Credentialing: What I Think
Our credentialing system is actually a system to assess the integrity, character, accountability and emotional intelligence of candidates for ministry. One of the tests for the candidates' willingness to be accountable is the difficulty and expense of the formation process. Are you willing to study? Are you willing to conform to a process that isn't crystal clear? Is your call strong enough to lead you to sacrifice?
So what do we need our credentialing system to do?
Overall, I think that UUism needs to pivot toward the social movements that are rising in the country.
We need to be an accessible and holistic movement for personal and social transformation.
To be that kind of movement we need to credential and deploy hundreds and thousands of new leaders who can provide leadership to rising social movements. Some will be working through our existing congregations; others will be leaders in new formations; others will working in communities and schools; others will activists and leaders in existing movements.
They need not be ministers, nor even ministers in formation. For the lack of a better term, I will call them "UU Credentialed Community Leaders" They represent Unitarian Universalism and have been attested by us as to being of good character, accountable, and emotionally suitable for spiritual leadership. They have trained to think religiously about our values and the social political environment. (I would even mark them with a distinctive clergy shirt.)
The costs and the time requirements of becoming a UU Credentialed Community Leader should be low. People should not quit their day jobs while in this formation process. And once in service, they will have to deal with their income needs either through part-time work, family support, stipends from churches and organizations.
Some will choose to go on to become credentialed and move into preliminary fellowship, after meeting additional requirements, including a more extensive theological education, etc. Some
I hope that we can gather a broad pool of future religious leaders as UU Credentialed Community Leaders. The country needs lots of them, and soon.