Ministerial Leadership Experience
My seminary required a two-year, part-time ministerial internship. My first year was spent at the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, NY, and the second half of my internship was completed at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, VA. In both places, I had a loving teaching pastor and committee of congregants to guide my learnings and provide me feedback and support along the way. I am grateful to all of them for their loving wisdom, insight and caring. During my internship, I learned/was responsible for:
- Worship: Played an active role in worship planning, taking responsibility for different components of worship that varied week to week, including preaching. Had plenty of experience leading worship on my own, in my teaching congregations, in other churches that needed help with pulpit supply, and leading monthly worship services at area retirement communities where a number of elderly congregants lived.
- Religious Education: Observed and taught both children's and adult RE classes. Am a trained OWL facilitator for 7-8th grade OWL.
- Pastoral Care: Visited parishioners in their homes, in the hospital or hospice. Journeyed with them during end of life care and decision-making. Walked with families to help plan and to officiate memorial and graveside services, including services for a young man who had committed suicide. Provided pastoral counseling for congregants who requested it. Provided a calm, non-anxious presence to help minister to people caught in tensions around conflict and disagreement around a particular issue in the congregation. Led efforts to create and train a lay leadership pastoral care team to support the ongoing work of the ministers.
- Small group ministry: Helped to reorganize and revitalize a Covenant Group program, including recruiting and training new leadership and facilitators, building new curriculum for the groups, and creating ministerial support and community building among the facilitators through quarterly workshops. Helped to organize, lead, facilitate and train new facilitators to get new groups up and running.
- Working with the Board: Was an active observer of board meetings. Was asked to play a more active role in helping the board create policy as part of the church's transition to policy governance. Participated in several policy governance training workshops.
- Budget/Finance: Participated in budget planning and review meetings at both internships, learning at my respective teaching pastors' feet how the process worked in that particular congregation. Learned through observation how to host informational meetings to allow the congregation to provide visioning input to the budget process, and to provide an opportunity for everyone to ask questions for greater transparency around the budget process. Also observed how ministers in both settings were able to facilitate communication among the board, the treasurer, staff and other stakeholders to be able to shape and ultimately approve a workable annual budget, and to manage the budget throughout the church year.
- Admin/Management: Also participated in annual goal-setting for my areas of responsibility, including being able to tie my work to the overall ministry/work of the church. Provided ongoing updates to my teaching pastor on my progress in reaching those goals. Helped coordinate various teams of staff to work on particular assignments. Participated in leadership workshops, including Healthy Congregations, a workshop in how best to help congregations move through disagreements and conflict.
- Summer Minister: At the end of my internship, the UU Church of Arlington asked me to stay on and be their summer minister, gaining invaluable experience as the on-site ministerial leader for a congregation of nearly 1,000 from mid-June through August.