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Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association, Weekly News and Reflections

October 4, 2019

Rev. Melissa Carvill Ziemer, Director of Collegial Practices

Rev. Melissa Carvill Ziemer, Director of Collegial Practices

Abiding Love


There are at least two ways I talk about my call to ministry. In one story, I tell about how I had been searching for a religious community to call home for years. In that story, I tell of the first time I attended a Unitarian Universalist worship service when I was twenty years old. Before the hour was done, I had a clear and strong feeling that I found what I had been looking for and an immediate sense of being drawn toward the role of the minister.


In the second story, I tell about how I had a whole lot of internalized anti-religious bias rise to the surface after I found a religious community to call home, so I had to sort that out. And I tell about how I am prone to having trouble making decisions, so I kept the idea of ministry in the back of my mind while I worked as a preschool teacher and then later as a domestic violence and sexual assault counselor and advocate. In the second story, I tell about how I held every volunteer role in the congregation that I could get for seven years while I carefully considered my options. In this story, my call to ministry was diligently and slowly discerned over many years.


Either way I tell it though, the thing that is the same is the love. My call to ministry is grounded in a deep and abiding love that has shaped my life for as long as I can remember. That love is what moves me to care for people and keep them company in the particularities of their struggles and their suffering. That love is what moves me to fight against the injustices in this world that are the source of so much suffering. That love is what moves me to care for our earth and to nurture our collective capacity for caring. That love is what moves me to surrender to love and to notice with gratitude all the ways we are sustained by grace.


After over a decade in the parish, I have a good sense of how to be a parish minister. I feel like I’m really still learning how to be an institutional minister. I spend a lot of time considering ways the UUMA can better care for you – how we can provide more support for ministers and for ministry while also fostering a stronger and more effective culture of accountability. The work of trying to decenter whiteness and counter oppression in the functioning of the UUMA and in our practices of ministry is central everyday. I approach that work as praxis, knowing that there is always more to learn. Over the last few years I’ve been thinking a lot about how the UUMA can effectively function as a continental organization with less air travel. Janette has a longer view and assures me we are making progress in reducing our carbon footprint, and I also know we must keep reducing it further. These are some of the ways that love moves me in this particular ministry.


In all that is involved in ministry in the UUMA, I feel most tuned in to love when the work feels relational. So this is the last thing I want to say. If you have thoughts to share about any aspect of the work I focus on in the UUMA, I’d love to have a conversation with you. If we can talk in person, that is great, but Zoom and phone are good too. What you have to share may be just what we need for the ways we are growing and changing and listening to how love calls us now.

All Things Institute


We are excited to announce the theme for the 2021 UUMA CENTER Institute for the Learning Ministry: Faith Empowering Resilience. The Institute will be held February 8-12, 2021 in San Diego, California. You can begin now, and registration opens on December 15.


The CENTER team is interested in your proposals for potential workshops at the Institute. We are looking for workshops that can provide practical tools, that fill us spiritually, or help us understand the landscape we live in. Workshops can either be 6 hours (full) or 3 hours (half). Preference will be given to workshops that relate to the theme of Faith Empowering Resilience. If you have an idea for a workshop, please fill out the by October 18 with the title, description, how it relates to the theme, half or full workshop, and name and a brief bio of presenters. Please contact if you have any questions.

Creating a New Way:

Online Workshop Series for White Male UU Clergy on Feminism and Anti-Racism led by Chris Crass


Continue your growth with a 3-part online series for White Male UU Clergy led by Chris Crass. For White Male (Cis, Trans, Masculine leaning) UU Clergy Who Ask:

  • “How can we, as white male UU ministers, bring our leadership and ministry in ways that further feminism, racial justice and collective liberation?
  • How can we actively support and be in solidarity with the leadership of women, people of color, and others marginalized and oppressed in society, and in our faith institutions and culture?
  • How can we minister to the hearts and lives of white men and boys in these changing times in our denomination and society.
  • How can we support white men and boys to be social justice leaders rather than fall prey to the messages of the alt-right and reactionaries that blame people of color and women for their pain.”

Nic Cable, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbus, Indiana offers this testimony, "I am grateful to have participated in the "Creating a New Way" online discussion group. Dismantling patriarchy and white supremacy in my life is saving my life. It is helping me be a better husband and father, a better minister and colleague, and a leader in the public square. Chris Crass and the other white male ministers in the group fostered a supportive and challenging environment. And we continue in relationship on this journey toward shared liberation."


Chris Crass is a longtime social justice author, educator and organizer who works in white communities to develop anti-racist commitment and leadership and with men to develop feminist commitment and leadership. Rooted in his Unitarian Universalist faith he works with congregations, seminaries, and religious and spiritual leaders to build up the Spiritual Left. He is also the author of Towards Collective Liberation: anti-racist organizing, feminist praxis, and movement building strategy and Towards the “Other America”: Anti-Racist Tools for White People Taking Action for Black Lives Matter. He lives in Louisville, KY with his two sons. You can learn more about his work at .


There will be two sessions of this course, each class will be two hours long and contain short readings and reflection questions.


: Tues. Oct. 15th 12:30 EST, Tues. Nov. 12th 12:30 EST, Tues. Dec. 10th 12:30 EST


: Wed. Oct. 16th 12:30 EST, Wed. Nov. 13th 12:30 EST, Wed. Dec. 11th 12:30 EST


Cost of all 3 sessions for UUMA members: $150

Non-member price: $200

Space is limited, click links above to register! Ministers who participate in this course can earn continuing education credits.


Be in Touch!


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Thank you for your service in the world

and for your commitment and passion

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Director of Collegial Practices


Director of Education


Director of Operations


, pro tem

Melissa, Darrick, and Janette






Education Program Assistant


Collegiality Program Assistant


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