This post will be irrelevant to most of the usual readers of my blog. However, in my role as President of the Unitarian Universalist Society for Community Ministries I need to address concerns that some of my parish colleagues have made on Facebook.
Unfortunately, Facebook does not readily allow me to make a detailed response to a message. Therefore, I am making it here and will link to Facebook. Feel free to read this if you find it of interest.
Dear Friends -I am the current President of UUSCM. I have been an Ordained and Fellowshipped UU Minister for 37 years. I was in fact one of the first four ministers given Final Fellowship as a community minister. I have been the Affiliated Community Minister at Countryside Church UU in Palatine, Illinois for 24 years. I am not a member of the UUMA. Allow me to clear up some of the uncertainty in this discussion.
All members of UUSCM must be members in good standing of a UU Congregation. While rare exceptions are possible, all have a reference from their parish minister in addition to other references. All must abide by the UUSCM Code of Practice which is more strict regarding confidentiality than the UUMA Code and is enforced by a national Good Offices system. There is also a strongly recommended Best Practices Guide.
We have a membership consisting of three tiers. Ordained Community Ministers, Commissioned Community Ministers (laity in explicit covenant with a UU congregation) and Lay Community Ministers (laity who feel their community work constitutes a ministry in some sense but whom are otherwise independent).
Ordained Community Ministers are ordained persons. Most are ordained in the UU Tradition and most are in Ministerial Fellowship with the UUA. If they are in a formal relationship with a UU congregation they are said to be “Affiliated."
Commissioned Community Ministers are laity who are in a formal ministerial relationship with a UU congregation. Many were once clergy in other denominations and many hold MDiv Degrees or higher. Many are employed in religious leadership positions (such as institutional chaplains).
UUSCM would prefer that you permit all of our members to participate in groups like this, however we understand that you may wish to impose other restrictions. If so, please inform us and we will see that it happens.
Understand that everyone holding current UUSCM membership must abide by our Code or face discipline. That said, there has never been a single complaint. The obvious reason is that most UUSCM members, including our laity, practice legally regulated professions with codes of confidentiality and restrictions on behavior that are much stricter than anything parish clergy experience.
I would be happy to address any concerns you may have. Please feel free to message me directly if you wish.
A final reflection as I’ve seen a lot of concern about UUA Fellowship in these comments. Please understand that to a colleague who does not wish to serve a parish, UUA Fellowship is optional. Secular institutions such as those that employ chaplains, pastoral counseling organizations or universities do not care about it. Therefore, a UUSCM member not in UUA Fellowship may have reasons for not bothering with it that are perfectly reasonable--especially given the long-standing resistance of the MFC to make reasonable adjustments in its rules where community ministers are concerned.
You have been most kind to read this long posting.