I have never worn a stole. I have one, but I’ve never worn it.
The stole is the colorful fabric—a bit like a scarf—that a minister wears over their robes. In the Unitarian Universalist tradition, only an ordained minister can wear one. Rev. Elaine Strawn, who was my supervisor during my two-year ministerial internship, gave me one of her stoles as a gift when I finished my internship. That was a little more than a year ago.
I have passed all the requirements to be a Unitarian Universalist minister. I finished three years of graduate theological training, including the internship I mentioned; and also 10 weeks of training as a hospital chaplain. I also passed an interview with a committee at the national headquarters to determine my readiness for ministry, which proved to be one of the most challenging parts of my preparation.
But in the Unitarian Universalist tradition, only a congregation can ordain me, allowing me to wear a stole and to take the title “reverend.” On Saturday, after the members of the UU Fellowship of Central Michigan, along with the Oberlin UU Fellowship from Ohio, speak the words, “we hereby ordain you,” I will be Reverend Drew. The committee in Boston couldn’t do that; the seminary couldn’t do that; Rev. Elaine couldn’t bestow that honor upon me. Only a UU congregation can ordain me.
I’ve been a member of a UU congregation for a long time, and I’ve only been part of one ordination. When a congregation ordains a minister, it means they are entrusting that person symbolically with the power of the faith. It is fitting that this power is granted only by a congregation in our faith, because we believe that the wisdom is in the congregation; the compassion is in the congregation; the passion for justice is in the congregation. A minister may embody or represent these things in a single person, but the depth of wisdom, compassion, and justice-seeking is in the congregation.
When the members of UUFCM speak those words to ordain a new minister, you will be stepping into a power that you may not have known that you had. You have the power to ordain, through your collective wisdom, compassion, and love.
Spirit of goodness and compassion within every human heart, hear this prayer. May the urge for goodness and compassion inform our actions today. Through the deep-seated love in each one of us, may we be moved to work for justice for all of us.
May love and goodness bless the collective spirit of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Michigan and of the Oberlin Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. May each congregation feel their power to bless, to act for good in the world.
May any minister ordained by these congregations feel the joyful and solemn weight of the call: to minister unto; to share joy and sorrow; to witness triumph and difficulty; to work alongside for the betterment of the whole world, with no exceptions.
May it be so, today and every day.
Rev. Andrew Frantz
Rev. Drew is on vacation from June 26 toJuly 18. During this time, the contact person (in lieu of Drew) will be Norma Bailey (989.560.3952) through June 30; then Stacey Pattison (989.330.1832) through July 18.
His column is on hiatus June 29-July13
Drew's office hours are suspended until further notice. However, he is reachable at any time via email, phone, or text.
Day off: Monday
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