Thursday, June 21, 2007

human minister

Rev. Ken Sawyer gave the Berry Street Lecture yesterday afternoon. His theme was the split between the person of the minister and the minister's role. An excellent lecture, as have been all the presentations during ministers days here in Portland preceeding the Unitarian Universlist General Assembly.

The minister's role is like a coat that a minister agrees to wear in service to the congregation. The congregation needs someone to wear the coat for them. Due to their personality, skills, training, and sense of call, one person looks at the coat and says "I could wear that." Ken's point is that the coat has to fit. Not just anyone can put it on. But the role of minister is also something larger than the self, created at the intersection of what a person brings themselves, and what the congregation projects on to them given their need for ministry.

This creation of "the minister" is thus a necessary fiction. But it creates an interesting tension. The congregation wants a minister and they understand that "the minister" is not the human person who's taken on that role. But they also want to know the human person. The role is ruined if too much of the human person is revealed, but not revealing enough humanity also ruins the minister's role.

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