New address: 24 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 02210-1409.
I know from my own experience of appearing before the Ministerial Fellowship
Committee (MFC) that it is a process cloaked in myth and mystery, not of
but growing out of our own anxiety. Seeing the Committee
evaporated many of the
myths for me, but having now sat with them
through the preparation, interviews
and discussions I hope I can dispel
some of the myths for you, too.
The Committee is truly rooting for the candidates. They are compassionate and
collegial, and will do whatever they can to help you through this
nerve-wracking experience. They know that many (most?
all?) of us are nervous to
at least some degree, and sincerely try to
create an atmosphere that will ease
the tension. They worry about the
height and placement of the pulpit and whether
fresh water is
available. They provide chalice and flowers and an altar covering
create a welcoming atmosphere. They do not scowl or sit stone-faced through
the sermon as I had heard so many times during my seminary years. The
are concerned with your well-being, just as they are tasked
with looking after
the well-being of our ministry.
The MFC would like to know that you have a good foundation in the areas of
competence, but are not looking to trip you up on minutiae. If you do
the answer to a question, you might simply say so. If you know
where you might
find the answer all the better, but repeating memorized
data is not the point of
the interview. They are far more interested in
your presence, self-awareness and
self-presentation. I therefore offer
these words of advice.
Before the interview prepare your packet carefully and know its contents. I
was surprised in my own interview by the number of questions drawn
my packet, my experiences and evaluations. This continued
to be true for the
interviews I witnessed. Know the material in your
packet, understand why you
wrote what you did and why others wrote what
they did, and be able to discuss
it. In your paperwork and during the
interview be open and honest. Know
yourself. Be able to acknowledge
your gifts and not hide from your challenges.
If you have certain
reactions to stress (like forgetting every fact you ever
can share that with the Committee. They will not fault you for
nervous, but will applaud your self-awareness. Monitor how you are feeling
during the interview and if you feel there is something the Committee
know, share it with them. Acknowledge where you are physically,
Remember you are there to show them a potential minister. The members of the
MFC work harder than just about anyone I have seen. Whatever you can do
them comfortable, as they try to make you comfortable, will
reflect well on your
ministerial skills. Remember in writing your
sermon that they are people with
their own joys and sorrows and
triumphs and struggles. Try to be aware of the
cues they present you
about whether your answers are too long, too short or just
Remember that this is a team process, not an adversarial one.
I wish you all the best in your interview. It is an important moment in our
ministerial preparation, part of the whole, not an end in itself. May
from it all that you can.
For more information contact web @ uua.org.
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Last updated on Tuesday, April 16, 2013.
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