Will the new minister hear me? Will my concerns and needs be met? Will the minister
understand what I’m living with? How will the community respond to our minister?
In answering these questions, a picture of the “ideal minister” (categorized by age, gender identity, nationality, physical or cognitive ability, race, sexual orientation, etc.) comes to mind. With this picture in place, it can be easy to unintentionally exclude ministers who fall into certain categories. At times, as we get caught up in comparing candidates to our “picture,” we can even forget what it is we hoped for in a minister.
On the weekend of October 24-25, First Parish of Watertown will participate in the Beyond Categorical Thinking (BCT) workshop offered by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) for congregations involved in the search for a new minister. The Search Committee invites all congregational leaders, members, and friends to participate in this workshop.
The Beyond Categorical Thinking program is designed to promote inclusive thinking and help prevent unfair discrimination in the search process for a new minister. This program includes a Saturday BCT workshop and a Sunday morning service with facilitators trained by the UUA. Usually an in-person three-hour workshop, this year we will be meeting virtually using Zoom in two 90-minute halves. In the workshop, FPW members will:
- Consider the hopes, expectations, and concerns they have for a new minister
- Learn more about the ministerial search process, and
- Explore how thinking categorically about people sometimes interferes with choosing the best candidate.
Come on Saturday, October 24 at 10:00-11:30 AM and 1:30-3:00 PM to participate in this UUA-sponsored workshop, led by Jacqui C. Williams and Rev. Donna Dolham. The Zoom link will be sent to all friends and members.
The selection of a minister is important. The Beyond Categorical Thinking workshop is another opportunity for everyone in our congregation to be a part of that process. This experience will provide guidance for the search committee in our work.
Case Study: Discrimination no longer exists
A candidating minster who is married to someone of the same gender identity is told by a member of the Search Committee, “We don’t have homophobia in the congregation. You won’t have to worry about that. There are some members focusing on racism and transphobia in the community, where those are bigger problems.”
If you heard someone say this, how would you respond?