8 The Unitarian Universalist Minister

How are UU ministers educated?

To be an accredited UU minister, a man or woman first must be approved by the UUA's Ministerial Fellowship Committee. This is the body which appraises the credentials and abilities of prospective ministers. A candidate must have earned an undergraduate degree and a Master of Divinity degree or higher degree from an accredited theological seminary.

Specific ministerial training is offered at Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, California; Meadeville Lombard Theological School in Chicago; and the Harvard Divinity School. (Harvard Divinity School educates ministers from a number of other denominations as well.) However, a degree from any accredited theological school is acceptable, provided the candidate has specific education in Unitarian Universalism.

How do UU churches choose a minister?

When a vacancy occurs, the local church, fellowship or society appoints a Search Committee of church members. The role of the UUA at this point is to provide a list of approved prospective ministers to the Search Committee, which then screens, interviews and makes its recommendation to the membership, a procedure which usually takes a year. At a special meeting the church members hear the report of the Search Committee and vote to either accept or reject the recommendation of the Search Committee.

Are there UU ministers who have entered the ministry from a non-Christian background?

Yes. They come from Christian denominations, Judaism and other faiths. While no statistics are available on the religious and philosophical backgrounds of our ministers, most have come from the Christian tradition.

What role does the minister play?

Like leaders in other religions, the minister is a teacher, guide, preacher, counselor and administrator. The minister is expected to speak the truth as he or she has come to know it, and to share that with the congregation with the understanding that members are to make up their own minds on the subject at hand.

Do ministers of different churches espouse different beliefs?

Yes, freedom of belief extends to our ministers as it does to each member. Beyond his individual beliefs, however, the minister provides as best he can, an open and accepting attitude for persons with beliefs different than his.

Can a woman be a minister in the UU church?

Yes. As a matter of fact, the Universalist Church of America was the first religion to sanction a woman minister, Olympia Brown who was ordained in 1863.

What percentage of UU ministers currently employed in local churches are women?

About 25 percent, the highest number of any established denomination.

What percentage of UU ministers are women?

Including those in training, almost half the ministers in the Unitarian Universalist Association are women.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter