Vol. 54 No. 9 1
May is the month in which we consider the theme of Appreciation. It is an especially fitting topic because I am coming to the end of my two-year tenure as your intern minister. As my time draws to a close I take this moment to speak to you of my appreciation and the privilege of serving you and of the Ordination service which will take place at USR on Sunday May 31st at four o’clock. The journey to becoming an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister is a long and winding road. Colleagues have told me it is rare that it becomes a hurried 100-yard dash to the finish line. I know, I tried to complete all the requirements in the shortest time possible and I was told to “slow down.” The most essential aspect of my training was the insistence of developing self-awareness. To be a good minister I learned the importance of knowing myself and understanding who it is I bring into the room. Unexpectedly my training has been filled with long moments of introspection and reflection on who I am and my motivations for becoming a minister. My two years at USR have taught me being a minister is filled with extraordinary opportunities and challenges. Naturally there are highs and lows and the greatest reward is being invited to be a witness to your lives and the life of this community. In my estimation, church is the sole remaining cradle-to-grave institution. As minister I get to welcome your children into the world at their dedication service and when members die I am called on to minister to their families and preside over the celebration of their lives in memorial services. In between there are all of life’s milestones and the cycle of life continues as we march forward in time.
From the Intern Minister’s Mailbox
On May 31st the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood and the Unitarian Church in Summit (my sponsoring congregation) will ordain me. According to the Anchor Bible Dictionary: Ordination is “[the] appointment to formal functions in a religious community.” The rite of ordination is an ancient one which predates the apostolic tradition. In Ancient Greek society vacancies in priesthood were filled by election, drawing of lots or a combination of the two. In Roman society offices of the priesthood were most often determined by imperial designation. In Judaism elevation to the rabbinate was once determined by divine and hereditary favor. Christian ordination puts emphasis on the divine choice of ministers for the church which was mediated by prophetic utterance or selection by the people. Our Unitarian Universalist ordination follows these ancient traditions of clerical ordination. Ordination is recognized by the entire community of congregations as the "indelible sacrament" as similarly found in Catholic theology. In our context, a Unitarian Universalist ordination is both a worship service and a celebration. Inasmuch as this is the ordination of one person, it is your moment as a congregation to make a statement of your hopes, dreams and aspirations for Unitarian Universalist ministry and Unitarian Universalism. This is an opportunity to put forward the splendor and pageantry of Unitarian Universalism at its finest. The act of ordination in our congregational polity, affirms and bestows the office of minister. The purpose of ordination is to confer on the ordinand the rights, privileges, duties and responsibilities of Unitarian Universalist ministry. The ministerial stole—the vestment draped around the neck— is the symbolic yoke of ministry. Bear in mind we are inheritor of the branch of the Protestant Reformation which believed we can have a relationship with the divine without the intermediation of hierarchical authority. It is therefore from this tradition that this congregation has the sole authority to ordain a candidate into Unitarian Universalist ministry and in so doing assert its authority for which many before us had sacrificed their lives to achieve. This is the moment upon which we all stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before us. The rite of ordination is a call from you and by you the people to anoint those it feels capable and worthy of assuming the holy orders of ministry. I am deeply appreciative and grateful of this moment and ever mindful of the privilege of serving you and Unitarian Universalism.
In faith and service, Carlos R. Martinez