Our faith is one of covenant and relationship, wherein the relationship to the congregational body is a defining one for any minister.
And yet we recognize the powerful need for ministry beyond the walls of our congregations and the deep value of those who serve not primarily in the congregation, but in the wider community. We call this ministry community ministry.
Community ministers are chaplains, spiritual directors, justice-advocates and activists, non-profit managers, youth mentors, and more.
In the Unitarian Universalist tradition, community ministry is celebrated, and it is also, at its best, rooted in congregations, accountable to gatherings of Unitarian Universalists as the central site of our faith.
Therefore, it is recommended and encouraged by the UUA, Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association (UUMA) and Unitarian Universalist Society for Community Ministries (UUSCM) that all community ministers maintain an affiliation with a congregation.
For any community minister, affiliating with a congregation is a solemn and joyful relationship of accountability as the minister represents Unitarian Universalism to the wider world.
For a congregation, affiliating with a community minister means that we are developing a special and mutually deepening relationship with a minister working outside the congregation.
An affiliated community minister is not paid staff, and is especially not unpaid staff – in other words, they should not be taken advantage of for their skills. As part of the affiliation agreement, a congregation may agree to compensate the minister for some work performed within the congregation such as guest preaching, pastoral summer coverage, consulting with a lay committee, and more. Any volunteering done by the affiliated minister will be freely offered by that minister and not expected, pressured, or cajoled.
In, June of this year, our Board of Trustees voted to enter into a Covenant of Affiliation with the Rev. Dottie Mathews to recognize and affirm her role as a Unitarian Universalist Community Minister, serving the larger community beyond our church.
On Sunday, September 18, we shared a ritual of covenant and welcome with Rev. Mathews. We are so glad and grateful that Dottie has chosen our congregation as her church home and as the site of affiliation and grounding for her unfolding community ministry. We know that our identity and commitment as Unitarian Universalists will grow because of our relationship with Dottie and her work in the wider community!