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Ministerial Formation Network
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What is the Ministerial Formation Network?

The Ministerial Formation Network (MFN) is 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?

Beginning in the fall of 2017, every aspirant and candidate for the Unitarian Universalist ministry will be eligible to participate in the network.  We promise to offer three things to each participant:  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 offered at least two 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 Associate Executive Director (AED) of the UUMA, Rev. Melissa Carvill Ziemer, is responsible for management and leadership of the MFN.  The AED will work closely with Rev. David Pettee, the Ministerial Credentialing Director of the 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 Group 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.  To supplement the grant funding, we will also charge participants a nominal fee.


What will it cost?

We are estimating the cost of the pilot program at $300 per participant. Thanks to the generosity of our funders, the charge to each participant will only be $100. This cost includes participation in the discernment circle, two trainings/continuing education events and one collegial gathering.  Transportation, meals and lodging at the collegial gathering are all covered by the fee.  In this way we can ensure that those who live at a distance from their group’s collegial gathering do not bear a greater financial burden to attend than those who live nearby.   


If the subsidized cost is still a hardship, more financial aid may be available, though the UUMA is unable to pay the full cost of participating in the program. If you are able to pay the full cost of the program, you will help to supply scholarships for other participants. To apply for a scholarship, please select the scholarship link below.


When will the Ministerial Formation Network start?

We are implementing six pilot programs beginning in the fall of 2016.  The pilots will be held in the Mass Bay, Southeast and Canada UUMA chapters.  We will also have pilot groups for trans, non-binary, and otherwise non-cisgender aspirants and candidates for UU ministry, people of color and geographically isolated people.  For the first round of applications for the pilot, we are excluding interns in order to prioritize aspirants and candidates without formal sources of formation support.  We realize that interns have unique needs for support and final preparations for ministry.  We plan on addressing those when the program expands to everyone in the fall of 2017.  Should we have additional vacancies in the pilot after the application deadline has passed, we will invite applications from interns at that time.  We plan to roll out the network for all aspirants and candidates continentally beginning in the fall, 2017.


What’s next?

The Ministerial Formation Network Coordinating Team is in the process of inviting participants and leaders to apply for the pilot program.  We will begin recruiting chapter liaisons and discernment circle leaders later this year to begin working in Spring 2017 in preparation for 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:

Chapter Liaison

Discernment Group Leader


Scholarship Application

Who do I contact if I have questions?

Please contact Melissa Carvill Ziemer at with any questions.

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