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Darrick Jackson—September 2008

MFC Liaison to Candidates Report

Dear Candidates for Ministry,

I remember well my time preparing for the MFC [Ministerial Fellowship Committee], stressing about what I did know or didn’t know, voraciously devouring any UU [Unitarian Universalist] knowledge that I could get my hands on. And then came The Day, that moment that I had spent years waiting for. And in one hour, it was all over. I had passed, deemed competent to enter into preliminary fellowship. Was all that stress and anxiety really worth it?

Sitting with the MFC this past September further confirmed my thinking. I was stressing about the wrong thing. The MFC is not concerned with whether you are the expert in every subject. Very few ministers are. They are looking to see that you have enough knowledge in each area to be competent as a minister. But most importantly, they are looking to see you present yourself as a minister. And not your interpretation of what you think the MFC is looking for in a minister. They want to see your authentic ministerial presence.  And that means that we need to know ourselves.

So what does this mean for you, the candidate? Know your packet. All questions begin from reading your packet. If you say that something is important to you, be prepared to talk about it. If the RSCC makes a recommendation or a comment about something, make sure you are prepared to address it. Anything in your packet is a source for questions. Of course, some questions are not going to be generated by your packet, so be prepared to answer a history, theology, polity, religious education, or Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression/Multiculturalism question that might seem to come from nowhere.

It may also be helpful to dispel some myths that I heard as a candidate.

  • One person on your panel is designated to be adversarial to you. That is completely not true. Everyone on the panel is looking to see you as you are, not make you suffer.
  • The panel decides on a number beforehand, and the interview decides if you keep it or not. There is no discussion on numbers beforehand. The only thing the panel decides is what are the best questions to ask. The number is completely decided after the interview.
  • The panel tries to have one question that you should not know the answer to, in order to see how you answer when you don’t know. The purpose of the questioning is for you to respond to things that arise from your packet, and to gauge your knowledge of the different competencies. It is not helpful to try to stump you.

The most important thing to know is that the MFC really wants you to succeed. But they also must hold you accountable to a standard of competency for ministry. It is very hard for the committee to not give a one or a two. But it does not do you, your ministry, and our denomination any favors by passing through someone who is not ready. It is out of love and care that all decisions are made.

Know that the MFC is not your enemy; they are here to help you be the best minister that you can be. Come before the committee as a minister, and they will notice. Remember that you do not have to be expert in all subjects; you need to be knowledgeable in all subjects. And finally, don’t forget to breathe.


Darrick Jackson