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Rev. Amanda Poppei—March 2009

MFC Liaison to Candidates Report

Dear Candidates,

I was delighted to serve as the Candidate Liaison for the Ministerial Fellowship Committee’s (MFC’s) March meeting in Chicago this year, and I’m especially pleased to have the chance to share my experience with you.

I imagine that every Candidate Liaison says this, but I’ll say it again: the MFC is made up of incredibly dedicated, caring folks who are invested in the success of our ministry…and who want the candidates they see to succeed. If there ever was a day when the MFC “tried” to trip candidates up, I’m here to tell you that the day is gone. The MFC considered each packet carefully, chose questions that helped them to fill in the complete picture of the candidate, and was open to hearing whatever the candidate brought to them that day. They hoped for success for each candidate, and worked to celebrate every candidate’s strengths as well as identifying the growing edges.

When I was getting ready for the MFC, I remember being overwhelmed by all that went into my packet, all that I had to learn in order to prepare. So I’d like to share with you what I observed to be the most important things for each candidate to remember.

  • Give a great sermon! Your sermon starts out your interview, so choose one that you’ve given before and enjoy giving. Practice it in front of other people, ask for feedback, and spend some time crafting it.
  • Do your homework! You know there will be the basic content questions that every candidate expects—questions about Unitarian Universalist (UU) history and polity, world religions, religious education. Use the sample questions online, make flashcards, form a study group…whatever it takes so that you go to the interview knowing the basic answers. If you get a question that stumps you, share where you’d get the information. And if you get nervous and have trouble remembering information in an interview setting, share that with the MFC. They may be able to engage you around the material in another way that’s more comfortable for you. But the bottom line is, make sure you’ve prepared for the content questions.
  • Show up! The single most important thing I saw the MFC looking for was a sense of authenticity, the idea that they were talking to someone who was fully present, aware of themselves as a human being and a minister. If you’re nervous, share that. If you know you’ve got to work on some part of your ministry (and who doesn’t?), share that. The MFC isn’t looking for perfect automaton ministers…they’re looking for real people who have heard a call and are trying to follow it as best they can. Don’t be afraid to bring all of who you are to your interview.

Finally, I want to share something with candidates who are asked to return to the MFC, something I’m not sure I would have known or really believed without serving as the Candidate Liaison and being in the room after a candidate was asked to return. I was very aware, at those times, of how much the MFC hoped that the candidate would return. The MFC was excited about these candidates, excited about the ministers they were becoming, and excited to see them again after a little more time and work. There’s no question that a request to return can mess up a candidate’s plans and schedules. But I hope that I can convey, too, the hope and encouragement that’s part of that request…and the possibility that the time and work will lead to a second interview that is indeed a celebration of the fulfillment of that hope.

I wish each of you happy studying, good support systems, and a healthy dose of confidence as you navigate the MFC system, and I’m glad to be able to tell you that the MFC wishes you the same!

Rev. Amanda Poppei