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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. The MFN offers discernment support, collegiality and supplemental education free of charge. Through non-evaluative individual or group advising with experienced ministers, quarterly webinars on a range of topics and an annual retreat with other participants and leaders in the program, the MFN offers a web of support for those who are preparing to devote their life to ministry.  


What are the elements of the Ministerial Formation Network?

We offer three things to each participant in the program:  

·       discernment support

·       collegiality

·       supplemental education

Discernment Support:

Participants can choose to receive their discernment support from either an individual vocational advisor or in a group experience (provided they enroll in the summer/fall).  For those who would like the support of others who share an aspect of their identity, we offer identity group options. We also offer the option for participants to specify identity preferences for their Vocational Advisor. We cannot guarantee our ability to make identity matches, but we will do our best.


Participants are invited to at least one in-person retreat each year they are enrolled in the program. Like other aspects of the program, attendance at the retreat is free of charge.

Supplemental Education:

Drawing on research about the transition into ministry, we offer webinars each year on a variety of topics. Participants may choose which webinars are most relevant to their own learning goals. 


What are the Ministerial Formation Network eligibility requirements?

To enroll in the program, a person must be either an aspirant or a candidate for the Unitarian Universalist ministry and a member in good standing of the UUMA. As long as this criteria is met, there is no limit to the number of years a person may participate in the MFN.

In addition, those who enroll must make a commitment to participate to the best of their ability. The benefits of the program will be fully experienced by those who fully participate, as the components of the program have been designed to work together. Minimum participation requirements include meeting regularly with a vocational advisor or discernment group and attending at least one webinar. 


How is the Ministerial Formation Network led?

The Director of Ministries for Collegial Care for the UUMA, Rev. Melissa Carvill Ziemer, is responsible for management and leadership of the MFN.  She works closely with Rev. David Pettee, the Ministerial Credentialing Director of the UUA.  Support is provided by the UUMA Collegiality Program Assistant and by the MFN Advisory Team.

Many UUMA members volunteer for leadership roles within the MFN. Ministers who have achieved at least preliminary fellowship serve as individual Vocational Advisors, Discernment Group leaders, MFN Liaisons and webinar presenters.

Vocational Advisors receive orientation and support. They meet with their advisee 5-8 times between October and June. Participants and Vocational Advisors receive suggestions about how to maximum their experience, including the option of using an advising session plan.

Discernment Group leaders receive orientation, support and complete session plans for each of their group sessions with participants. Groups meet 5-8 times between October and June.

Liaisons receive orientation, training and ongoing support and work closely with the UUMA Professional Leadership to implement the program in most UUMA chapters. Leaders in this role receive a stipend in appreciation of their efforts.

Webinar presenters work with UUMA Professional Leadership to share their knowledge and experience in online video conferences. Webinar presenters are only responsible for sharing their content, as technology support is provided.


How is the Ministerial Formation Network financed?

The MFN is funded by grants from the Panel on Theological Education, the St. Lawrence Foundation, the Fund for Unitarian Universalism, the Stevens Fund and by a portion of the UUMA budget.  We are very grateful to the generosity of our funders. We do not charge a participation fee. Participants support the program by paying their dues to the UUMA.


What is the timeline of the Ministerial Formation Network?

The program runs on an academic year program year schedule, but enrollment is open on a rolling basis. Participants can join the program at any time. Widespread enrollment invitations, group formation and orientation for leadership will occur in August and September with an expected start for groups and individual advising in October of each year.  


How do I become a leader in the MFN?

Click on the following links to indicate your interest in serving as a Discernment Group Leader, Vocational Advisor or Webinar Presenter. If you are interested in serving as a Chapter Liaison, please contact Melissa Carvill Ziemer at

Discernment Group Leader 

Vocational Advising

Webinar Presenter


How do I become a participant in the MFN?

Enrollment in the MFN is open on an ongoing basis. Click this link to enroll.


How do I access the MFN library?

You can access all the webinars we have offered and the session plans for individual and group advising at:


Who do I contact if I have questions?

Please contact the Director of Ministries for Collegial Care, Rev. Melissa Carvill Ziemer at or (617) 848-0498 extension 1 with any questions.


To learn more about and to register for our virtual summer retreat, please click here

We will add additional retreat dates for 2020-2021 in this space later this summer. 

Important Links:

Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association, 24 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 02210-1409
© 2020 Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association.