A Renewed Ministry in 2018
By Rev. Catie Scudera, Published on December 5, 2017
I’m delighted to announce that after three years of copious paperwork submitted to our denomination by myself, the Parish Committee, and the Committee on Ministry, I received “final fellowship” from the Unitarian Universalist Association in November. Each year, three detailed reports, a letter from my “UUA mentor,” and a specific list of professional learning goals went to the UUA’s Ministerial Fellowship Committee for approval. It is a relief and an honor to have completed the process from “preliminary” to “final” fellowship as quickly as is possible for new ministers.
For members and friends of First Parish who aren’t serving on the Parish Committee or Committee on Ministry, my final fellowship status will not have a noticeable impact this year. I will continue to develop annual learning goals, attend professional development events, and have my ministry evaluated by the Committee on Ministry and Parish Committee — most of which happens behind the scenes of the congregation at large. For those of you planning to attend the annual national UU conference, General Assembly, in Kansas City this June, I will participate in the Thursday evening Service of the Living Tradition — which essentially means a photo of me will go up on the big screens and I’ll process across the big stage graduation-style. I would, of course, appreciate a cheering squad, and encourage First Parishioners to attend General Assembly this year! However, beyond this, my ministry at First Parish this year will remain more or less the same.
… However! My final fellowship status does reopen one important congregational ministry: First Parish’s ability to hire an intern minister who is in the ordination process.
Before qualifying for preliminary fellowship and ordination, all ministers-in-process are required by the UUA to complete one year of full-time or two years of half-time ministry in a congregational, chaplaincy, or faith-based non-profit setting. As some of you will remember, First Parish began a “teaching ministry” under the skilled guidance and enthusiasm of our last settled minister, Rev. John Buehrens. We’ve been blessed to have had Rev. Thom Belote, Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh, Rev. Maria Cristina Vlassidis Burgoa, Rev. Lucas Hergert, Rev. Molly Housh Gordon, and Rev. Christian Schmidt serve our congregation as student ministers. These ministers-in-process led worship, offered pastoral care, guided our senior youth group, facilitated adult education opportunities, and launched new programming at our congregation — and now are each beloved and respected ministers in our denomination. They gave invaluable service and leadership in our parish, and future intern ministers will do the same.
Intern ministers must be supervised by a minister in final fellowship status, so we have been unable to recruit an intern minister to our congregation — until now!
With the blessing of the Parish Committee, the Committee on Ministry and I are working to submit our congregation to the UUA’s “internship clearinghouse” website (where potential intern ministers look for internship sites) and to create an interview process for prospective interns. We hope to have an intern minister selected by spring 2018, and for that intern to serve our congregation half-time for two years beginning in August 2018.
Of course, First Parish needs three things (in addition to a final fellowshipped senior minister!) to successfully host a teaching ministry:
- We need a congregation-wide commitment to both respect an intern minister in our church community and support that intern minister in their ministerial growth, knowing they will come to us with many learning goals.
- We need a caring and discerning Intern Committee to help interview, select, and then support an intern minister. The Committee on Ministry is in the beginning stages of recruitment for that Committee of five persons now.
- And, we need money to fairly compensate this intern. The current recommended salary for a half-time intern minister is about $10,000 a year, with another $1,000 in professional expenses (allowing them to attend professional development workshops and General Assembly). As our Budget Drive kicks off in late January, please remember in your pledge our need to add a salary for an intern minister!
I know that an intern minister would bring great contributions to our faith community, and that our church is a healthy, dynamic environment for an intern to grow into their ministerial authority and gifts. I hope all of you reading this are as excited about this opportunity as I am!