This photo is one of my favorites from the day I graduated from Meadville Lombard Theological Seminary in Chicago. It was the end of a three-year Master of Divinity program that prepared me for ministry. I shared the celebration with my two children (pictured with me), my wife, and two of my sisters. It was May 2019.
Four years later now, this month I passed another milestone in my professional ministry: I have achieved the status of Minister in Full Fellowship. Many professions have levels of credentialing: for an actuary, there are a series of exams that you take to become a Fellow in the Society of Actuaries; for a professor, you complete a series of reviews based on your research scholarship, teaching, and service, and a committee of your peers grants you tenure. In Unitarian Universalism, any congregation can hire any person to be their minister, whether or not they go through a credentialing process.
In other words, the achievement of my Master of Divinity degree four years ago was the start of a process, and this granting of Full Fellowship represents a completion. And for the last three years, the maturing of my ministry has been here at UUFCM. The evaluations written by the UUFCM Board of Trustees and Shared Ministry Team have reflected the strengths and weaknesses of my work here. The recommendations from the MFC have been about improving my work here—and encouragements for the Board and the Shared Ministry Team to improve their work as well. Ministry is collaborative. It doesn’t unfold in a vacuum. My ministry grows as relationships with the congregation (and with my contacts in the wider UU movement) grow.
Next month, at General Assembly, I will have a moment similar to the one pictured here. Not a graduation, but a recognition of the achievement of Full Fellowship. At General Assembly every year there is the Service of the Living Tradition which honors retiring ministers, ministers who have passed away, new ministers—and those being granted Full Fellowship. Because of my work with UUFCM, my partnership with this congregation, I will grateful and joyful and honored to be recognized in that ceremony. And I’m looking forward to years to come of this fruitful, collaborative, and life-giving ministry here.
May love and compassion bless the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Michigan.
May all who enter here, and all who connect here, be blessed.
Rev. Andrew Frantz