Thursday, October 29, 2009

Excellence in Ministry- How is "Fellowship" like a Ph d?

The UUA's Board of Trustees is appointing a task force to study the issue of Ministerial (and RE and Musician) accrediting. This is a direct outcome of last December's Excellence in Ministry Summit, and I am glad to see the action.

Ours are not the only professions where we wonder if our preparation and credentialing is really working for us. Here in an article from Harvard Magazine on the requirements and credentialing of Humanities Ph. D students. The ministerial system is different. To our credit, we have evolved a system in which it is not only the practitioners who control credentialing, but those who are served by the professionals in question. But it raises questions we should be looking at.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mr Roberts' Rules

In writing a memorial eulogy for a woman in our church who was for some years, our parliamentarian, I was recalled to this statement, from Mr. Roberts himself, about his purpose in writing his rules.

1. That the majority prevail.
2. That the minority be heard.
3. That the absent be protected.

My father introduced me to this statement of purpose early in my career, when I was impatient with the arcane lore of Roberts rules, and how it could be used, inadvertently or not, to manipulate a group. It quieted me right down. I remain in favor of a simpler set of rules, but when anyone suggests a new meeting procedure, I mentally run it through Roberts' filter. Will the majority prevail? (there are a surprising number of ways to run meeting in which this is not the outcome). Weill the minority get their chance to be heard? Will the absent be protected from stealth agendas or attempts to manipulate the vote by wearing out the membership?

If I were writing, I'd add another rule, and that is, "Will the rule of law be honored?" That means everything from the law of the state to the bylaws of the group. Mr. Roberts probably took that for granted, but in these days, it needs to be said aloud.

Thanks, Meg Prince, parliamentarian to the Middle Rio Grande Valley, for caring about process. May you rest in peace.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Rights of licensed and public officials not to do stuff they don't believe in.

You think interracial marriages are wrong? It's your right to believe that.
But your right to act on that belief is constrained by laws and by employment policies. Believing interracial marriages are wrong doesn't give you the right to beat up the groom. And it doesn't give you the right to deny equal protection under the law to interracial couples.

Which means that, if you want to be a Justice of the Peace, you have to abide by the law that requires you to do your duty without prejudice. If that bugs you so much, you need to find another line of work or a way to be a Justice of the Peace who doesn't perform marriages. (if there is such a thing...)

Same thing goes for pharmacists who don't want to dispense some kinds of medicines, and teachers who don't agree with some part of the curriculum, not to mention engineers who hate certain kinds of bridges or ministers who don't like to work Sundays. Doing your job is...a condition of employment! Pharmacists who don't want to handle birth control pills are free to work in the pharmacy of home for the elderly. Teachers who don't believe in Evolution are welcome to teach English or First Grade or Special Ed to severely handcapped children or wherever else they can find that this issue won't come up. Nurses who don't want to perform abortions can find thousands of jobs where that duty will never be asked of them. Even ministers who don't want to work on Sundays can, with dilligence, creativity find paying employment.