Are you a 'real' minister?
I am an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister, in final fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association located in Boston, Massachusetts. I was called unanimously to the settled ministry of Shoreline Unitarian Universalist Society in Madison, CT in 2016.
That means that, in addition to a Master's in Clinical Psychology, I completed a second post-graduate degree, a Master's in Divinity (M.Div.)at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, Illinois in 2002. An M.Div. takes about four years to complete if you go full time. Mine took seven years, and also included a two year internship with the UU Clara Barton District doing ministry at a regional and district level as well as a chaplaincy internship at Hartford Hospital in the Summer of 2000. I was initially credentialed by my denomination (preliminary fellowship) in 2002 after undergoing a rigorous orals process, and thereafter ordained by the Universalist Church in West Hartford, CT, and the Unitarian Universalist Society: East in Manchester, CT in 2003. I received final fellowship as a Unitarian Univeralist minister in April 2006, after undergoing a three year review process. I have served as the Affiliate Community Minister at Unitarian Universalist Society: East in Manchester, CT (2003–2011), the Consulting Parish Minister at All Souls UU Church in Greenfield, MA (2007–2011), the Called & Settled Parish Minister at Mattatuck UU Society in Woodbury, CT (2008–2016).
I am also credentialed by the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities as a Pastoral Care Giver to people with developmental disabilities.
Between June 2009–2011, I served on the Guidelines & Ethics Review Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association, the international professional organization for Unitarian Universalist ministers.
So, yes, I am a 'real' minister. ;-)
What denomination do you belong to?
Unitarian Universalism (http://www.UUA.org)
What is Unitarian Universalism?
Unitarian Universalist Principles & Purposes:
We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote:
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- Justice, equity and compassion in human relations—Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
- Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
The living tradition which we share draws from many sources:
- Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
- Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
- Wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
- Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
- Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
- Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature;
- Grateful for the religious pluralism which enriches and ennobles our faith, we are inspired to deepen our understanding and expand our vision. As free congregations we enter into this covenant, promising to one another our mutual trust and support.
One of our ministers, David O. Rankin, described our beliefs in ten statements. They are:
- We believe in the freedom of religious expression. All individuals should be encouraged to develop their own personal theology, and to present openly their religious opinions without fear of censure or reprisal.
- We believe in the toleration of religious ideas. All religions, in every age and culture, possess not only an intrinsic merit, but also a potential value for those who have learned the art of listening.
- We believe in the authority of reason and conscience. The ultimate arbiter in religion is not a church, or a document, or an official, but the personal choice and decision of the individual.
- We believe in the never-ending search for Truth. If the mind and heart are truly free and open, the revelations which appear to the human spirit are infinitely numerous, eternally fruitful, and wondrously exciting.
- We believe in the unity of experience. There is no fundamental conflict between faith and knowledge, religion and the world, the sacred and the secular, since they all have their source in the same reality.
- We believe in the worth and dignity of each human being. All people on earth have an equal claim to life, liberty and justice-and no idea, ideal or philosophy is superior to a single human life.
- We believe in the ethical application of religion. Good works are the natural products of a good faith, the evidence of an inner grace that finds completion in social and community involvement.
- We believe in the motive force of love. The governing principle in human relationships is the principle of love, which always seeks the welfare of others and never seeks to hurt or destroy.
- We believe in the necessity of the democratic process. Records are open to scrutiny, elections are open to members, and ideas are open to criticism-so that people might govern themselves.
- We believe in the importance of a religious community. The validation of experience requires the confirmation of peers, who provide a critical platform along with a network of mutual support.