RSCC Postponement

(Translation: this is for ministers seeking credentialing in the Unitarian Universalist movement. The regional committee can postpone people and set forth certain requirements before they can come back. I was postponed and it took me two years before I could meet the requirements. This is advice for people who are going through and have gone through my situation. It is very specific, so feel free to scroll on by. :)

It is not talked about, but many people are postponed. Many incredible ministers have been delayed, including Forrest Church, Kendyl Gibbons, and probably more ministers in your area that you are not aware of. Ministers who have gone back to the fellowship committee three or four times until they get it. They do not publish statistics, but it is not uncommon and try not to feel singled out.

The committee is there to give you good feedback so you will be a successful minister. Postponement means that they think you need more time. Something debilitating happens to everyone in ministry; where they think they can no longer minister. With the average tenure of ministers being 7 years, it is something everyone in our profession must prepare for. The earlier it happens to you in formation, the more capable you’ll be when more challenging situations happen - when there is a lot more on the line than having to wait for a committee. It is a myth that anyone answers the call of ministry unchallenged by others or their personal struggles. The advantage here is that the people on these committees are deeply invested in your development. Others who set you back are not.

I was postponed the first time I saw the committee. When they read the decision, you are not allowed to challenge or debate it but can ask clarifying questions. Be sure to ask questions about how to proceed with their decision.  For example, they may ask you to do CPE again. Since it may take a long time to do CPE again, ask if you can see the RSCC while in the process of completing CPE or other feedback they ask you to do. Keep your questions limited to as how you can accomplish their feedback logistically. If they ask for you to be more vulnerable, ask what steps others have taken to improve on this. Ask who will be your contact person from the RSCC and what to do if that contact person steps down off the committee during your postponement. They offer a minister to mentor you during your postponement, so seek someone out who is very familiar with the RSCC process - ministers who are brilliant but ordained before the RSCC process and have never served on an RSCC or MFC since will not know how to guide you through the system. There is talk about UUMA chapters developing support groups for seminarians, check with your local chapter for support even though you are still an aspirant. My local chapter was kind enough to allow me in their meetings as long as I promised to abide by the UUMA guidelines. While being postponed means that you are not technically beholden to the guidelines, do not commit career suicide by ignoring them.

You will feel many tremendous feelings during this time. Return to your spiritual practice and there, dig deeper into your resolve for ministry. Many will try to help you meet the requirements of the postponement practically, others will listen to your pain. No one will say that you should not have been postponed. No one will challenge the decision of the RSCC, even if it is wrong. No one can change the fact that the RSCC postponed you, and the RSCC experienced you as they did during the interview. No one can take away your call to ministry, either. You are a minister as you say you are a minister; external validation of that is gravy. External challenging of that strikes at the core of our identity, and the response must be your own rise to the challenge.

People will tell you to join up with other people who have been postponed. That may work, or it may not, because each situation is so individual. While there may be stigma among your formational peers, more mature colleagues you admire will embrace your postponement as a learning experience and fully include you in the community whenever they can.

Whoever you are, reading this as you have been postponed, I love you. I have been you before. (Contact me if you want to commiserate!) You are not alone on the path, and in time, you will be what you were meant to be. You may loathe this decision, you may distrust this process, you may doubt our tradition but you can not deny that there are so many people who don’t even know you who are rooting for you to finish what you started. This you will see manifest in the coming months and even years until you see the RSCC again. You are beloved by us, and you can bring yourself whole back to the RSCC again. Blessings to you, and may your cracks caused by the shattering of postponement be refilled with gold.