stage. Some moments take my breath away with their beauty, other moments I have to catch my breath acclimating to a new perspective and leg of the journey. I am invested in “arriving alive” and am committed to building the most sustainable form of ministry I can envision.
Thank UUCWC for being a wonderful stop along the way!
To see specific steps of UU ministry check out this link: https://www.uua.org/careers/ministers/becoming/preparatory-stages.