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. Affiliated Community Ministers may be Spiritual Directors, Clinical Chaplains, Educators, Activists, Group Facilitators, Recovery Professionals, Librarians, Paramedics, Benefit Corp Entrepreneurs, Doctors, Lawyers, Blue Collar, Clinicians, and White Collar.

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 to serve the community as a Unitarian Universalist. Lay, Commissioned, or Ordained.

This relationship is based on the call, mission, vision, and credentials needed by the potential Affiliate, and Congregation. A MFC Fellowshipped Clergy Chaplain will probably have a different level of credential than a Spiritual Director or Horticultural Therapist. Your affiliated relationship should be based on the requirements needed to perform the ministry of the affiliation.

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 Affliated Community Minister can be laity, commissioned, endorsed, 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) ( Other Community Ministers get credentials in Spiritual Direction, Recovery Support, Patient Care, Advocacy, Education, or other form of service as a Unitarian Universalist.

  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 (


Congregations or Communities are free to Comission Unitarian Universalists by right of congregational polity.

They can "commission" Unitarian Universalists as "Deacons" or Commissioned Lay Ministers of Service. This Commissioning is in relationship between a Credentialed Lay Minister and a Congregation. It gives the Lay Minister spiritual and religious authority to perform a ministry of service.

This UU authority is based on service to the congregation or to the wider public community and bestowed by a UU community. It is distinct in that it does not ordain the lay minister but bestows limited authority to complete a ministry goal of service. It should match the credentials of the Affiliated Community Minister. A Deacon or Comissioned Lay Minister is not a Reverend or Pastor. They perform a Ministry of the Lay People not the Ministry of the Ordained Clergy.

All Commissioned Lay Ministers or Deacons must be members in good standing of UUSCM.

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 credentialing lay leadership, and at this time they can only accept applications from people within the Central East Region.

The Unitarian Universalist Society for Community Ministries.

UUSCM co/ Doug Jones

1914 David Drive

Champaign, IL 61821

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