I am in preliminary fellowship. I’ll let my friend Rev. David explain it.
We all prepare for meeting with the MFC in our own ways. I’m an information junkie, so doing things like studying, making lists and timelines, and covering my study with random factoid sticky notes was my process.
I also can be guilty of an overabundance of optimism at what I can get done in the last minute, so I wanted some sort of structured way of preparing for this meeting. After watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy where Torres agrees to meet Meredith every morning to drill her for her medical boards, I looked around to see who would be my Torres.
… and then realized that with Facebook, I had a whole community of Torreses.
So, for six months, every Sunday or Monday, I’d ask for five “MFC Prep Questions.” Ministers, other candidates, and lay folks would send them on, and I’d answer one a day, Monday-Friday.
Folks would argue with my answer, and argue with each other. Great long discussions took place not only over the 16 Competencies one must have to become a fellowshipped UU minister, but about the very nature of ministry itself. It was GREAT.
Some of my process, both the Facebook preparation and the studying, was less about meeting with the MFC and more about me testing myself. In the same way one might go on a wilderness survival trek, to push one’s limits and endurance, I absolutely immersed myself in the competencies, especially Unitarian Universalist history. I love our religious tradition and I guess there was a part of me that needed to feel I worked hard, HARD, to take my place among the ranks of those who have gone before.
I did work hard. And for myself, I feel glad of that.
And yet, too, there is something beyond all the studying that places me in ministry. I did not receive a common question: Upon what do you root your authority as a minister?
My answer would be that I am a Unitarian Universalist, and thus, my authority comes from the congregation that ordains me.
But my other answer, equally true, is this: I know the exact moment I became a minister. About 7 months after Little Wren had completed treatment for her second cancer bout, I was down on the banks of my beloved Pecos River. For several days, I went down to the river and cried. Sobbed. It was as if I was completely emptying myself out.
And then, one day, I didn’t need to cry anymore. I was emptied, I was calm, and at peace. Down at the edge of water, I received a clear message, that I was now a minister.
A week later, now back at home, a colleague called to ask if I could please do a memorial service.
“Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”
Here am I. Send me.