I do have a list of things that I think warrant further study and conversation.
- The impact of credentialing on the time it takes to prepare for ministry, and the cost/benefits to Unitarian Universalism and individuals of that time.
- I myself am biased against the idea that the best way to figure out who is qualified to be a UU minister is a brief, high stakes interview. Maybe this is the only way, but it disadvantages the people who don't perform well and those who fall outside "the norm", whatever that happens to be at the moment. And really...isn't it basically out of sync with ministry, which is a deep, relational, long-form career?
- There have always been interesting congregational polity issues when the denomination "keeps the list of ministers" who are deemed qualified to serve congregations-who-are-free-to call-whom-they-wish. It seems to me that this issue comes down to two points. Firstly, there are some things that congregations just can't do very well, so denominations do them. Publishing RE material is an example. Doing the hard work of ministerial credentialing is another. But what exactly can denominations discern in ministerial candidates that search committees can't? I think we should give that a hard look. In his piece, Wayne talked a lot about what congregations want and need, but actually, I think we're both guessing on this score and doing some wishful thinking. I also think that there is a legitimate reason for denominations to care about the quality and preparation of "its" ministers, irrespective of what congregations want. Most congregations really don't care whether their ministers know how many districts there are in the UUA, or how the MFC is selected, but you could make the case that a denomination should care...at least that "its" ministers can generally answer and quickly find the specifics of these questions. However, I think that it would be best to be clearer and more transparent about who needs ministers to know what.
- Speaking of factual knowledge, I think that if we decide a certain level of factual knowledge is important, that written, comprehensive exams are much fairer to candidates than hit or miss questioning in a high tension environment and I think that this should be looked into.
- If ministry is one of many careers in which you can't really predict success until someone is actually doing it, (see this very interesting article) then our three part credentialing series is out of whack. Let's talk about that!
- Finally, any system we create has to be doable by the ordinary volunteers and staff that we can afford. At the moment most UU's couldn't possibly serve on the MFC; the work load is massive. Overworked volunteers making pressured decisions....this is not a recipe for quality. And I would like to see processes in place by which the process could be evaluated. Records, statistics, and open reporting is the friend of the excellence we all strive for.