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Ordination is Transformation: The Work of the Congregation and Mystery

On December 8th, you will have the chance to vote to ordain Christopher Watkins Lamb, our current Music Lead, to the Unitarian Universalist ministry. 

As is written in our denomination’s handbook on ordination:

Ordination isn’t just about one person’s ministry. In the Unitarian Universalist tradition, authority to ordain (and to call) ministers rests squarely with the congregation, a decision that Rev. Joanna Crawford calls “a theological statement.” She elaborates:  

The sacramental duties [of ministry] are referred to as the “priestly functions,” even though none in our tradition go by the title of priest… [F]or an ordination, the congregation as a whole, the church body, does the priestly function… They draw out from their midst an individual, acknowledge the calling in their life, and because we are a tradition of learned clergy, often recognize the education, training, and fellowshipping that has been a part of their preparation. And then they set the individual apart, giving them special authority for ministry. It takes away my breath: not just the transformation of the ordinand, but the transformation of the congregation itself, into this priestly role. It is incarnation, as the congregation becomes the body of Unitarian Universalism, of our heritage, our traditions. The ordination will happen to me, but it is not about me. It’s about the holy mystery in which we understand ourselves as a Unitarian Universalist congregation. We do not require an intermediary or higher authority, such as a bishop, to acknowledge the workings of Spirit; we are that authority.

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 Christopher, we would be affirming that we find in him a strong and capable minister for our faith.

Christopher has been with us since July in his current role, and in September was granted preliminary fellowship by the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, the ministerial credentialing body of the UUA. He now meets the recommended criteria for ordination. Christopher has served as the Ministerial Intern at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder, the Spiritual Care Resident at CSU, and is currently a hospital chaplain with UCHealth.

Four Foothills members, Becky Draves, Jody Donovan, Ken Tremblay, and Rev. Tom Rhodes served on Christopher’s internship committee during his 12 months as Colorado State University’s first Spiritual Care Resident. The Committee writes: “Christopher has had a significant impact at Colorado State University. He has supported grieving students, staff, faculty, and families of deceased students. He has supported students who have experienced traumatic incidents in their lives. His pastoral care and presence has rounded out the types of services Colorado State Health Network has been able to provide to the student community.”

Prior to the vote, there will be an informational gathering Sunday, Dec 1, at 9:35 am and again at 11:05 am (on either side of the 10 am service) in room 26 (RE wing) 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 Christopher’s ministry. We hope to see you there!

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