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Hosting a Ministerial Intern
Hosting a Ministerial Intern

Q. We’d like to consider hosting a ministerial intern next year. What are the considerations in doing that?

A. About 75 congregations and community ministry sites host interns each year, says the Rev. Kim Wilson, the Unitarian Universalist Association’s (UUA's) Internship Clearinghouse Coordinator.

In an internship, a ministry student has an opportunity to practice professional skills under the guidance of an experienced minister. Each candidate for Unitarian Universalist (UU) ministry is required to complete a supervised internship. Interns have an opportunity to test their vocational calling, work in multi-staff situations, and integrate theory with practice, says Wilson. Most applicants will have completed a year of seminary before an internship. An internship is six to nine months, if fulltime, or it can be part time over two congregational years. Supervisors must be UU ministers in final fellowship with the UUA. Interns will need to engage in five areas of ministerial competence—pastoral work, prophetic outreach (social justice), teaching, practical arts (administration, working with staff, etc.), and worship—during their internships.

Internships are a way for a congregation to give back to the Association and to support ministerial development, says Wilson. It may not be appropriate to have an intern during a ministerial transition, during a capital campaign or other financial challenges, when a sabbatical is planned, when the minister supports having an intern but the congregation does not, or when there is major conflict in the congregation.

Expect to pay interns $1,300 to $1,750 per month (more is permitted) based on the size of the congregation. Congregations that are new to internships may apply for a grant of half of the recommended stipend amount. The grant application deadline is November 1. Congregations and interns choose each other from online lists. Most internships start in August or September. Congregations are encouraged to have their profiles online by the previous September or October. After March it becomes more difficult to find an intern, says Wilson. Most congregations that put their names forward do end up with interns, she says, although a few do not for geographical reasons.

For more information go to the Internship Clearinghouse or contact the mcoadministrator [at] uua [dot] org (Internship Clearinghouse Coordinator).

About the Author

  • Donald E. Skinner was the founding editor of the InterConnections newsletter for congregational leaders and a senior editor of UU World from 1998 until his retirement in 2014. He is a member of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Lenexa, Kansas.

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