Benefits of Being a Commissioned Lay Minister

Today's Blog is written by Lori Mirkin-McGee, CLM

A CLL performs a wedding.

Teri Cornell, a CLM, performs a wedding.

I entered the Commissioned Lay Ministry program in 2014 when I became an empty-nester. I needed something to do with my time once my daughters and infant granddaughter moved out on their own. I had been thinking of applying to the program for years, but had never taken the time to actually do it. So, in 2014 I applied and was accepted. I completed the program in two years, and I was commissioned in 2016 by my home congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent, Ohio.

Since that time, I have been afforded many new and exciting opportunities. I have led more services than I could count at my church. During a transition period between settled ministers, we did not have a full-time minister for about 11 months. Our congregation had two CLMs at the time. We split the most important duties: pastoral care and worship services. I chaired our Worship Arts Committee, and I’m proud to say that our church worked hard to provide meaningful worship experiences even without a minister’s presence. (Additionally, our other CLM and the Pastoral Care Team provided continuous pastoral care to our congregation.) Now that we have a settled minister again, I work closely with him to lead services, cover pastoral care, and help with any other tasks that may arise.

Being a CLM has also allowed me to officiate at several weddings, which I consider both an honor and a privilege. It is such a joy being able to join two people together in love and marriage. Our denomination was among the first to offer same-sex weddings in 2015 when marriage equality became the law of the land. Of the weddings I’ve officiated, approximately half has been to same-sex couples.

Being a UU in general means serving on committees. Over the years, I’ve served on many, but my favorite so far has been working on the CLM Council. We are the body that admits CLM candidates to the program and approves those candidates for commissioning. We have been working to bring this program to other areas of the U.S. so that more UU congregations can experience the benefits of having CLMs in their churches. We also plan semi-annual retreats for CLMs and mentors for both community building and continued education.

This is just a brief snapshot of what it means to be a CLM. I have gained so much from being in the program. I have had amazing experiences and met new people. I have grown both personally and professionally. I originally joined the program to fill a gap in my life, and now I can’t imagine my life any other way. It truly is a life-changing program.

Learn more about the Central East Region Commissioned Lay Ministry Program on our website.