The Unitarian Universalist 
Society for Community Ministries
 

Commissioned Ministry: FAQ

What does “Commissioned Community Ministry” mean?


Is the idea of lay community ministers a new one?


How does this commissioning differ from the fellowshipping of clergy?


Do other religions recognize Lay Ministers?


What does “Commissioned Community Ministry” mean?

Lay Community Ministers perform creative and inspirational community ministries beyond the walls of their individual UU congregations. These ministries tend to be in non-congregational settings. Most lay people have been working without any formal affiliation with their congregation

The difference between a Lay Community Minister and a Commissioned Community Minister has to do with the level of connection with a congregation. A Lay Community Minister can perform his/her work independent of a relationship with the congregation. A Commissioned Community Minister is a Lay Community Minister who has undergone a Commissioning Ceremony by a UU Congregation and is engaged in a ministry that the congregation considers themselves connected to.

Is the idea of lay community ministers a new one?


Community ministry, lay and ordained, has been around for centuries, whether 
it has been called community-based ministry, specialized ministry, public ministry, social ministry, ministers-at-large, the larger ministry or another name. From the first days of Unitarian and Universalist history in America there have been forms of ministry taking place outside congregations.

How does this commissioning differ from the 
fellowshipping of clergy?


The UUA is an Association of UU congregations in the United States. The Association’s job is to serve and support the member congregations. In that capacity, the UUA has set certain standards for all UU fellowshipped ministers. The Ministerial Fellowship Committee (MFC) was established to create and enforce those standards by which ministers may be in fellowship (i.e., credentialed) with the UUA and to evaluate fellowshipped ministers to see that they meet and maintain those standards.

Covenanting with a Lay Community Minister to become a Commissioned Community Minister generally begins with a series of conversations. The Lay Community Minister will speak with the Parish Ministers first. If the Parish Minister is supportive, they should then talk to key congregational leaders, sounding out the community ministry’s potential to serve the congregation’s mission. The request for developing a covenantal relationship will then be presented to the board or governing body for further development and approval.

Do other religions recognize Lay Ministers?

Other religions and faith communities have embraced the idea of Community Ministry and Commissioning:
  • UCC Authorized Ministry
  • United Church of Canada Designated Lay Ministry
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has a Rostered Lay Ministry in 3 segments: Associates in Ministry, Diaconal Ministers, and Deaconesses.
  • Religious Science has Practitioners
  • United Methodist Church Certified Lay Minister
  • Episcopal Church Licensed Lay Minister
  • Roman Catholic Church Lay Ecclesial Ministries
How does one become a commissioned community minister?
  • You identify your community ministry.   
  • You work with your congregation’s parish minister(s) and lay leadership to create a covenant for your ministry.  
  • The congregation commissions you in a formal ceremony, recognizing and solemnizing your Commissioned Community Ministry.
  • You maintain your covenantal relationship into the future.
 Who benefits from commissioning a community ministry?
  • The community you serve  by the ministering that you provide, you make a difference to others and to the larger community in which you live
  • Your congregation will benefit by expanding its reach outside of its walls and making itself known in the larger community
  • The Parish Ministers ministry can be expanded and shared
  • You may find a deeper relationship to the UU faith and to those that you serve
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