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Proposal for the Redesign of Preliminary Fellowship, March 24, 2004
UUA Governance & Management, UUA Committees

Notes from the Settlement Working Group

Present at 1 pm: Stephan Papa (Chair), Carolyn Owen-Towle, Wayne Arnason (recording), and guest MFC member Sue Stukey.

We began by reviewing the feedback received from stakeholders.

Broad Goals for a Re-Designed Fellowshipping Model

We then reviewed the goals we are seeking in our re-design of preliminary fellowship. We agreed to a re-draft as follows:

  1. Encourage successful ministries.
     
  2. Affirm all forms of professional ministry.
     
  3. Affirm that all these forms of ministry are rooted in five competency areas: pastoral work, prophetic outreach, teaching, practical arts, and worship.
     
  4. Recognize specialized skills, knowledge, and competencies achieved.
     
  5. Re-design preliminary fellowship so that it encourages a process of lifelong professional discernment and development.
     
  6. Greater clarity in congregational and community expectations of ministerial skills and MFC responsibilities.
     
  7. Educate congregations and community constituencies about the ministries available to them.
     
  8. Educate ourselves on the evolving varieties of ministries and their forms.

Elements of the Re-Design as Amended

We reviewed and amended our statements of agreement informed by feedback from various stakeholders and our own discussions:

  1. The granting of preliminary fellowship will be for “preliminary fellowship in UU ministry” rather than for preliminary fellowship in a category of ministry.
     
  2. The MFC will strive to ensure competence in the five competency areas of ministry defined by the UUMA Task Force March 2003 (pastoral, prophetic, teaching, practical arts, and worship) for all ministers receiving preliminary fellowship.
     
  3. In any re-design, the MFC will retain control of Fellowshipping and the process for recognition of specialization.
     
  4. Just as we plan to award Preliminary Fellowship without requiring declaration of a specialty, we will also award Final Fellowship in UU Ministry separated (change separated to as distinct) from specialty recognition.
     
  5. All ministers in preliminary fellowship must develop a self-designed program for achieving competence in a specialty in consultation with the (current preliminary fellowship mentor) mentor currently required during preliminary fellowship.
     
  6. The MFC has responsibility for setting minimum parameters for such plans for achieving competence in a specialty.

(We acknowledged that several stakeholders have pointed to this affirmation #6 in their feedback, and encouraged us to flesh this out before presenting our work to the UUA board for approval. The minimum parameters for a continuing education plan that would qualify for recognition in a specialty need to be defined. This initial work needs to be done by members of the Settlement Task Force representing the three current categories. They will need to be in touch with each other to assure some consistency in their work. Their drafts should be reviewed and be in formed by feedback from the professional organizations and the theological schools. The full MFC would review their drafts in September 04.

We envisioned Jim Zacharias working on the community ministry parameters, Wayne Arnason working on the parish minister parameters, and Jory Agate working on the RE ministry parameters.)

  1. The process for renewals of preliminary fellowship will remain essentially the same. It includes a self-evaluation, a review of progress by the minister’s employer and/or review committee, and the MFC’s own review of the evaluations received. We envision re-designing the paperwork requirements to reflect the five areas of ministerial competence cited above, including a request for an update on the self-designed specialty recognition continuing education plan.

(We discussed whether the staff should do the re-design of the paperwork, and leaned towards asking them if they would.)

During the last part of the discussion, we were joined by Jim Zacharias, Jory Agate, Betty Bobo Seiden, Michele Bentley, and David Hubner.

  1. We recognize that each of our traditional categories of specialty has possibilities for new more focused specialty definitions (such as music, campus, youth, chaplaincy, family, interim, administrative, advocacy/organizing ministries…). We wish to explore these possibilities over time, assisted by self-developed continuing education plans our ministers in preliminary fellowship create. We imagine that ministers could be preparing for more than one specialty recognition at the same time, with the consent and support of their mentor and ultimately a Review Panel. Our hope is that ministers would want to add additional specialty recognitions beyond their first one over the course of a ministerial career as part of their lifelong continuing education. (come back to philosophical discussion of hybrid/mixed ministry specialty)
     
  2. Recognition in a specialty shall be ascertained: (a) through the minister’s completion of their self-designed continuing education program, and (b) second renewal of preliminary fellowship as a UU minister and (c) the successful completion of an evaluative review of their knowledge, skills and performance by a Specialties Review Panel.

    The MFC shall recruit a pool of people for each specialty eligible to serve on Specialties Review Panels. The pools could include UU ministers in final fellowship, lay persons with expertise in certain areas of specialty, or professionals outside the UUA with suitable expertise. The minister shall choose three people from among the Panelists available to serve their own individual Review Panel. The minister may nominate no more than one person from outside the pool. This person would need approval from the Professional Development Director at the UUA’s MPL Staff Group. Two members of the panel must be Unitarian Universalists. At least one of these must be a minister in final fellowship.

    The responsibility of the Review Panel is to read the minister’s paperwork documenting the completion of their continuing education plan, as well as a current perspective on performance from the minister’s employer and COM. and to decide if any further work or evaluation process should be required. If so, the Review Panel would be responsible for recommending that further work or preparing that evaluation process. The Review Panel finally decides whether the minister should now be recommended for recognition in the specialty. The MFC receives recommendations from Review Panels regarding ministers who shall be recognized in a specialty. The MFC shall review these recommendations and has the authority to grant the specialty recognition.

    The MFC could also grant specialty recognitions directly where standards of competence required in certain specialized ministries which have their own professional education and review processes have clearly been attained, or where previous career work demonstrates competence in the specialty, e.g. chaplains recognized by the AAPC. Ministers who have achieved such professional recognitions can apply directly to the MFC’s Settlement Working Group for specialty recognition.

(We discussed the need for a modest application/information form for prospective Specialty Review Panel members. Recruitment would include a letter of invitation praising the skills of the minister or lay person being invited. Stefan and Betty were asked to work on recruitment ideas and possibilities.)

  1. During Preliminary Fellowship, a minister is required to prepare a continuing education plan for recognition in a specialty. If such a plan is not prepared, final fellowship may be withheld. If a minister is not recommended for recognition in a specialty within seven years after preliminary fellowship is granted, the minister shall be asked to explain the circumstances that have prevented completion of the specialty requirement to the MFC. The MFC may require an interview, and may review the Fellowship status of the minister as a consequence of failing to pursue specialty recognition.
     
  2. Ministers who are in preliminary fellowship or who hold final fellowship in a category of ministry at the time this new system is implemented shall be recognized as having achieved that specialty. Ministers in final fellowship as of the beginning of this new system of preliminary fellowship and specialty recognition are encouraged to consider entering the specialty recognition process if they wish to seek recognition in a new one.