Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Going Deeper

Doug Muder, at Free and Responsible has asked his fellow bloggers to give some help to the Task Force on Lay Theological Education.

That's the group looking into the gaping chasm between what most people can get at most of their UU churches by way of deepening their UU'sim, and going to theological school.

They've got a chunk of money to come to some conclusions and actually do something.

iMinister has a bunch of ideas about how that money could be used but that's not what he's asking for. He's asking for comments about what that cliff edge looks like. That's the place where people have come to understand Unitarian Universalism through sermons and a few classes, have grown in spirit through participation in worship, have served their church and want, well...more. But they are not ready or able or willing and might never be, to jump over the cliff and go to theological school. Or maybe they're unlucky as a young mom I just spoke to this week, to live in a state the size of New England which has not one theological school to its name.

iMinister can't speak to that condition personally. When she got that "deeper" urge she was a footloose and fancy free young adult she cheerfully jumped the chasm and landed in New England, and started Theological School. Worked for her, then. She totally gets it that it would be harder now, even for that same young adult, and that it would be impossible now, for the mom of a college-bound 18 year old and wife of the just-career-changed husband. iMinister was raised by Depression Babies, and unlike the rest of her generation, she has never shaken their teaching to be prudent about things like loans, bank accounts, and retirement savings.

Anyway, lots of people who want opportunities to grow in mind and heart in their faith don't want to be ministers. They just want more than their local church can provide.

Doug and the Task Force want to hear from you, dear readers. You can post comments on this Blog or you can go directly to his blog. The question, "What would help you go deeper? What do you want to learn, to do, to experience? What skills would you like to develop? What certification would you like to have?


OD/HR Min said...

Thank you for providing this link.

I was particularly struck by these words of the speaker, Daniel Aleshire of the Association of Theological Schools:

"As you might expect, 'excellent ministry' is more likely to become an issue when there
are fears that something is not going well. When the question is being asked in earnest,
my hunch is that it is often a symptom of some underlying dis-ease. . . . My hunch is that
'excellence' is a topical way of getting at some other question, maybe some worry."

I'm going to hazard a guess at the nature of this worry. As a child and adolescent of UUism in Washington, DC, in the 1950s and 60s, I saw us riding high on the impetus of A. Powell Davies and others. Returning to UUism in the 1990s, I've wondered whether UUism is stuck in a bad remake of "The Incredible Shrinking Man" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050539/), where everything around us (and most other Mainline denominations) is growing while we have remained the same size.

My personal interest -- found at my blog "Calling Ministers" (http://callingministers.blogspot.com/) -- is what role our processes for formation and examining of ministers might be playing in this phenomena.

Doug Muder said...

"iMinister has a bunch of ideas about how that money could be used but that's not what he's asking for."

Foolish me. I'd love to hear iMinister's ideas about how to spend the money. I have to say, though, I'm having a hard time getting used to the idea of a UU only answering the question that was asked.