What Makes a Minister? Musings from your interim minister

I used to joke that a minister was a Pastor, Preacher, Prophet, Plumber, Philosopher, Gardener, Bookkeeper and Baker. Not far from the truth, ministry encompasses many facets, seen and unseen of congregational life. As UCV prepares to search for your next settled minister, I thought you might be interested to know what UU Ministers today are trained for, what competencies they are evaluated by, and what professional ethical expectations they are to uphold.

This is the Code of Conduct from the UU Ministers Association to which all UU ministers must be accountable. This is a recent article by congregational consultant, Sarai Rice, entitled “What Should a Minister be Good at, Post-Pandemic?”

Listed below are the competencies to which UU ministers are trained and evaluated through 3 years of graduate study, then by the Ministerial Fellowship Committee for a further 3 years of preliminary fellowship, based on feedback from congregations they serve, from mentors and from their own self-evaluations. This list has become a tool for congregations to use in further regular evaluation of their shared ministries.

One: Worship and Rites of Passage

  • Knows how to prepare holistic, inclusive worship and rituals for life passages.
  • Demonstrates awareness of multicultural and multigenerational approaches to worship.
  • Prepares and delivers engaging sermons, homilies, and reflections.
  • Works collaboratively with professional colleagues and lay worship leaders.
  • Uses arts to create multisensory worship.
  • Integrates theological theory and practice.

Two: Pastoral Care and Presence

  • Can provide pastoral care, recognizing differences between pastoral and therapeutic counseling.
  • Demonstrates healthy personal boundaries and knowledge of professional ethics.
  • Has awareness and skills to respond appropriately to sexuality, mental health, end of life, and relationship concerns.
  • Understands cultural and generational needs in pastoral care.

Three: Spiritual Development for Self and Others

  • Models spiritual depth in personal practice.
  • Articulates philosophies and theories of teaching and learning.
  • Models accountable engagement with diverse spiritual traditions and communities.
  • Demonstrates understanding of multi-religious knowledge and practices.

Four: Social Justice in the Public Square 

  • Is engaged with critical justice issues in the local community and in the larger world.
  • Can apply the lens of power and privilege in the areas of antiracism, anti-oppression, and multiculturalism.
  • Understands basics of community organizing and value of broad-based coalitions.
  • Connects the history of UU justice engagement to the present.

Five: Administration

  • Is prepared to manage staff and volunteers.
  • Has a basic understanding of budgets, stewardship, and fundraising (and the theology thereof).
  • Understands role as a minister within a mission-based institution.
  • Articulates understanding of conflict management and obstacles to healthy organizational functioning.

Six: Serves the Larger Unitarian Universalist Faith

  • Collaborates with Unitarian Universalist and interfaith colleagues, including other religious professionals.
  • Articulates historical influence of Christianity on North American culture, including Unitarian Universalism.
  • Engages with Unitarian Universalism at the local, regional, national, and global levels.
  • Articulates knowledge of current initiatives and issues within the faith movement.
  • Demonstrates knowledge of UU history and polity.
  • Contributes to ongoing scholarship and support of professional ministry.

Seven: Leads the Faith into the Future

  • Experiments with emerging media technology.
  • Articulates a vision for the future, assessing opportunities and challenges for Unitarian Universalism in a changing society.
  • Explores new generational and multicultural expressions of Unitarian Universalism.


Interim Ministry