Report for The Religious Leader, 2003

The Ministerial Fellowship Committee met in Boston from September 24 through September 28, 2003. Committee members added a day to their meeting time to participate in a day devoted to anti-racism anti-oppression training, facilitated by Paula Cole Jones, a consultant with the UUA Congregational Services Staff Group, and the Rev. Josh Pawelek, who serves the Unitarian Universalist Society of East Manchester, CT as parish minister. As a result of this very productive day, the committee developed a series of plans and "next steps," some of which were implemented during the meeting following, and others which are under development. One such implementation was the use of a process observer, who listened for language, decisions, etc., which reflect anti-racism and anti-oppression issues, and reported on those at the end of the meeting on Sunday afternoon.

We were joined by Marta Valentin and Jeanne Lloyd, liaisons to candidates and recently fellowshipped ministers, who participated in interviews and business. As always, their contributions were greatly appreciated.

Dianne Arakawa presented daily morning inspirations, reflecting on her UU ministry of over twenty years and spoke through the lens of the first ordained Asian woman of any denomination in the country and as one of the first two women of color ministers in our Association.

Over the course of the two and a half days of interviews, two panels met with a total of twenty-five candidates. Nineteen of those received Category I decisions, while the others were given decisions reflecting various degrees of recommendations.

As part of our business meeting, we welcomed the Rev. Dr. Stephen Ott, Director of the Center for Career Development and Ministry, for an hour of exchange of information and commentary. Many students, particularly in the New England region, obtain their career assessments at this center.

The three Working Groups (Candidacy, Settlement and Process) reported on projects and recommendations. The committee adopted the following policy:

All candidates who wish to request a waiver of the MFC requirements must arrange to have the waiver request considered at a meeting held in advance of their MFC interview. It is the intention of this policy that the committee will not be considering waivers at the same meeting that the candidate appears for an interview.

Another adopted policy reflects discussion around the "open UUA" discussion. "In the interest of improved communication and service to our congregations and at the discretion of the chair, portions of the business meeting will be open to observers for consistent and published periods of time." Although details have not been decided upon at this writing, it is expected that a portion of the December business meeting will be open to observers, and that the timing and agenda of the open portion will be posted on the MFC web site. I plan to post this information by November 3.

The Report of the UUMA Task Force on Categories, which is available on the UUMA website, was discussed and appreciation extended to Carolyn Owen-Towle, who served as MFC liaison to that group, as well as David Pettee, another TF member, for the quality and usefulness of recommendations. A sub-group of the MFC will meet a day early in Berkeley to continue work on an implementation plan.

Twenty-nine ministers were voted first renewal of preliminary fellowship, 21 received second renewals, and eleven were granted third and final renewals.

The MFC will meet in Berkeley, CA, December 3-7, 2003. Any questions or comments may be addressed to

Phyllis Daniel, Chair