As a congregation we engage in many community ministries: Hotel de Zink, the Opportunity Center, Ripples, PIA, and many others. Community ministers live a religious life in both the secular and faith communities; they can act as a bridge for our congregations to commit themselves to something bigger than ourselves. Our relationship with our Community Ministers is a part of that commitment to the world beyond our congregation.
The UUCPA Committee on Ministry has created and the Board of Trustees has approved a policy that guides relationships with Community Ministers endorsed or affiliated
In our tradition no minister can be ordained without a relationship with and acknowledgement of a congregation. This is an essential distinction between faithful people doing work that is ministry with a small ‘m’ — of whom there are many, and whose work is essential in the world — and people who decide to pursue ordained ministry in our tradition.1 When the Unitarian Universalist Association was created in 1961, it developed a formal structure for the preparation of ministers. It now admits to Fellowship professional ministers in three not-so-separate categories. Parish Ministers and Ministers of Religious Education serve individual societies, fellowships, and churches. Community Ministry is any ministry that takes place in the community beyond the four walls of the church.
Community Ministers serve hospitals, hospices, college campuses, prisons, legislative offices, and the military. They focus on issues such as AIDS, death with dignity, violence against women and children, the environment, and peace. Community Ministers were 10% of practicing UU ministers in the year 2000. To remain in good standing with the UUA, they are required to maintain a formal relationship with an individual congregation; this relationship is called Endorsement. This endorsement holds the Community Minister accountable to Unitarian Universalism as our ambassador to the larger world, but it also holds the congregation accountable to the individual endorsed as a Community Minister. The Community Minister works in isolation among members of many different faith traditions and those of no faith tradition. The endorsing congregation provides the minister with a kind of sanctuary, the support of a community which speaks the same spiritual language.
1 Rev. Parisa Parsa, “What Kind of Minister Are You?,” a sermon for the ordination of Caitlin Margaret O’Brien, First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, MA. March 2, 2003.