Like two other bloggers, I am concerned about the tone of the reportage of the Ministerial Fellowship Committee rule change [later. it has been altered] but even more about the subtle power shift it assumes. Ministers look more like employees and the congregations look more like an at-will employer, which might be a bit paranoid if it weren’t for the other changes within the Unitarian Universalist Association — say, concerning the independent affiliates — in the last few years.
There was a time in Universalist polity — from whence we get many of our current fellowship standards — that ministers and congregation alike were fellowshipped and subject to discipline. If ministers can be disfellowshipped for incompetence, why not congregations. I’m thinking of the clergy killers.
But there’s some liberation in this focus, and that’s liberation from equating the Unitarian Universalist Association and its business from the business of Unitarian Universalism. There need to be more robust and independent centers of power — say, the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association — that must, if need be, take a contrary and even adversarial role in intra-Unitarian Universalist politics. Bloggers can play an important role in news reporting and opinion shaping along new, unofficial channels.
Even as a small denomination, we’re too big to be one happy family.