A new morning dawns (really late up here in the north country!)
I have been thinking about the really compelling parts of the conversations I was in
(And I repeat my invitation for other participants to email me their thoughts for posting, because I could only be in three of the 20 conversations that went on!)
I have been remembering the sheer excitement of talking with others about how to serve lay people who want more depth and learning than Sunday morning or adult ed can provide. I got back in touch with my enthusiasm about retreats and conferences. I loved someone's idea about "Seminary for a Day" cluster programing. I suggested that one good use of a little pot of money would be for someone to investigate distance learning (internet, mostly.) Colleges do a lot of this. So could our best ministerial and lay teachers but I know from experience that you have to have the right platform and you have to know more than I know about how to use it. If the UUA could help us figure this out, the courses we provide could be available to everyone. We also tossed around pros and cons of having some kind of UUA-certified para-ministry/deacon/elder/wise lay person program...something to challenge and then certify persons who have already been the president of their congregation, advised the youth group, and been to leadership school and feels a real yearning towards ministry of some kind but not a call (or ability) to enter seminary with its debt, uncertainty, and moving away, eventually, from their home. There are some very exciting possibilities, as well as shoals, to navagate there.
I have been remembering the conversation about fostering spiritual depth and emotional maturity in ministers. You can't force that river. depth and maturity are moving targets; they involve the ability to suffer, reflect on, survive and celebrate what is happening in your life, and these experiences happen as they will. One thing I learned was that the program of offering therapy grants to ministers to help them with the above has returned.
And I have been remembering a conversation about our certification process; that terrible connundrum; you have to have standards. Are our current standards the right standards? Are we able to discern what we have set ourselves to discern with the processes we use? How do we get recommendation-writers to be truthful and, well, discerning? Is it possible to have an effective threshold that does not leave those who have to cross it feeling angry, hazed, or misunderstood? Big questions.