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Ordaining a Minister: Our Unitarian Congregation’s Privilege and Responsibility

Over the past year, Foothills has been gifted by the presence of an exceptional ministerial resident, Kristen Psaki, who has supported lay leaders and teams in the newcomer ministry, justice ministry, small group ministry, and pastoral care, and whose willingness to stay with us for another year has allowed the congregation to give Rev. Gretchen Haley a long-overdue and much-deserved sabbatical these next few months.

While serving Foothills this year, Kristen has been granted preliminary fellowship by the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, the ministerial credentialing body of the UUA, and she now meets the recommended criteria for ordination.

She has asked Foothills if we would be willing to ordain her, and the Board of Trustees has convened a task force to discern whether we should bring this to a vote of the congregation at the annual meeting June 2, 2019.

The task force held an informational gathering Sunday, May 19th, at 10 am (Middle Hour) to explain what ordination is and how it is a right and a responsibility of all UU congregations, and to invite questions and dialogue around how we have experienced Kristen’s ministry.

Ordination is the act of a congregation affirming that they see a minister fit to serve our faith community in a candidate and it is one of the fundamental ceremonies that congregations are responsible for performing in our Unitarian Universalist religious tradition.

Unitarian Universalism, unlike other religions, reserves certain rights for congregations alone, and not a centralized church leadership, such as: the right to name the ministers that serve the tradition, the right to own their own church properties, and the right to democratically govern themselves.

Ordination is for life, and represents a dedication of one’s life to service and leadership in Universalist Unitarianism. It is not the same as calling a minister to serve a particular congregation. It is a UU congregation solemnly declaring that we recognize a minister fit to serve the Unitarian Universalist movement.  

Should we vote to ordain Kristen, we would be affirming that we find in her a strong and capable minister for our faith.

It is a rare honor and occasion for a congregation to be approached by a minister who is ready for ordination. Foothills went 25 years without the opportunity to participate in this final symbolic, practical, and spiritual step in the process of becoming a UU minister, until we were asked and voted to ordain Rev. Sean Neil-Barron in 2017.

Kristen came to us from Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden, where she completed her ministerial internship. She is a graduate of Union Theological Seminary in New York City. As a life-long seeker of wisdom and justice, Kristen’s UU identity sits on the shoulders of a formative Christian childhood and an earnest adult search for the sacred. Called to work at the intersections of healing and justice, Kristen finds guidance in daily spiritual practice and the prophetic voices of queer people and people of color. She trusts in the transforming power of Love and believes church is where we come to remember our truest selves and to reconnect with each other.