Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ministerial Credentialing: Four Questions from Wayne Arneson

What a wonderful time to catch up on backlogs.

This post is in reply to the 4 questions from Wayne Arneson, Chair of the Ministerial Fellowshipping Committee (MFC), posted here at iMinister on 12/8/09.

1. The UUMA already plays a major role in accrediting ministers. There are UUMA reps to the MFC. Other Committee members, including the chair and the senior UUA staff advisers, are UUMA members. Having the UUMA take over the process entirely is very unlikely and risks isolating the process from the various constituencies served by UU ministers.

2. There may be merit in regional credentialing. The MFC has a massive workload that could be divided by regionalization. There would be the challenge of consistency across the regions; however, that challenge isn't likely to be insurmountable and is already faced by the Regional Subcommittees on Candidacy (RSCCs). The great challenge would be to locate the resources, both human and financial, to create such regional MFCs and to develop and provide the training and evaluation needed for valid and consistent examining in all of them.

3. The broader question is the following: Should there be a substantive review/examination before a candidate is accepted for preliminary fellowship, or should a candidate automatically be accepted for preliminary fellowship when the candidate has successfully completed all the requirements (M.Div., CPE, internship, etc.)? This question revolves around whether this examination is worth the resources expended. Without going into a long argument here, let's just note that some ministers have reported that getting a "3" (do "X" and come back for a 2nd interview) helped prepare them for ministry.

To return to the narrower question, if you accept that a final substantive review/examination is needed, then it's legit to ask whether an interview should be a part of it. The interview does produce information that can assist the MFC. It's also true that the interview and the process of preparing for it could be further demystified so as to reduce the attendant anxiety and improve its validity and reliability.

4. Even Christine Robinson's proposal seems to be another form of a probationary period, a time of trial during which a determination is made whether a person receives "tenure." As long as you retain a 3-year probationary period, it makes sense to have annual reviews and a continuing mentoring process.

Finally, it's of benefit to have someone or group other than the mentor who is outside the immediate setting evaluate progress during preliminary fellowship. This does not answer the questions of whether there is too much paperwork involved in the current process and whether we can streamline and improve the reviews.

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