For all that is our life! by Rev. Andrew Clive Millard
One of the axioms of leadership development is that every leader’s primary responsibility is training their own replacement. In terms of congregational leadership, for instance, this means that an important part of every committee chair’s job is identifying, recruiting and preparing the next committee chair, ensuring that knowledge and skills are passed on to someone with demonstrated capability, rather than merely finding a warm body and hoping for the best.
Of course, the axiom also applies to ministry. That’s not in the literal sense of replacement, of course, given that in our tradition a minister is not directly anointed by their immediate predecessor but is instead called by a democratic vote of a congregation. Still, every minister knows that they will, at some point, pass on their pulpit to some other minister. Every congregation knows that it will, at some point, be in search for a minister. And so, for the sake of our faith, ministers and congregations alike have a vested interest in the training and preparation of future ministers.
During the last two years, we have been directly involved in the training and preparation of one specific future minister, our intern, Christina Hockman. We have seen her grow in her preaching and teaching, developing her pastoral and prophetic skills as well. Indeed, Chris is no longer a hypothetical future minister, but is truly a present minister, becoming more than a seminary student to become my colleague in serving our Fellowship.
This was recognized in December by the Ministerial Fellowship Committee (MFC), which approves new ministers with the Unitarian Universalist Association. And since then, Chris has been very busy, participating in the UUA’s search process to find a congregation of her own to serve. April 7th is when congregations may officially invite ministers to be their candidates, so we’ll be eagerly waiting for good news that day!
Of course, as excited as we are for Chris to step into her own pulpit, it will be sad to see her leave us. Saying good-bye is part of life, though, so it’s up to all of us to make it a good good-bye, knowing that we sent part of the best of our selves with her, thanks to the time that she’s spent with us. Here, then, is how the next couple of months will unfold as her internship comes to an end.
The Internship Committee, Chris herself and I will be writing final evaluations over the next couple of weeks, and Chris will complete her seminary work in mid-April. She’ll also preach an Earth Day sermon here on April 17th. Her graduation from Meadville Lombard is mid-May, and we’ll officially recognize the conclusion of her internship with us at services on May 22nd. However, Chris will then preach here one more time after that, no longer as our student but as a minister in her own right, on May 29th. And please plan to go up to Richmond on Saturday, June 11th for her ordination! We’ll be ordaining Chris jointly with the First UU Church of Richmond, which is her home congregation. Stay tuned for details, including transportation options.
Now I certainly don’t want us to rush the last couple of months that Chris has with us, but there’s one more piece of news I want to share, something that has resulted in part from the glowing reports of her internship that Chris has shared with her fellow seminarians. And that news is, we’ll have another intern next year!
Many of you heard Walter Clark preach here at the end of November, and I’m pleased that he’ll be joining us in July for a nine-month, full-time internship. He’s graduating from Meadville Lombard with Chris in May, having also been a student minister at First UU in Richmond, and will be with us next year in order to satisfy his MFC requirements. I look forward to introducing Walter to you further in due course and hope that you will help him develop as a minister as thoroughly and as lovingly as you helped Chris!