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Ministerial Formation Network
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What is the Ministerial Formation Network?

The Ministerial Formation Network (MFN) is the name chosen for a joint UUMA/UUA program designed to support every aspirant and candidate for our ministry no matter where they live or which seminary they attend.  A team representing the UUMA, UUA, Meadville Lombard and Starr King designed the network, after receiving a charge following a meeting of more than twenty denominational leaders from around the continent last fall who have a passion for ministerial formation.  The group found consensus around two decisions - that the network should be led/managed by the UUMA, in collaboration with the UUA, and it should be wholly distinct from the Ministerial Fellowshipping process.


What are the elements of the Ministerial Formation Network?

Every aspirant and candidate for the ministry will be eligible to participate in the network. It is neither voluntary nor mandatory at this time[1] .  We promise to offer three things to each aspirant and candidate:  discernment support, collegiality, and training and education.  Discernment support will be provided by thrice yearly discernment circles” led by fellowshipped and trained UUMA members.  .  Collegiality will be provided informally through chapters and clusters and formally by at least one gathering each year in a chapter, regional or continental setting.  Training and education will be provided several times a year on topics that most don’t receive in seminary and will be provided mainly through webinars and occasional in-person settings.


How will the Ministerial Formation Network be managed?

The UUMA is hiring a full-time Associate Executive Director (AED) whose portfolio will include the management/leadership of the MFN.  The AED will work closely with David Pettee, the Ministerial Credentialing Director of UUA, and will convene a coordinating team representing UUA staff, the UUMA’s Collegial Development Team, UUMA chapters, and people who have experience with in-care” systems or other ministerial formation support.   We plan on having chapter liaisons that will work with the AED on connecting aspirants and candidates with the network.  These liaisons will be selected by the coordinating team and will receive a small stipend for their work. Discernment circle leaders will be recruited throughout the UUMA and will also be selected by the coordinating team. Questions, concerns and counsel regarding the details of ministerial fellowship will continue to be handled by the Ministerial Credentialing Office. 


How is the Ministerial Formation Network being financed?

The MFN is being financed by three sources initially - grants from the Panel on Theological Education, the St. Lawrence Foundation and the UUMA budget.  We anticipate these grants to continue for the early years of the program and expect to generate new sources of funding as the network is developed.


When will the Ministerial Formation Network start?

We are planning to conduct two to five pilot programs beginning in the fall of 2016.  These pilot programs will include at least one urban area where there are many aspirants and candidates in multi-denominational seminaries without support networks in place, and one program will focus on the needs of geographically isolated aspirants and candidates.  We plan on rolling out the network for all aspirants and candidates beginning in the fall of 2017.


What’s next?

The design team is finalizing the details for the pilot programs and will be in touch with UUMA chapters and members who will be invited to participate.  We plan on beginning the process of recruiting chapter liaisons and discernment circle leaders later this year to begin working in spring 2017 to assist with the continental rollout in fall 2017.  

How do I apply to the Pilot Ministerial Formation Network? 

Please click on the following links to be taken to the position descriptions and applications:

Who do I contact if I have questions?

Until the UUMA’s new Associate Executive Director begins in September or October 2016, you can contact Don Southworth or David Pettee for more details or send an email to

Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association, 24 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 02210-1409
© 2016 Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association.