Becoming an Affiliated Community Minister

If you are looking into pursuing recognition as an Affiliated Community Minister, congratulations! In addition to making a difference in the world, you are likely to find new meaning and depth in your Unitarian Universalist faith and practices.

The title “Affiliated Community Minister” refers to those who have collaborated with and developed a mutually benefiting relationship with a specific congregation or UU organization.

The Community Minister, Senior Minister, and the Affiliating Congregation work together to craft a covenant, a document of agreements that affirms the ministry of all parties. Within this covenant comes accountability, support, and collegiality among other attributes.

A Community Minister can be laity, ordained, or fellowshipped through the Ministerial Fellowship Committee; all must be a member in good standing with the Unitarian Universalist Society of Community Ministries (UUSCM).

On this website page, materials to help you get started as well as the history of the Commissioning/Affiliation process can be found. If you would like to talk with members who have experience in the affiliation process, contact the UUSCM administrator at

The following outline offers suggestions to consider while pursuing affiliation. These suggestions can be customized to reflect your unique ministry, your relationship with the senior minister, and the congregation: 

  1. Identify your community ministry, give it a title, a description, a vision and mission statement, and list tangible activities and desired outcomes

  2. Consider what training, certification, or credentialing you may need to fulfill your vision and mission. For instance, the UUSCM, in collaboration with the UUA, has developed a Faith Endorsement Process for chaplains who seek certification through the Board of Chaplaincy Certification Inc (BCCi) (

  3. Identify a congregation you can develop a collaborative relationship with and approach first the senior minister to request an interview about possible affiliation. If this is agreeable to the senior minister, an introduction with the board can be made and co-presented.

  4. Once this relationship has been identified, the aforementioned parties collaborate to craft a covenant. If there are other ministers in this congregation, it is ideal to engage them in this process as well. (Click here for samples)

  5. Plan a ceremony to celebrate and formalize the new collaboration you, the established ministry, and congregation have just forged! Congratulations!

Detailed information on Affiliation can be found here (

Community Ministry Background

Unitarian, Universalist, and Unitarian Universalist Community Ministries have been around for centuries. They have been called by many names: Community-based Ministry, Specialized Ministry, Public Ministry, Social Ministry, Prison Ministry, Chaplaincy, Ministers at Large, and The Larger Ministry.

It is understood that there are many community ministries that have gone unrecognized or acknowledged, including ministries that work with marginalized and oppressed communities throughout our long history.

From the first days of Unitarian and Universalist history in America many of our congregations have been involved in the care for the wider community beyond the parish walls in the manner of social justice work. Joseph Tuckerman is often credited as the “Father of Community Ministry” with his work providing services to the poor in the city of Boston, MA, in the early 19th century and established the Benevolent Fraternity of the Unitarian Churches (


Currently there is a program offered by the central East Regional Group of the Unitarian Universalist Association that offers a formal educational and ministerial formation program where mentors work with lay ministers in process. You can learn more about their program by going to . This program is a gold standard for credentialling lay leadership, and at this time they can only accept applications from people within the Central East Region. 

As a distinction, the focus of Commissioned ministry is to practice within the congregation. The focus of an Affiliated ministry is to practice outside of the congregation and with the wider community.

References and Resources for Covenants and Affiliation

Called to Community: New Directions in Unitarian Universalist Ministry
by Dorothy May Emerson and Anita Farber-Robertson (link)

Kathleen Parker’s 2007 book Sacred Service in Civic Space: Three Hundred Years of Community Ministry in Unitarian Universalism

On Covenant by Rev. Sue Phillips

Rev. John Cooper on Affiliation

UUSCM Guide to Affiliation for Congregations

Resources for Community Ministers

The Unitarian Universalist Society for Community Ministries.

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Champaign, IL 61821

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