MFC moving toward adopting Fulfilling the Call as statement of Competencies.

Available at UUA Bookstore.
The UUA's Ministerial Fellowship Committee, which credentials candidates for the UU Ministry, has been reviewing the way that they name and categorize the competencies that candidates must have. They have just released a progress report on that effort. What is newsworthy is that the Committee is moving toward using the Fulfilling the Call as a model for their competency framework. 

What effect does this have? It shapes how candidates will plan and document their skills and learning as they move toward fellowshipping. It means that the Fulfilling the Call schema, which is available everywhere, is becoming an association-wide set of definitions of what ministers are expected to do. It gives a common language for talking about a minister's performance and skill. 

Fairly objective, commonly understood, and universal standards by which ministers are evaluated, whether by the Fellowship Committee, Search Committees, or congregational leaders, are necessary to treat ministers fairly, and nurture a diverse ministry. Subjective standards, like "ministerial presence" or "fit" are the ways in which prejudice and bias enters into the evaluation process. 

Here is their report.
 -- Tom Schade

The Ministerial Fellowship Committee’s Competencies Review
An Update to Stakeholders
December 2014

What is the Competencies Review?

In September 2012 the UUA’s Ministerial Fellowship Committee began a review of the competencies that are required of all candidates for fellowship as Unitarian Universalist ministers. The review began by inviting input from stakeholders about the existing competencies and ones not yet defined. At the same time that this review began, the UUA and the UUMA entered a partnership with Education Development Center Inc. to create a model for UU ministry in the 21st century, published in 2013 as a handbook titled Fulfilling the Call. Drawing on input from stakeholders and inspired by the response to the model found in Fulfilling the Call, the MFC is releasing an initial draft of new competency descriptions and describing the next steps of our work.

How the Ministerial Fellowship Committee is using Fulfilling the Call.

While the MFC will continue to require academic ability as well as applied knowledge, Fulfilling the Call provides a considered approach to other duties and tasks required for 21st Century ministry in our faith. The rubrics described in Fulfilling the Call has offered the MFC new insights into the baseline competency they are looking for in successful candidates for UU ministry, as well as for the crossing the threshold into final fellowship.

Fulfilling the Call is more than an assessment framework; it is a potentially transformative look at the depth and breadth of the applied art of Unitarian Universalist ministry. (Fulfilling the Call, p. 5). Our new competencies involve some paradigm shifts in what the MFC will look for in candidates for ministry:
Paradigm Shift: 
FROM :                                            TO:           
Knowledge–based competencies

Practice-based competencies

Learned Ministry

Learning Ministry

MFC tests academic subjects

MFC focuses on applied ministry skills.

MFC tests in 17 subject areas

MFC simplifies and focuses on 7 priority areas

MFC competencies are unique to this process

MFC competencies are aligned with other rubrics, specifically “Fulfilling the Call” and the RE credentialing process.

Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression and Multiculturalism (ARAOMC) as well as Sexual Health and Boundaries are tested as separate subjects.

 ARAOMC and Sexual Health and Boundaries competency questions are asked as applied ministry questions in relevant competency areas.

Draft  of New MFC Competencies
(Based on Fulfilling the Call)

One   Leads Worship and Officiates Rites of Passage
·        Prepares holistic and inclusive worship, liturgy and rituals.
·        Demonstrates awareness of multicultural and multigenerational approaches to worship.
·        Prepares and delivers clear, composed, engaging sermons, homilies and reflections.
·        Develops lay worship leaders.

Two       Provides Pastoral Care and Presence
·        Provides direct pastoral care, recognizing differences between pastoral and therapeutic      counseling.
·        Sets healthy boundaries and demonstrated knowledge of professional ethics.
·        Recognizes different cultural and generational needs for pastoral care in ministry setting.

Three    Encourages Spiritual Development for Self and Others
·        Models spiritual depth or offers spiritual direction
·        Leads curricula, workshops, or retreats for congregants, clients, or organization members
·        Promotes increased depth of spirit in others and the organization
·        Promotes spiritual development for children, youth, and adults through religious education 
Four Witnesses to Social Justice in the Public Square
·        Stays informed about justice issues in the local community and in the larger world
·        Uses the pulpit and the public square to work for justice
·        Integrates social theory/social ethics into this ministry
·        Learns how power and privilege operate in society and is able to apply that lens to the work
·        Determines how to work in partnership with persons of other faiths and community groups
·        Absorbs the history of UU justice engagement and can connect it to the present

Five       Leads Administration
·        Guides the mission and strategic planning of an organization
·        Manages professional staff and volunteers
·        Promotes excellence in stewardship and fundraising

Six                  Serves the larger Unitarian Universalist Faith
·        Collaborates with colleagues—both Unitarian Universalists and those from other faith traditions.
·        Engages with Unitarian Universalism at a congregational, regional, and national level.
·        Familiarizes oneself with current initiatives and issues within the faith movement.
·        Contributes to on-going scholarship and support of professional ministry.

Seven                 Leads the Faith into the Future
·        Uses a wide range of media technology to extend the ministry of the institution.
·        Creates a vision for the future, assessing opportunities and challenges for Unitarian Universalism in a changing society.
·        Builds alliances to advance the values of Unitarian Universalism.
·        Identifies social and cultural trends and their impact on Unitarian Universalism and articulates a vision for the future
·        Employs new ways of outreach (includes new media and intercultural hospitality)
·        Explores entrepreneurial approaches to ministry

A Draft - Advice to Candidates on New Statements of Competence

As you begin to fill in your statements of competence, the MFC has found it valuable to point out a few areas of emphasis that make these documents as illuminating as possible as we try to discern your preparedness for ministry.  Please pay attention to the guideposts listed below:

§  Do more than list courses and book titles.  As much as possible help us to understand how you have applied what you have learned.  Don’t attempt to tell us what you know; show us how you do the work of ministry.  How has your preparatory work shown up in how you minister?  (E.g. How did the course in administration impact your skills in time management or other practical aspects of helping the organization or congregation run smoothly?)

§  Don’t try to say it all.  Your packet will convey a great deal about the formative experiences you have had in seminary and elsewhere. You have 400 words for each area of competence to summarize the impact of certain jobs, experiences, courses, etc. on your understanding of yourself as minister.

§  Tell us more than what knowledge you have gained.  What skills, practices, and tools for ministry have you learned to apply to the work of ministry?  There is an art to ministry, and there are practical ways to apply your skills that help the art come alive.  Share the ways you have found to uniquely and personally apply the arts of ministry.

§  The competencies should serve as an overview and introduction.  In reading these statements, the MFC should be able to glean both the course of study you have pursued, and how it has intersected with your emerging ministerial identity.  The competencies are meant to show us the overall shape of your path in ministerial formation.  The rest of the packet adds detail, color, and depth to the outline the competencies have drawn.

Tasks for the MFC to continue working on during 2015:

·        Further communication with stakeholders about this draft
·        Revision/Update of the MFC Reading List
·        Collaboration with the seminaries about coursework and trainings
·        Reimagining the Candidate’s Packet based on new competencies
·        Convene Focus Group of recent Candidate Liaisons re the packet requirements
·        Align Preliminary Fellowship renewal forms with new competencies
·        Work with Regional Subcommittees on their new authority for waivers increasing flexibility in requirements for dedicated community ministers.
·        Align internship requirements and evaluations with the new competencies.
·        Align RSCC and MFC interviews with the new competencies
·        Create guidelines for Boards of Trustees and Committees on Ministry for using Fulfilling the Call and the forms that guide evaluations during Preliminary Fellowship.

Please note that since several of these tasks will extend throughout 2015, there is no expectation that the current competency requirements for candidates with appointments with the MFC through September 2016 will undergo mandatory changes. As changes are implemented, candidates may be given the option to use current or new requirements or forms as they are implemented.


The Chair of the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, Rev. Wayne Arnason, welcomes written feedback through March 15, 2015 at his church email address:
The feedback will be compiled and reviewed by the Process Working Group of the MFC and be influential in the next steps of this review process during the MFC’s April 2015 meeting. 


  1. richard dillenbeck12:01 AM

    Am not sure I am surprised or not surprised that none of the competencies measure intellectual content of sermons or if sermons challenge church attendees to examine their own or others' held beliefs and life choices and expand their knowledge of the seen and unseen worlds around us.

  2. I have to say that while I think many of the changes are valuable ones I cannot understand why this is a 'required' part of the plan:
    Four Witnesses to Social Justice in the Public Square
    · Stays informed about justice issues in the local community and in the larger world
    · Uses the pulpit and the public square to work for justice
    · Integrates social theory/social ethics into this ministry
    · Learns how power and privilege operate in society and is able to apply that lens to the work
    · Determines how to work in partnership with persons of other faiths and community groups
    · Absorbs the history of UU justice engagement and can connect it to the present

    There are many ministers including myself who do not focus on social justice issues nor do our specialized ministries require it. It would seem on surface review that the assumption is that all ministers in formation need to be on board and make it a required part of their ministries. I can certainly understand the advantage of knowing about the history and importance of social justice issues but making it a requirement seems to me to be a step too far.


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