I emerge from the weekend with a newfound sense of appreciation and awe at
the amount of work the committee takes on and the dedication in which it is
performed, while still maintaining room for collegiality and fun. The commitment
to be on the committee is profound beyond what I imagine many are aware.
I was heartened throughout the weekend that such pains are taken to discern
each candidate's preparation and to ascertain a proper balance between guidance
and evaluation. I think most candidates simply see the work of the Ministerial Fellowship Committee (MFC) as
strictly one of evaluation.
Dianne Arakawa's morning worship's were particularly inspiring to me from one
woman of color to another. Sharing the last twenty years of her ministry as I
embark on what will probably be the only twenty years of my own ministry gave me
much to reflect on and to appreciate about those persons of color who have made
the way for me.
In spite of the fact that it has only be a year since I saw the MFC, I found
myself having to be present to what the candidate was feeling, reflecting on how
I felt last year. What I wish for the ministers on the committee is to never
lose sight of where the candidate is emotionally as it performs the work of
evaluation and guidance. I found it very easy to be wrapped up in what my task
was, and had to re-presence what the candidate might be feeling in that moment
given the "aura" (based on reality or not), that the MFC carries.
I was wholly heartened by the extent to which the committee brought forth the
learnings of their anti-racism/anti-oppression workshop the day before their
work began. It was a relief not to feel like I had to carry the ball by myself,
or with the one other person of color on my panel. I do encourage a deepening of
what is required of candidates so that they are able to articulate what is
systemic analysis, white privilege, and a minister's responsibility to one's
self as a minister and to the church he/she is serving. It was encouraging to
see that the AR/AO work was being implemented in the MFC process in terms of
re-assessing the reading list and competencies and the new possibility of
requiring an AR/AO essay in the packet.
I was surprised that more attention was not paid to the recommendations
candidates had been given by the RSCC. Prior to seeing the MFC any candidate who
has seen the RSCC is encouraged to heed the advice because "the MFC will ask you
about it." It would be a great disservice to the candidates if this practice
continued because eventually it would mean that the RSCC would have no weight
and truly be seen as just another hoop.
I had selected which panel to participate on for various reasons but mostly
because the panel I chose had only one person of color while the other one had
three. When our panel came across a particularly troubling candidate, I was
especially grateful that I had had the forethought to have done so. My hope is
that in the future there will be awareness of this detail and that it becomes a
requirement to have at least two people of color on each panel.
To have participated in this process helped ground me as a minister. After a
difficult search process last year I was left doubting my ministerial gifts and
learned that working with the MFC and seeing all the different types of
ministers coming through enabled me to see that I am not a typical UU minister
culturally, but cut of the same cloth theologically.
And lastly, it gave me great pleasure to be able to welcome a new Latina
minister in Spanish! I had not anticipated this possibility and was particularly
proud when one of the panel members suggested she enter her sermon in the Borden
contest! Her main message: the future matters to us, still lives with me.
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Last updated on Tuesday, April 16, 2013.
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