Becoming a UU Minister

Your Search Committee is beginning the process of reviewing Ministerial Records and conducting preliminary interviews with ministers interested in serving MSUS. This seems like a good time to share with you the requirements for becoming a UU minister. We think you will agree that any person who completes this rigorous process will be well-qualified to serve any UU congregation.

Aspirants for UU ministry are required to submit an extensive application detailing their educational and employment history. They must be sponsored by a UU congregation, which attests to their potential as a UU minister. Aspirants must also be interviewed by a UU minister in good standing, who writes a report on the aspirant’s potential for becoming a UU minister. The Aspirant must also be enrolled in a theological school and complete a criminal background check. Aspirants also agree to abide by the UU Fellowship Committee’s rules and code of conduct.

If an applicant is accepted as a Candidate for Fellowship, they must then complete an extensive Career Assessment with a body acceptable to the UUA. This assessment covers their commitment to ministry and a psychological profile. The candidate is expected to complete academic preparation in Theology, Church History, Hebrew & Christian Scriptures, World Religions, Social Theory & Social Ethics, Human Development/Family Life Education/Ministry with Youth and Young Adults, UU History & Polity, UU Religious Education, Theory, Method & Practice, Worship, Music, Aesthetics & Preaching, Pastoral Care & Counseling, Leadership & Organization, Administration & Management, Personal and/or Spiritual Development, Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression, & Multi-Culturalism, and Sexual Health, Sexual Boundaries, and Sexual Justice. Candidates for Fellowship must complete a one-year parish internship (this is in addition to the field placement our interns complete) and a clinical pastoral education (e.g., chaplaincy) internship. There is a four-page reading list, with required readings and options under a number of categories.

All of the above effort is capped by an interview with the UUA Ministerial Fellowship Committee (MFC). In scheduling this interview, the candidate must submit letters of reference from their congregational and clinical internship supervisors, theological school instructors, and lay people they have worked with. The candidate submits three 4-page essays relating to their understanding of their call to ministry, their understanding of Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression, and Multi-Culturalism, and ministry with youth. The MFC interview includes a 10-minute sermon, and questions designed to test the candidate’s competency in all areas of ministry.

Even after all of this preparation, a candidate might not be granted preliminary fellowship status. The MFC can—and does—sometimes recommend that a candidate get additional preparation or remediation of deficiencies before proceeding. The MFC can also decide that a person in unsuited to becoming a UU minister.

Clearly, becoming a fellowshipped UU minister is no small accomplishment. We can be confident that even if a minister is not a native English speaker, has a disability, or comes from a low-income background, they have the skills needed to do the job. The Search Committee’s task is to find a minister who will be a good “fit” for MSUS from a field of highly qualified applicants.