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Rev. Sofía Craethnenn—December 2003

MFC Liaison to Candidates Report

The MFC [Ministerial Fellowship Committee]. Its acronym alone has often held an absolute thrall of tension and fear over many Unitarian Universalist seminary students. Somehow during our time of discernment, learning, and growth, this one group of committed UUs can grow to seem larger than life itself. It is my hope that we can work to reclaim our time with this Committee as a ritual of passage—a time when we can affirm to ourselves and those around us the depth of our calls, the passion of our commitments, and the preparedness that we bring to our ministries.

When I was invited to serve as a student liaison to the MFC this past December, I knew immediately that this would be an important experience. It mattered to me to give of my time to the work of furthering our ministry and including my voice in the conversations around our identity and growth as a people preparing our members for leadership.

I came away from my time with the MFC with a real sense of renewal—something that I had not expected when I first agreed to go. I was immediately struck by the passion of our ministerial candidates, and the intensity of the work and learning that the Committee itself undergoes. As my colleague, Rev. Lyn Cox, who also served as a liaison noted, the entirety of our time was steeped in a sense of ritual. Our day began with worship, our hearts remained filled with the best of Unitarian Universalism as each candidate renewed that sense with their preaching, and our commitment and togetherness held us through the day as we worked to further our best hopes for this movement.

One single message keeps coming through me as I think on what to offer to future candidates as they prepare for this journey. This is a time to acknowledge the power of your ministry. It would be naïve to suggest that the MFC does not hold a gate-keeping role in terms of UU [Unitarian Universalist] Ministry, yet we must remember that they are so much more than that. They serve as the crucible whose very fires change us as we pass through the liminal space conjured by this process. I was reminded, time and again, of the mysticism borne of scholarship. There is something uniquely profound in the joining of spirituality and learning. Its presence was palpable in Berkeley this past December.

I know from recent memory how anxiety producing this meeting can become. I remember how surprised I was when my interview had finished. It had gone so quickly, and had been much less terrible than I had ever imagined. It took me getting to the end to realize that this was really a culmination of a long, long process. I would encourage you to see your interview as commencing from the time you first begin writing materials that will become a part of your MFC file. In that moment of preparing self-evaluations, competencies, and essays, you are starting a conversation. Your packet lends a much broader understanding and vision of your preparation than a time-limited interview ever can. Invest in it. Share it with others. Carry it with you (figuratively) into your interview knowing that you are entering into a dialogue that has already begun.

Know also that the Ministerial Fellowship Committee has been doing a lot of training and learning about issues of Oppression, Multiculturalism, and Racial Justice. It is important to gain an understanding of these issues and how they have played out in our history, not only to satisfy the requirements of the MFC, but also to better serve as ministers within our movement. There is a real potential within the Unitarian Universalist Association to serve as a leading example, and a driving force toward radical justice making, in today's society. That work requires committed leadership that is unafraid to take on the complexity that is the oppression of today.

Learn about how issues of disability, class, race, age, gender, sexuality, culture, and education feed into one another and create dividing lines in our fellowships and in society at large. Wrestle with your own theological understandings of privilege, service, and call. In doing so you will join with people who have given their lives of service to build a better world, and you will help to bring our greatest dreams to fruition.

May our calls to service find us willing to explore the unknown, including our time with the MFC, with grace.

In the faith,