Beyond Categorical Thinking (BCT)

Southern Region staff team


  •  BCT is a program that includes a three-hour workshop with the potential for the facilitator, if they are willing and the congregation desires, to preach during the congregation's Sunday service that same weekend. It is designed to promote inclusive thinking and prevent unfair discrimination during a congregation’s search for a settled minister.
  • Workshop should be requested before congregations begin receiving names of ministers applying to their position in January (ideally between September-December).
  • All BCT workshops and worship elements will be virtual through the end of the 2022 calendar year in compliance with the UUA travel ban due to COVID-19.

How to Apply

  • Search committee submits BCT Request Form (Word) to, preferably as email attachment.
  • Provide two or three possible dates; Transitions Office staff will make every effort to schedule for first choice date.
  • Submit application eight weeks in advance of dates requested so we have time to schedule facilitators.
  • Once workshop is scheduled, Transitions Office staff will send a confirmation email with facilitator names, contact information, and workshop resources.

Workshop/Worship Experience

  • Workshop presented by one or two UUA-trained facilitators, adapted to address the concerns raised by the congregation in their application, and sponsored by the ministerial search committee.
  • Facilitators lead a three-hour workshop broken into two 1.5 hour sessions either on Friday night and Saturday morning or twice on Saturday before Sunday worship. In person workshops happen on Saturday morning.
  • Facilitator may opt to preach via live-stream or recording at Sunday worship. They may lead the worship or participate beyond the sermon with readings, hymn selections, etc. Service details should be agreed upon by the search committee contact and the facilitators prior to the weekend.
  • Facilitators usually meet separately with the search committee, either as an orientation and a chance to ask questions about the workshop or as a debriefing to process what was experienced during the workshop.


  • The workshop utilizes conversations and case studies of actual events from other Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations.
  • Facilitators are selected by Transitions Office based on availability and needs expressed by the congregation in application.
  • All congregants should be invited; search committee expected to attend; church leadership and interim minister strongly encouraged to attend; other staff welcome to attend.
  • Congregation should supply someone to run technical aspects of the Zoom workshop.


  • Workshop cost is covered by the search support fee congregations have paid to UUA Congregational Life staff.
  • If a congregation elects to have the BCT workshop in person (after 2021), an additional fee based on the size of the congregation will be assessed.
  • The UUA pays the facilitator an honorarium for the workshop and reimburses facilitators for their travel expenses; includes mileage, airfare, meals, and hotel (if no home hospitality).
  • The congregation pays the facilitator an honorarium for the worship service according to UUMA standards.
  • Costs remain the same regardless of whether the workshop and worship is virtual or in person.

History of BCT

  • Program began in 1988 at request of ministers who experienced discrimination during the search process.
  • BCT has evolved over time to meet the needs of the congregations and ministers in search. Originally concerned with issues of gender, race, sexual orientation, and disability, BCT now includes gender identity, ethnicity, mental health, class, age, size, etc.
  • UUA Bylaws call on congregations to be nondiscriminatory in its practices around hiring ministers and other congregational employees.

Post-Workshop Evaluation

  • Please fill out an evaluation after your congregation's BCT workshop. Only one person from the search committee needs to do so; answers may be conglomerated from multiple search committee members.