Friday, May 22, 2009

Washitarians & Other Strange Creatures

A wise friend from Charlottesville, VA, home of the University of Virginia (founded by that quasi-Unitarian Thomas Jefferson), once told me that all university towns exist in invisible bubbles that separate them from the rest of the planet.  Now that I've lived in the Berkeley bubble for several years, I better appreciate what he said and the opportunity to get out of town every once in a while to breathe the air outside the bubble.

I am a Washitarian, i.e., a Unitarian (now UU) from Washington, DC.  There are over 20 UU congregations in the Baltimore-Washington metro area.  To be a UU at the Fairfax, VA, congregation, for example, may be different than being a UU at Arlington, All Souls, or Bull Run.

Before I moved to Berkeley, I knew what it was like being this UU in DC; Northern Virginia; Madison, WI; and Tampa, FL.  However, being UU at the Starr King School for the Ministry was honest to God culture shock.  I found this link on the subject and started checking out my symptoms.

What is the relevance of all this for examining for UU ministry?  For me, it speaks to the question of "fit."  A minister might "fit" wonderfully well at the Berkeley Fellowship and bomb at the Tampa Church.   A minister might fit the needs of a church in 1995 and bomb at that same church (of course, it wouldn't be the same church) in 2009.

How do we examine for ministry in a way that recognizes the wide range of cultures, needs, and environments in which our successful candidates will find themselves?  What are the lessons learned from successful ministers who've had to grow into positions in cultures unlike their own?

No comments:

Post a Comment