Metro New York District In Care Pilot Program

In Care, In Covenant Seminarian Outreach Program

The Metro New York District's pilot program is supervised by District Executive Andrea Lerner and coordinated by the Rev. Kelly Murphy Mason. The program

  • provides mentorship, advising, support and programming to seminarians and candidates preparing for ministry who live and/or study in the district
  • deepens covenantal relationships between clergy in formation and the district’s congregations, clergy and staff offers a way for every student to have a relationship with a congregation
  • communicates to seekers and interfaith partners the vibrancy of our faith and the commitment Unitarian Universalists have to nurturing our ministry in liberal Christian seminaries such as Drew, NY Theological Seminary, Yale, Princeton and Union Theological Seminary.

Program Goals

  • To produce excellent candidates for the Unitarian Universalist ministry by offering support through discernment, formation and ministerial credentialing of students in non-Unitarian Universalist seminaries in the Metro NY District
  • To produce a body of seminarians and candidates who are connected and grounded in covenantal relationships to the Unitarian Universalist Association of congregations and the Unitarian Universalist tradition
  • To institutionalize Unitarian Universalist approaches to ministerial formation at Union Theological Seminary

Brief History

2007-2009: An Idea Takes Root

  • Julie Taylor and Andrea Lerner led the program development with area clergy.
  • The program had a willing network of ministers who were eager to support it including the Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt, Rev. Jude Geiger, Rev. Jef Gamblee, Rev. Orlanda Brugnola and Rev. Hollis Huston.
  • A course on Unitarian Universalist History alternated annually with one on Unitarian Universalist Polity.

2009-2010 Coordinator Position Added and Defined

Funds from the Panel on Theological Education were used to support a coordinator position, offer honorariums to program leaders, provide meeting hospitality, plan a significant workshop and offer partial scholarships to seminarians and candidates for the Metro New York District Annual Meeting. Julie Taylor began coordinating the program by:

  • Identifying and locating UUs in the district who were currently in seminary or in the system but had not yet met with the RSCC or MFC. 30 students were identified from five seminaries (Union Theological Seminary, Princeton, Drew, NY Theological Seminary, Meadville Lombard)
  • Establishing a database and an electronic communication system
  • Organizing a “Coffee Break for Orientation” event at Union Theological Seminary
  • Leading a winter retreat at Murray Grove, with presentations by Rev. Tracy Sprowls-Jenks & Rev. Virginia Jarocha-Ernst
  • Adapting the electronic portfolio used by the Mountain Desert District for Metro NY specific needs
  • Offering one-on-one support to seminarians both in person and by phone

When Rev. Lissa Gundlach began coordinating the program, she expanded and strengthened it by:

  • Nurturing the network of ministers and connecting more to the program including the Rev. Jill Bowden, Rev. Alison Miller, the Rev. Michael Tino and Rev. Galen Guengerich
  • Building deeper relationship with Union Theological Seminary by spending time on campus and meeting with professors and the Dean of Students
  • Developing a website as a way to communicate to seminarians
  • Meeting with students monthly
  • Assisting students in finding sites for field education and internships
Organized Programs
  • "The Real Deal about UU Ordination” led by Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt
  • “Wisdom from the Field” mentoring program sponsored by Union’s office of Field-Based Education and Office of Student Life—an introduction to Unitarian Universalism and the Union program for new Unitarian Universalist students and those who are curious about Unitarian Universalism (offered annually)
  • Worship on Storytelling about "call"
  • Rev. Michael Tino on General Assembly and Denominational Participation
  • Graduation/Closing Celebration (offered annually)


The program continued to help motivate each seminarian or ministerial student to engage or advance in the ministerial credentialing process. Seminarians were matched with district and congregational learning opportunities and ministry mentors whom can help provide guidance and accountability. Ministers from the district and UUA professional leadership offered opportunities for discernment, leadership development and ministerial formation, all within communities of Unitarian Universalists. Experiential educational programming was offered, including:

  • meeting to discuss discernment
  • lifespan and multigenerational ministry meeting with Rev. Jude Geiger
  • RSCC meeting for aspirants to ministry
  • day-long preaching retreat with the Rev. Galen Guengerich and Jan Nolte
  • Hymnal Sing Along with music directors and Rev. Richard Leonard
  • Exploring chaplaincy with CPE Residents
  • Communications and listening skills workshop with Jeff Levy-Lyons
  • The Leading Edge: A National Conference for Leaders.
  • In Care meet and greet
  • Forrest Church Memorial Lecture
  • Introduction to the Ministerial Credentialing Process
  • 2nd Year credentialing conversation
  • 3rd Year credentialing conversation
  • Holiday party
  • Graduation/ Closing celebration


Grant funding was used to continue the program. Rev. Gundlach started a Facebook group for communication and organized gatherings including:

  • “Running into a New Year: Setting Intention and Purpose"
  • Memorial service workshop
  • Fellowship and conversation with Rev. Michael Tino
  • Visit from Rev. David Pettee from the UUA
  • "Teach us to Number Our Days: Time Management and Self Care in Spiritual Work"
  • Student gathering at District Annual Meeting
  • Graduation/ Closing celebration
  • "Roots and Wings: A Survey of Unitarian Universalist History and Theology"


Grant funding was used to develop and offer:

  • Retreat on leadership development
  • Workshop orientation to fellowship process
  • "Listening to That Still, Small Voice: a Workshop on Discernment"
  • Worship and discernment circle for reflection and contemplation
  • Holiday gathering
  • Lunch with a MFC Member
  • Student meeting at General Assembly


Grant funding was used to develop and deliver:

  • A winter retreat
  • Graduation/ Closing celebration
  • Student meeting at General Assembly