Coming soon—March 3!—you will gather as a congregation to ordain me to the Unitarian Universalist ministry and to install me as your settled minister. Many of you have asked me about this event and what it means, what to expect. So here’s a bit of explanation.
A minister may be “installed” multiple times over the course of a ministry, as she moves to serve different congregations. You would have had an “installation” event no matter who you called to serve as your minister. Even longtime ministers are “installed” when they change congregations.
But ministers are only ordained once, and the power to ordain a minister to the Unitarian Universalist ministry comes only from the congregation, not from an authority in Boston, not from any kind of “bishop” or “pope” figure. Yes, our credentialing body in Boston ensures that I have met the educational, experiential, and formational requirements to be a minister. But even they do not have the power to ordain me.
It has become the norm in our tradition for new ministers to be ordained by their home congregation (where they were congregants before entering seminary) or by the congregation where they served as intern minister. For a variety of reasons, it has become less common for ministers to be ordained by a congregation that has called them to serve.
But that has always been my dream: to be ordained by the congregation that has called me to serve as settled minister. To be ordained…by you.
Our March 3rd event will be a celebration of your congregational authority. It will be a celebration of the living tradition of Unitarian Universalist ministry. It will be a celebration of my years of work to arrive at this moment. And it will be a celebration of our shared ministry together, of all that we hope for and dream of for years to come.
In addition to the congregation, there will be many ministers there. Our preacher is Rev. Katie Kandarian-Morris, a good friend and the minister I worked with during my ministerial internship. Rev. Michelle Favreault, my advisor from Starr King School for the Ministry, will give what’s called the “charge to the minister.” Rev. Kathleen Owens from First Church in San Diego will give the “charge to the congregation.” Rev. Dr. Beth Johnson from Palomar will lead us in the “laying on of hands” that is part of ordination ritual. Rev. Dr. Arvid Straube will offer me the “hand of fellowship” as a Unitarian Universalist minister. Rev. David Miller will lead our offering practice.
My family will be there, of course, as well as friends (many from First Church).
And our music program will be amazing, as always.
All of this is to say…I hope to see you there.