Rev. Ann Willever—March 2004
MFC Liaison to Candidates Report
As liaison to candidates at the March 2004 MFC [Ministerial Fellowship Committee] meetings, I have come full circle in my experience of and appreciation for the work of this committee!
I received a “3” my first time with the MFC and it took several months for me to heal and begin to move forward in my preparations for ministry. Following an extraordinary second internship I saw the MFC again and was awarded a category “1”. A year later I was honored to be asked to serve as liaison to candidates! My advice to current aspirants and candidates is to have faith in yourselves and in the process, even if there are some unexpected detours along the way. Life and ministry will never be all smooth sailing, and sometimes it's good to be reminded of that.
It was a privilege to read the packets of eleven candidates during the two months leading up to the interviews. As I made mental notes and jotted down questions I hoped to ask it gave me a real appreciation for the work the committee does three times each year. It is hard work, and everyone serving on the committee is a volunteer. During the interviews themselves committee members focused on being fully present for each candidate. All had done their homework and were prepared with questions based on the content of the packets. It is important to be aware of any potential “red flags” in your packet and be prepared to respond. There will also be questions on UU [Unitarian Universalist] history, UU polity, world religions, religious education, church administration, theology, and anti-racism/anti-oppression initiatives.
My experience is that the process does work. Yes, there are subjective elements to it. We are all human, after all. One of the surprises for me was that even when there was a strong difference of opinion among the committee members, what followed was genuine dialog and respect. Decisions were not rushed, but carefully discussed and deliberated. Compassion and generosity of spirit abounded on the panel with which I served.
The committee is well aware of the anxiety felt by candidates, inwardly rooting for each person to do their best. We shed tears over moving sermons, disagreed with love during deliberations, enjoyed some moments of levity and laughter, and above all took our role as a sacred responsibility.
Take a breath and take a sip of water.
Be the minister that you know yourself to be.
And if at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again.
It is blessed work that we do for the future of Unitarian Universalism.