Monday, December 28, 2009

Regionalization, Baffling Information, & Independent Review

Thanks to Christine Robinson at iMinister for this continuing dialogue on ministerial credentialing. Her latest post on the subject, to which this one is in reply, is here.

Regionalization - The fact that ministers often move among regions is not a significant objection to the establishment of 4 regional MFCs to match the 4 regional RSCCs. It does speak to the need to assure consistency and equity among regional RSCCs, as there needs to be consistency and equity between MFC panels now.

My experience with process innovation suggests that vertical integration--reviewing the record from application for aspirant status to final fellowship--is likely to be more important than horizontal integration--a single body reviewing all ministers in a step on the path, e.g., preliminary fellowship. One of the most valuable things that the MFC now does is look at multiple evaluations across time. When this is done, items that may have seemed minor in a single evaluation become magnified when they are repeated and unaddressed.

I do wholeheartedly agree that non-MFC individuals and groups can help the RSCCs and the MFC. For example, the drafting of standards and evaluation methods and studies of MFC processes and results can be performed outside of the MFC. In fact, the UUA Board recently charged a non-MFC work group to look at all UU credentialing.

Baffling Information - Christine rightfully points to the "baffling information" (or the baffling lack of information!) that sometimes accompanies a "3" from the MFC or a "yellow light" or "red light" from a RSCC. Christine tells us what happened to her 30 years ago. Today, David Pettee and others are ready to help "decode" these baffling comments. While it would be ideal for the MFC and RSCCs to provide more information in writing, this may not happen until they are given further resources.

Maybe another question might be helpful: "When is it appropriate to require additional preparation by a candidate before the candidate is allowed into preliminary fellowship?" As we strengthen the common and public understanding of the answer to that question, greater clarity and detail in the information provided to aspirants and candidates is likely to result.

Independent Review - Ah, it is terrible to waste a good miscommunication. I was not recommending a preliminary fellowship review outside the MFC; I was lauding the merits of having the annual MFC review because it is in addition to those provided by individuals and committees who work directly with the minister. The danger of direct observation is that the observers sometimes become so close to the minister that they become unwisely biased in their evaluations. However, I'm glad for the happy accident of the fuzziness of my recommendation because there is wisdom in Christine's recommendations that others be involved in the review process and that the mentoring process be strengthened.


  1. Why have 4 regional RSCC's and 4 regional MFC's? Why not have a single committee in each region that meets with aspirants/candidates multiple times during their formation, and decides (after say, at least thee separate meetings with that aspirant/candidate) when they are ready for preliminary fellowship?

    That way the committee and the aspirant/candidate are "in relationship"... something that I remember someone saying was an important part of our faith once...

    Just a thought...

    Yours in faith,


  2. David,

    Thanks for your thought. It's an interesting option.

    An advantage of a single regional committee would be the continuity of being "in relationship." Two disadvantages that immediately come to mind are the increased workload for the single committee and not having fresh sets of eyes involved when the candidate is considered for preliminary fellowship (i.e., the temptation to affirm an earlier decision).

    In faith,