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Continuing Education Planning for Unitarian Universalist Ministers

Throughout our ministerial lives, these areas will call our attention and need to be continually developed and balanced:

  • The Worship Arts
  • Religious Education
  • Pastoral Care/Presence
  • Spiritual Practice
  • Congregational Life: Interpersonal
  • Congregational Life: Organizational
  • Public ministry and prophetic witness
  • Family relationships
  • Anti-oppression, anti-racism, multiculturalism
  • Continuing education planning

Although each individual ministerial path is unique, some issues tend to arise at particular points throughout ministerial formation.

Apprenticeship, 0 to 3 years

  1. Soul Work:
    1. Ego versus Soul.
    2. Knowing one’s shadow.
    3. Knowing one’s light.
    4. Personal spiritual discipline and worship life.
    5. Recognizing cultural identity and differences.
  2. Finding 1st Call:
    1. Understanding the ministry sought.
    2. Packet preparation.
    3. Candidating skills/requirements.
    4. Interviewing/negotiating.
    5. Transition from student to leader.
    6. Congregational assessment.
    7. Covenant relationship and/or community minister’s parish relationship.
    8. Transition into a new community.
    9. Ordination and installation planning.
    10. Establishing Committee on Ministry.
  3. Ministerial Identity:
    1. Belonging to UUMA, clergy groups.
    2. Professional appearance.
    3. Proper use of role, title, “the Reverend.”
    4. Dealing with the loss of being one of the folk.
    5. Finding/assessing mentor relationship.
    6. Developing continuing education plan.
  4. Learning about power and authority:
    1. Inherent/acquired/invested/delegated.
    2. Responsible use of power:
      1. Leadership—responses to and uses of authority
      2. Role as supervisor to staff/volunteers.
      3. Knowing the limits to and about the abuse of power.
    3. Co-dependency and system dynamics.
    4. Understanding confidentiality.
  5. Learning political savvy.
    1. Working with congregational/organizational leadership.
    2. Knowing a congregation’s/organization’s shadow/light.
    3. Doing social analysis of larger community (race/class/culture/religion).
  6. Understanding the Minister’s role:
    1. Negotiating expectations and ideals
    2. Assessing performance.
    3. Being true to one’s call and/or satisfying the “customer.”
  7. Embracing the Faith:
    1. Being a Unitarian Universalist, inwardly and outwardly.
    2. Being informed by history and tradition.
    3. Being informed by theology.
  8. Life care and management:
    1. Establishing family expectations and boundaries.
    2. Health care: physical, emotional, mental, relational.
    3. Creating friendships beyond work.
    4. Financial health:
      1. Debt reduction / student loans.
      2. Savings.
      3. Pension and retirement planning.
      4. Taxes.
  9. The Art of Relationships:
    1. Healthy boundaries.
    2. Many kinds of love/intimacy.
    3. Ethics regarding relationships inside and outside settlement.
    4. Active listening.
    5. How to use your speech: when to speak, when to stay silent.
    6. Relational presence.
  10. Administration:
    1. Office organization—filing.
    2. Time management.

Early Career, 3 to 7 years

As above, plus:

  1. Deepening 1st Call vs. moving to 2nd Call:
    1. Beyond the honeymoon.
    2. Negotiating leave-taking.
    3. Negotiating compensation.
    4. Sabbatical planning.
  2. Dealing with woundedness:
    1. Disenchantment.
    2. Disillusionment.
    3. Ego repair after criticism—how not to run away.
  3. Ministerial Identity:
    1. Claiming one’s own voice.
  4. Increasing conflict management skills.
  5. Renegotiating expectations.
  6. The Art of Relationships: same, as above, plus:
    1. To be in sustained relationships with communities and cultures other than one’s own.

Early Mid-Career, 7 to 20 years

As above, plus:

  1. Soul work, as above.
    1. Finding your special gift.
    2. Renewal/ keeping oneself fresh.
  2. Sharing competency:
    1. Collegial leader.
    2. Mentor/supervisor.
  3. Multi-staff relationships.
  4. Career assessment (@ +10 years).
  5. Retirement planning.
  6. Managing commitments.

Later Mid-Career, 20 to 30 years

As above, plus:

  1. Soul work, as above, plus:
    1. Aging and mortality issues.
    2. Meaning issues.
      1. Despair.
      2. Cynicism.
      3. Renewal of hope.
    3. Generativity vs. Stagnation.
    4. Moving/expanding out of little ego into larger sense of self.
    5. Becoming comfortable with ambiguity and paradox.
    6. Serving as an elder.
  2. Sabbatical Planning:
    1. Deepening vision of one’s ministry.
    2. Career assessment.
    3. Retirement Planning.

Late Career, 20 to 40+ years

As above, plus:

  1. Soul work.
    1. Stock taking.
    2. Legacy planning.
  2. Preparing to retire.
    1. Financial planning.
    2. Life-time planning: what after?
    3. Letting go of role while keeping identity.
    4. Rituals of leave-taking.

Post Career

  1. Soul work:
    1. Meaningfulness.
    2. Continuing generativity.
  2. Appropriate and clear boundaries with congregations.

Developed by Rev. Kenn Hurto (2/14/02) with revisions and additions by the Continuing Education Network for Training, Enrichment and Renewal (CENTER), the UUMA Exec. and the UUA Office of Professional Development of the Ministry and Professional Leadership Staff Group. (Edited 4/8/03.)

For more information contact ministerialdevelopment @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Tuesday, April 16, 2013.

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