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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.  A team representing the UUMA, UUA, Meadville Lombard, Starr King and leaders of existing formation programs designed the network, after receiving a charge following a meeting of more than twenty denominational leaders who have a passion for ministerial formation.  

The group found consensus around two decisions - the network will be led and managed by the UUMA, in collaboration with the UUA, and it will be wholly distinct from the ministerial fellowshipping process.  The MFN does not report about participants experience to the MFC in any fashion. A six-month pilot of the program was conducted in 2017.  The process of full implementation begins in September 2017. 


What are the elements of the Ministerial Formation Network?

We will offer three things to each participant in the program:  

·       discernment support

·       collegiality

·       supplemental education

Discernment Support:

Participants will be able to choose to receive their discernment support from either an individual vocational advisor or in a group experience.  For those who would like the support of others who share an aspect of their identity, we may offer a limited number of identity group options.  We will 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 will be invited to at least one in-person retreat each year they are enrolled in the program.

Supplemental Education:

Drawing on research about the transition into ministry, we will offer 4 webinars per 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?


Pending a positive vote extending membership eligibility to aspirants during the UUMA Ministry Days in 2017, a person will need to be either an aspirant or a candidate for the Unitarian Universalist ministry and a member in good standing of the UUMA to participate in the MFN.  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.  At the end of each year, all members of the network who certify that they have met the minimum requirements will be granted a certificate of participation.


What about pre-existing formation support programs?

We have invited pre-existing formation support programs to become part of the MFN.  Local programs may be able to supplement what the MFN can offer with additional programming and support.


How will the Ministerial Formation Network be led?

The Acting 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 including the AED and the Ministerial Credentialing Director, the UUMA intern and representatives from the UUMA’s Collegial Development and CENTER teams.   The Coordinating Team will seek additional council from an Advisory Team made up of seminary representatives, denominational leaders, UUMA leaders, UUA staff and former participants in the program.

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


Vocational Advisors will receive orientation and support.  They will meet with their advisee 5-8 times between October and June. Participants and Vocational Advisors receive suggestions about how to maximum their experience.

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

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

Webinar presenters will work with the AED to share their knowledge and experience in on line videoconferences.  Webinar presenters are only responsible for sharing their content, as technology support will be provided.


How is the Ministerial Formation Network being financed?

The MFN is being 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 will not charge a participation fee.  Participants support the program by paying their dues to the UUMA.


When will the Ministerial Formation Network start?

The process of full implementation of the MFN will begin in September, 2017 with orientation for all participants and leaders.  Individual Vocational Advising and Discernment Groups will begin in October 2017.  Recruiting for UUMA member leadership will begin in April 2017.  Registration for participants will open in May 2017. 


How do I become a leader in the MFN?

Click on the following links to sign up to volunteer or apply as:

Discernment Group Leader 

Vocational Advising

Webinar Presenter

MFN Liaison


How do I become a participant in the MFN?

Applications to be an MFN participant are now open. Click this link to apply.


Who do I contact if I have questions?

Please contact the Acting Executive Director, Rev. Melissa Carvill Ziemer at or 330.554.7268 with any questions.

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