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Career Story: Unitarian Minister

Unitarian Minister

Job Title: Minister

Type of Company: My work is ministry

Education: BA, English, University of Massachusetts •• M. Div., Harvard Divinity School

Previous Experience: I was a high school teacher for several years.

Job Tasks: I write and deliver sermons on a weekly basis. We talk about God and our highest values and how we can and do aspire to incarnate our highest ideals. As Unitarian Universalists, we accept that there are many ways to know and name God. As minister I also provide pastoral care, listen to people as they journey through life, bring flowers and a listening ear and other kinds of support to the sick and elderly and families in distress. The church tries to help those in need out in the community - this requires outreach and presence in the community. We also have an active social justice committee that speaks out on issues of the day in accordance with our religious values and teachings.

As minister I meet weekly with the director of Religious Education and the director of Music. Each Sunday there is plenty of music at our worship service; having the right music is important and enhances the experience enormously, so we confer on what is best and where in the service it should go. The director of Religious Education and I talk about which services might benefit from being inter-generational. I meet with the week's storyteller, sharing the sermon topic and choosing a theme-consistent story.

Since the church provides religious education to people of all ages, I also teach Adult Education classes occasionally throughout the year.

The church has a governing board which convenes monthly. At these meetings we discuss the nuts and bolts of running the church - finances, staff issues, policy etc.

One of the things I love most about the ministry is that no two days are alike.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job for me is that I get to be with and support people in their most important moments - we dedicate babies, officiate at weddings and support people during crisis and when they die. Ministry is not a 9-5 job. Working every weekend is hard on my spouse and kept me out of the house, away from my kids more than I would like.

Job Tips:
1. Ministry is a job where you have to tend to yourself as well. Too much selflessness can burn you out.

2. Ministers have to have good boundaries. It is unwise to seek friendships within your congregation, for a variety of reasons, so the ministry can be a lonely profession.

3. The most important attribute of a minister is the ability to listen with love.

4. Something you should know - ministry is, in many ways a life of study.

Additional Thoughts: Ministry is often a profession that people choose when they are older in life and have "lived" some. And yet, I have known some exceptional ministerial students in their twenties.

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