The Beyond Categorical Thinking program began in the late 1980s. Ministers of color; ministers who were gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender; ministers with a disability; and women ministers all had more difficult times in finding settlements in congregations than white, heterosexual, able-bodied, male ministers. The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), through its Department of Ministry (now called Ministry and Professional Leadership), created the Beyond Categorical Thinking program to improve the odds that all qualified ministers, regardless of identity, would have equal opportunities in the settlement process.
Congregations were encouraged to undertake the Beyond Categorical Thinking program during their ministerial search process. As the number of successful congregational settlements for women Unitarian Universalist ministers increased, the primary focus became issues of race, sexual orientation, and physical ability. Recently, gender identity (transgender issues) and disability issues (such as depression, lupus, attention deficit, and alcoholism/substance abuse), have surfaced more frequently as considerations. In some congregations, issues of gender, class, and age may be of particular interest.
Theological diversity is a continuing concern for congregations in the search process. While this issue is important, Beyond Categorical Thinking is not intended to address this concern. Congregations are strongly encouraged to reflect on these issues through other avenues.
***Note: over the years the anxiety over theological diversity has lessened in Unitarian Universalist congregations as we have realized that there has always been significant theological diversity among our members.
For more information contact transitions @ uua.org.
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Last updated on Tuesday, April 16, 2013.
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