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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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:
Detailed information on Affiliation can be found here (https://uuscm.org/GuideToAffiliationForCongregations/)
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 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Tuckerman).
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 http://www.uua.org/central-east/programs/cll . 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
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 https://www.uua.org/files/pdf/s/sue_phillips_on_covenant.pdf
Rev. John Cooper on Affiliation
UUSCM Guide to Affiliation for Congregations
Resources for Community Ministers