Retiring from the UU Ministry
Since retirement takes a variety of forms, the Ministry and Professional Leadership Staff Group offers the following definition of retirement as an aid to decision-making:
Retired status is available to ministers who are at least 65 years of age who wish to indicate that they have completed their careers, although not necessarily their ministries. Ministers may retire and still work professionally, usually in interim ministries or other ministries. Ministers planning to continue full-time ministry in other settings are asked to hold off declaring themselves retired until they more nearly fit the description of “ceasing remunerative work in one's later years.” To be considered retired, the minister must declare his or her intention to retire to Ministry and Professional Leadership.
Retirement does not affect fellowship status.
How to Retire
- When a minister decides to retire, he or she must submit the Intent to Retire form to Ministry and Professional Leadership.
- Early in the process of considering retirement, a minister should contact the Office of Church Staff Finances for information relating to pension and retirement benefits.
The normal retirement age is 65. Early retirement may be elected at age 55, or age 50 for ministers with the approval of Ministry and Professional Leadership. There is no mandatory retirement age for either UU ministers or non-ordained employees. A minister who elects early retirement and later seeks resettlement in a permanent full-time ministry shall not be eligible for further service benefits beyond those already earned prior to retirement. (MFC Rule 29)
Retirement Due to Disability
A minister who is in full fellowship may retire at any time as a result of a long-term disability.
Recognition of Retirement
The UUA recognizes the retirement of ministers in its Fellowship annually, at the Service of the Living Tradition held at GA. All ministers retiring prior to May 15th of a particular year will be acknowledged at that year's Service.
Retiring ministers are listed in the “Milestones” column of the UU World magazine. Retirements are announced as notification is received. Contact the Assistant to the Director of Ministry and Professional Leadership to report a retirement.
Retiring ministers will receive official recognition of their new status from the Ministerial Fellowship Committee.
Congregations benefiting from long and meritorious service concluded in a minister's later years may wish to grant emeritus/emerita status to the minister. Such status can be bestowed only by congregations, and like other honorifics, it is most meaningful when reserved for an indication of special regard. The UUA Bylaws (Art. IV, Sec. 4.8[b]) award General Assembly voting status to ministers emeriti/ae in Fellowship who have received the award at least six months before the GA by vote of the congregation in which they were previously settled. For this reason it is important that congregations notify Ministry and Professional Leadership when an emeritus title has been bestowed. Please see the Emeritus/Emerita Designation page for more information.
On Being the Former Minister
The Guidelines of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association (UUMA) (Art. IX, Sec. C, D & E) mandate that the greatest sensitivity and care be exercised in the relations between the retired minister, the congregation and the new incumbent minister. Traditionally it has been the responsibility of the former minister to “give way” when a collision was imminent. More fruitful, however, is the establishment of public, covenantal relationships, first among the former minister and the congregation, and then, once the settled incumbent arrives, among all three parties.
It falls to the retiring minister, in the last three to six months of her or his ministry, to perform the first movement of a “ministry of succession” from which the later movements may smoothly flow. What greater satisfaction can there be, five or ten years later, than to look upon a thriving congregation and a thriving ministry, with the consciousness that one's own ministry was, if not its cornerstone, a part of the foundation?
Please see the UUMA website for
additional information on guidelines.
For more information contact transitions @ uua.org.
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Last updated on Tuesday, April 16, 2013.
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