What are the requirements for a renewal of preliminary fellowship?
All applications for renewal of fellowship must contain at the very least the following:
- Parish or community ministry cover page
- Governing Board or Supervisor Evaluation
- Committee on Ministry/Ministerial Formation Team Evaluation
- Self (including a Professional Development Plan) Evaluation
- Mentor Form
- Copy of Congregational Affiliation/Covenant (community ministers)
- Should I have the evaluation filled out by the Board or my Supervisor?
- The Ministerial Fellowship Committee (MFC) accepts evaluations from either individual supervisors or governing boards provided that the evaluating party is directly involved in a supervisory relationship with the minister. Members of the Governing Board or the Supervisor should not serve on a Committee on Ministry/Ministerial Formation Team. The MFC expects evaluations from two independent evaluating bodies in addition to the minister’s self-evaluation.
- What should I include in my professional development plan?
- A professional development plan should feature a tangible outline of continuing education plans for the coming year. Examples of activities include:
- Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression/Multiculturally oriented workshops
- Readings on theology and worship arts
- Courses; a minister’s study group
- Interfaith connections
- Trainings offered by secular organizations in administration
- Classes in religious education
- The MFC takes this portion of the renewal application seriously and expects renewal candidates to be thorough in their outlines. The Committee will look to see that your professional development plan reflects the growth needs identified in your evaluation materials.
- Where can I go for advice on developing my Professional Development Plan?
- The Professional Development Office at the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is available to ministers seeking advice on continuing education opportunities. Please contact the Rev. Marta I. Valentín, Professional Development Director (MValentin@uua.org) at the UUA if you need further assistance.
- What span of time should a renewal application cover?
- The period of evaluation must cover at least 10 to 12 consecutive months of ministerial work. For parish-based ministers, this may translate to a church year (from Sept-June and not including summers). Renewal evaluations based on anything less than 10 months will not be considered for review. Your evaluation time 'clock' can only begin when you have all the requirements for ministry eligible for renewal in place. This includes beginning your meetings with your CoM/MFT and mentor.
- When should I expect to receive a decision letter regarding my application for renewal?
- Currently, decision letters are mailed out the first week of November, February, and May.
- There are special circumstances in my ministry that might affect my eligibility for renewal. What do I do?
- If you find yourself in an unusual situation that affects your ability to apply for a renewal, the first thing you should do is consult with the Professional Development Director or the Ministerial Formation Specialist on how best to proceed. In most situations, the MFC is willing to consider waivers of MFC rules on a case by case basis.
- How long can I remain in any one renewal phase?
If you are not working in ministry eligible for renewal, you will have up to three years to submit an application for renewal of fellowship before either applying for an extension or moving to Inactive Status. If you are working in ministry that is eligible for renewal of fellowship you will be expected to submit an application for renewal of fellowship ANNUALLY.
- What if I am over the one-year limit?
- Ministers in Preliminary Fellowship who are working in ministry eligible for renewal who have not submitted a renewal application within that year will be considered Out Of Compliance with MFC Rules and Policies and may have their names forwarded to the MFC for recommendation to be removed from fellowship. However, ministers do have the option of applying for an extension (which is a waiver of Rule 13C of the MFC Rules and Policies). Ministers who are granted extensions have an additional year to submit their renewals. Alternatively, ministers may apply for Inactive Status.
- What is Inactive Status?
- Ministers in Preliminary Fellowship who are not currently engaged in ministry eligible for renewal (which includes working at least ¼ time), nor seeking to be engaged in ministry in the near future, should apply for Inactive Status. Ministers in Inactive Status remain in good standing with the MFC.
- My decision letter states that my application for renewal was incomplete. Will I have to submit a completely new renewal for the next meeting?
- No. In most cases, a minister with an incomplete renewal is requested to submit only the missing materials requested by the MFC and not the entire application. The completed renewal will then automatically be submitted for consideration at the following MFC meeting.
- I am a Community Minister. What is a statement of Affiliation?
- A statement of Affiliation (formerly called Endorsement) is a covenant between the community minister and a UUA member congregation. An Affiliation should recognize the minister’s work in the community as ministry and state the congregation’s willingness to be in relationship with this minister. All community ministers in Preliminary Fellowship must be in affiliation to be considered for renewal. Ministers must renew their agreements every three years. Only ministers who are affiliated with member congregations will receive delegate status at General Assembly. For examples of covenants with congregations and information on affiliation, please see the Society for Community Ministry
- As a community minister, who should be on my Committee on Ministry (CoM)/Ministerial Formation Team (MFT)?
Committees on Ministry/Ministerial Formation Teams are expected to have representation from both the place of employment as well as the affiliated congregation. Individuals representing the community minister’s employment may be co-workers, individuals served by the agency or perhaps other clergy professionals in the field. Supervisors should not serve on CoMs/MFTs. A CoM/MFT should be composed of members familiar with the Minister’s pastoral and administrative abilities and who are knowledgeable of Unitarian Universalism.
- I am Entrepreneurial Minister. Do I follow the Community Minister’s rules?
- Ministers developing an entrepreneurial ministry should consult with the Professional Development Director first, then request approval from the MFC. Once approved, the community ministry requirements above apply, including the submission of 3 independent evaluations: self, supervisor, and committee.
- How many members should I have on my Committee on Ministry/ Ministerial Formation Team?
Depending on the size of the congregation, the MFC typically expects to see feedback from three (for very small congregations) to five members. The MFC requires the CoM/MFT to submit only one evaluation on behalf of the entire committee.
- How often should the Committee on Ministry/Ministerial Formation Team meet?
The CoM/MFT is expected to meet monthly. The MFC expects a CoM/MFT evaluation to be based on deliberations made within those meetings over the course of the period of evaluation.
- What does a Committee on Ministry/Ministerial Formation Team for a community minister do?
The CoM/MFT assists community ministers in the reflection and affirmation of their ministry, from theological introspection to conversation on ways to meet the ministerial needs of the community.
- I've just been Board Certified. Can that count?
- Yes! The MFC's Policy 13.C is: “Ministers in Preliminary Fellowship who become Board Certified Chaplains can apply to the MFC to have their certification process count as one renewal of fellowship. The Board certification certificate must be submitted to the MFC and the renewal approved by the MFC.” If you have been board certified, you may submit a copy of your certificate to our office. The MFC recognizes the rigorous process of becoming board certified and knows you often don’t have time to pursue your affiliation during that time. The MFC wants to honor you for the work you have done.
- What about Transfer Candidates?
- The MFC voted an alternative process for ministers who have transferred to the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) after being credentialed in another denomination for at least 5 years. The process includes:
- Renewal of fellowship will be based on this material submitted.
- This is not automatic. You must be approved by the Professional Development Director to be engaged in this alternative process.