Unitarian Universalist Ministers

Reverend Vanessa Southern preaches at the Service of the Living Tradition at General Assembly 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky

Rev. Vanessa Southern preaches at General Assembly, 2013 in Louisville, KY.

Ministers are spiritual leaders of our faith communities. They help us explore life’s questions, challenge us to live out our values, and comfort us in times of suffering. Ministers teach, preach, listen and learn by leading congregations, serving as chaplains, and working for justice in the community.

Unitarian Universalist (UU) ministers are a diverse group. They include people of different genders and sexualities, and those who are single or partnered. Ministers have different racial identities and ethnicities, different abilities, and come from many ages and stages of life. Their personal beliefs are as diverse as Unitarian Universalism, and all are committed to UU values. Rather than telling others what to do or believe, ministers encourage people to make sense of the world in their own way, supporting them on their life’s journey.

Ministers serve in a variety of settings—in congregations and beyond. Ministers with the Unitarian Universalist Association are highly trained and highly capable. They go through demanding training and preparation outlined in the fellowshipping process with the UUA, and after being fellowshipped, most get ordained by a UU congregation.

Ministry in Congregations and in the Community

UU ministers serving congregations act as the spiritual and administrative leaders of their congregations. They lead worship services and give sermons, challenge and guide the congregation’s spiritual focus, provide pastoral care and counseling, conduct special services, and represent Unitarian Universalism in the community. Ministers work closely with congregations’ volunteer leaders to providing vision, direction, and day-to-day administration, often supervising staff. Some ministers specifically serve a congregation’s religious education or social justice program. All congregationally-based ministers lead in partnership with members of the congregation because the members get to choose whom they will call and settle as their minister, because of our commitment to congregational polity.

There are growing number of UU community ministers who typically serve outside of congregations. They may serve in hospitals, hospices, nursing home, universities, prisons, or military bases as chaplains. They may serve as an executive director of a non-profit organization or work as a religious community organizer. Some community ministers work as pastoral counselors or are seminary professors. All UU community ministers bring their UU values to their work, holding up the UU spirit of personal growth and social justice.

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