Requirements for Becoming a Minister
To serve in ministerial fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), it is necessary to have the required educational preparation and be granted Ministerial Fellowship by the Ministerial Fellowship Committee (MFC) of the UUA. The general qualifications, as stated by the Ministerial Fellowship Committee in MFC Rule 11, are these:
“All candidates must have satisfactorily completed all educational and skill training programs and demonstrates the qualities, skills and aptitude required for Unitarian Universalist ministry as determined by the MFC. Those qualifications and requirements include, but are not limited to, the following: satisfactory completion of an approved clinical pastoral education (CPE) program and an internship (as described in MFC Rule 12), or the equivalent; have completed the required reading; have undergone an approved career assessment program; be able to demonstrate an understanding of and experience with UU congregational life based on at least two years active involvement or equivalent; must demonstrate a strong motivation for our ministry; must be sponsored by a member society; and must demonstrate a balanced and healthy personality, a capacity for self-understanding, a concern for others, and ministerial leadership skills. The Committee will further require that the candidate be well informed on the history and development of Unitarianism and Universalism, familiar with the Bylaws of the Unitarian Universalist Association, and fully committed to the purpose, objectives and guidelines of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers’ Association. A candidate for the Ministry shall also have a Master of Divinity degree or its equivalent from a theological school approved by the Committee or have had an equivalent educational experience. Any exceptions to these qualifications must be approved by the MFC.”
The process to be granted fellowship as a Unitarian Universalist (UU)minister involves a considerable and sustained commitment of time, money and a willingness to grow professionally and personally. The basic requirements involved to prepare for ministerial fellowship include successful completion of:
- The materials required to become an aspirant;
- A career assessment from a center approved by the MFC (Page 23: see Appendix);
- Candidacy status granted through an RSCC interview;
- Sponsorship by a UU Congregation;
- An approved internship (on an internship waiver approved by the MFC);
- A unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (or CPE Equivalency as determined by the MFC);
- The MFC Reading List;
- A Masters of Divinity degree (or an equivalent determined by the MFC);
- A Criminal Record/Background Check;
- An interview with the Ministerial Fellowship Committee.
Theological Schools Offering the Masters of Divinity Degree
The Ministerial Fellowship Committee encourages you to contact seminaries of interest to obtain the latest materials on entrance requirements, programs of study, degree requirements, field education and internship opportunities, and financial aid. The Ministerial Fellowship Committee will accept a Master of Divinity degree from any seminary accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) in the United States and Canada. ATS can be contacted at www.ats.edu. Aspirants attending theological schools that are not accredited by the Association of Theological Schools must seek an M. Div. Equivalency from the Ministerial Fellowship Committee.
Only Starr King School for the Ministry, and Meadville Lombard Theological School, are affiliated with the UUA. The UUA has a historic relationship and maintains close ties with Harvard Divinity School at www.hds.harvard.edu. While it is not required that you attend a UU seminary, by doing so, you will have greater access to UU history, polity, religious education and arts of ministry courses that may not be available at non-UU seminaries. Students associated with UU seminaries are also able to develop and enjoy a sense of community, and rich opportunities for academic discourse from a liberal religious perspective. The Ministerial Credentialing Director visits the UU schools on a regular basis and is available for consultation concerning the requirements for fellowship.
Other schools with a significant UU student presence include: Andover Newton Theological School, Bangor Theological Seminary, Seattle University, Iliff School of Theology, Lancaster Theological Seminary, Pacific School of Religion, Union Theological School, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities and Wesley Theological Seminary. The Ministerial Credentialing Director visits non UU schools as needed and meets with non-UU students at General Assembly.
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