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Rev. Carie Johnsen—Spring 2011

MFC Liaison to Candidates Report

Imagine this…

A candidate walks into a room and a circle of Unitarian Universalists witness said candidate engaging in his/her ministry with passion and power (the good kind). The candidate brings about a poetic exchange that captures the hearts of those present. This circle of UU's experience the candidate’s call to ministry in a very palpable and tangible way. The candidate’s sense of their ministry is present and alive. The candidate embodies their ministerial presence and moves people from the inside out to celebrate and welcome them into the fellowship.

Now imagine that is you!!!

As a candidate you don’t need to come in with complete knowledge but you do need to come in with the basics of Unitarian Universalism. The content questions are important but what is more important is the ministerial presence you bring into the room.

Equally, you are not expected to enter into the room completely formed in your ministry. The panel will be looking to see an approachable, engaged, humble, authentic, informed and growing minister. The goal is to let the panel see you as a minister. They are very aware that as a candidate you are still in the throes of ministerial formation and will be for several years to come, some may say for a lifetime.

Here are some of my words of encouragement to candidates approaching their meeting:

  • Relax and enjoy this conversation. Shine a light on you and your ministry.
  • Enter the process with an intention to be a minister engaged in her/his ministry with a panel of
    Unitarian Universalists.
  • Enter this day, this hour in time, as a meaningful conversation with your future colleagues and
    potential congregants about your call to ministry.
  • Enter the room and claim your pulpit, bring with you into this moment an embodied ministry.
  • Let others see your strength and integrity, your warmth and compassion.
  • Your sermon—speak about what you know, let your ministry shine through; keep it simple, yet
  • Content questions are important but if you miss a few don’t worry; I fumbled all over my history
  • Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know but I can tell you where I will find the answer.”
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the committee to reframe or clarify the question; it is equally appropriate to say, “I’m not sure what you are asking or trying to get at.”
  • Be prepared to enter into dialogue on issues of power and privilege included knowledge of where you are on the spectrum. Be willing to share experiences where you abused your power and privilege.
  • BE YOU!! Let them see you!!

The panel you will present to is warm and welcoming. They work hard to create a process that reduces the stress and puts the candidate at ease. They are a group of Unitarian Universalist ministers and congregants who are committed to building a denomination of ministerial leaders. They take their charge very seriously. They are very thoughtful and deliberative in their discussions and their decisions. They honor each candidate without ever comparing or contrasting them to the previous candidate. They have deep respect for the years of work and the demands of the long process you have undertaken to arrive at this moment in the process of becoming a minister.

In closing, I would add, don’t be afraid to let your ministry capture the hearts of the panel. They want to be dazzled by your ministry. Dazzle and wow them!