It’s happening, friends. Sunday, I will be ordained a Unitarian Universalist minister.
In our tradition, only a congregation can ordain a minister. Not the UUA, or the MFC, or a District Executive, or the UUMA. Only a congregation.
I am awed by the theological significance of the event.
Ministers have many different duties, pastoral, prophetic, preaching, teaching … the sacramental duties are referred to as the “priestly functions,” even though none in our tradition go by the title of priest. Officiating at a wedding, baby dedications, those sorts of things.
But for an ordination, the congregation as a whole, the church body, does the priestly function. The church body becomes priest. They draw out from their midst an individual, acknowledge the calling on their life, and because we are a tradition of learned clergy, often recognize the education, training, and fellowshipping that has been a part of their preparation. And then they set the individual apart, giving them special authority for ministry.
It takes away my breath, not just the transformation of the ordinand, but the transformation of the congregation itself, into this priestly role. It is incarnation, as the congregation becomes the body of Unitarian Universalism, of our heritage, our traditions.
The ordination will happen to me, but it is not about me. It’s about the holy mystery in which we understand ourselves as a Unitarian Universalist congregation. We do not require an intermediary or higher authority, such as a bishop, to acknowledge the workings of Spirit; we are that authority.