Defining Community Ministry

Every denomination that practices “congregational polity” does so a little differently, and each seems to discover its own sticking points. For Unitarian Universalists, one persistent quandary is how to recognize and support professional ministry outside the most standard parish settings. UU ministers have long served as chaplains, community organizers, educators, and in other community roles, but for some reason the denomination finds it challenging to talk about how such ministries fit into the overall scheme.

Back in 1995, when I was director of ministerial settlement  (now called “transitions”), I wrote a think piece, “Defining Community Ministry,” for the UUA Department of Ministry. Since the paper was cited in Kathleen Parker Sacred Service in Civic Space: Three Hundred Years of Community Ministry in Unitarian Universalism (Meadville Lombard Theological School, 2007), I have had several requests for copies. I had lost track of mine, so I asked Kathleen for a copy of hers, which she kindly provided. Unfortunately it was so enthusiastically annotated by a previous owner (who thought, among other strange things, that “Hotchkiss was against the SLM”!) that I was reluctant to re-release it till I got around to scanning, OCR’ing, and cleaning it up. That work is now done. I welcome any thoughts you may have.

I did finally get around to it, and here it is: . I have no idea how well it holds up in the light of current conversations, but it seemed worthwhile to save it for the record.