Saturday, May 9, 2009

Of Guilds, Gatekeepers, and Paraprofessionals

The Ministerial Fellowshipping Committee (MFC) plays the very important role of gatekeeper of fellowshipping as a UU minister. We want it to exclude those not ready for ministry and include those who are.

No gatekeeping function is perfect. However, the greater the validity (measuring what you intend to measure) and reliability (consistency in measurement) of your examination the less likely you are to exclude those who are ready and include those who are not.

Examining can be a delicate balancing act. You want to assure the competency of practitioners for the safety and well-being of those whom they will serve. Yet there is a temptation to restrain trade/oppress/exclude as may be seen in this Wikipedia article on guilds.

Examining for the professions should include both professionals and nonprofessionals as a way of fostering professionalism and of assuring that the profession remains responsive to those whom it serves. The mixture of clergy and laity on the MFC reflects this wisdom.

Over at the UUA View from Berkeley, UUA Trustee Linda Laskowski expresses concern about the anticipated turnover in UU ministry of 50% during the next 10 years. She writes the following:

Add to that the calling many lay leaders feel for ministry, especially in their later years. Is devoting yourself to several years of seminary the only option to satisfy this deep longing?
The answer is clearly "no." Some UU congregations have wonderful worship associate programs. At least one, the UU Congregation of Fairfax, VA, has an outstanding lay pastoral care program developed by a psychiatrist and a hospice nurse. You don't need to be an ordained minister to have a ministry any more than you need to be a physician to perform the duties of a nurse practitioner. Let's go for a both/and solution that recognizes the need for professional clergy and lay ministry.

1 comment:

  1. I'm afraid that the next generation of folks in their "older years" are not going to be able to afford even thinking about leaving their established (paying) careers for entry-level jobs in ministry, even if Seminary was (as it used to be) free. The entry of second career folks into ministry was a phenomena of boom times, early retirements, and flush social security trust funds. If we want a new generation of ministers, we're going to have to motivate our youth and young adults.