Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Do UU seminaries train ministers to grow our movement?

I just heard that the UUA is restructuring how it funds our UU seminaries. Instead of funding seminaries they will be focusing on supporting the seminary students. A letter sent to Star King graduates states that this will amount to a $250,000 cut in funding to each institution -- Starr King and Meadville Lombard.

I read the UUWorld.org report on this. It mentions that 60-70 percent of UU seminarians do not attend UU seminaries. While I understand the logic, I hate the idea of not having multiple UU seminaries.

Here's my immediate, albeit late, reaction to this. GROW our movement. INCREASE the number of UUs. Drastically MULTIPLY the number of UU congregations. Move from a binary ministry model - you are or you aren't a minister - to a CONTINUUM of ministry.

I chalk this financial problem up to UU's doing a craptastic job of sharing our faith, sharing ministry and planting new churches. Not that tripling the # of UUs would fix these financial problems, but it wouldn't hurt.

Now, I'd love to check in with Starr King and Meadville Lombard and see what exists in their curricula as far as UU evangelism, church planting, small group ministry, cell ministry, and all those things that would be necessary to build a growth oriented UU ministry.

I don't know what they teach. I would love to find out.

How much of this is a chicken and the egg sort of phenomena? How many seminarians leave our "flagship" UU seminaries and go off and start a new UU congregation? Does our system allow for that? Could anyone afford to do that?

Maybe some brave soul can bring this up in the GA open space technology sessions. The OST question about our role as a faith community in this complex world could easily include a group focusing on how our view of ministry, "lay" ministry empowerment/training, and cultivation of ministers relate to our capacity to minister in this hurting world.

PS - Every time I guest preach and mention Open Space Technology people want to know what kind of gadgets are involved. NONE. It is a process. Not a techno-gizmo.