So I met with the new minister of the UU church yesterday. It was an hour and a half long meeting. I shared with her some specific events that shaped my life and why I wanted to be in ministry.
She said, "well, you’re obviously very bright, or else you wouldn’t have been able to pull off the preaching for the Methodists…" and, "I just don’t see that you have the maturity levels to be a UU minister…" and "you’ve got a lot of growing to do before regional takes you seriously." (regional is the regioinal committee on ministry: you do a battery of psychological tests and interviews. they decide whether or not the UU will ordain you.)
she also said that the reason why people see me as a twentysomething is because I present as if I still don’t have everything figured out… that I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do with my life.
I don’t disagree with the figuring out part – I still very much am trying to figure things out. I just disagree that it’s a bad thing.
yeah so she totally shot me down.
there was mention of the previous minister, and my relationship with him. she said other people in the congregation reported to her that the previous minister was "preaching to me" and that I would shout things out to him in the middle of his sermon. which I did. I explained to her that we both hailed from a call and response tradition – we were comfortable with that… I didn’t explain it very well. but it was cool with him… it was cool with me. and cool with at least one person who came up to me after a service and said, "I just love you!!!" and told me to keep on affirming the previous minister’s message.
the whole meeting was troubling. and as a friend told me last night about what she said to me, "well, that’s just a slap in the face!"
so here’s the email I sent to her. and below is the email I’d like to send to her… (a la bunners)
Dear Rev. —-
I am very hurt and troubled by your pronouncements last evening that you don’t think I’m mature enough to be a UU minister, as well as your comment that you heard that Rev. Richard was preaching to me specifically.
It seems a fair conclusion to me that you had already had your opinion of me formed before we met, and that it was clearly not a favorable one.
I think my agenda for the meeting was to get to know you a little better, and for you to get to know me, and that your agenda was an assessment of whether or not I was worthy for ordination. I think there were some unrealistic expectations on my part about the meeting.
I am still very obviously at the beginning of this journey towards ordination. I would like to be taken seriously. I think your critique that I need to present myself in a more professional manner is fair. Perhaps I didn’t present my best, most-together self when we met last night. I just wanted to show up as a person and give you a broad picture of my journey as a human being. I hoped to be treated by you with kindness and compassion, and there was some of that. But your comments toward the end really hurt my feelings.
I am very unaccustomed to putting on airs, and I believe that I have value as an authentic, searching person. Part of my healing work has been to be honest with myself and others about who I am, and I value and treasure that in myself and others.
I think there are many models of an effective clergy person, and it seems that you and I are not of the same mold. But does every minister need to be the same? I don’t think so.
Based on your assessment of me, I will strive to present myself to you in a more professional, put-together manner. But I don’t think I trust you enough to be as honest with you as I was yesterday. I’m not sure where the information I shared will go. This saddens me a great deal. I had hoped for some kind of healthy relationship with you.
Anna Marie Martin
epic fail. epic fail to understand me and affirm me as a human being with ministerial aspirations.
epic fail to give me a first chance. to meet me as I present myself in my awesomeness and wholeness.
whatever you had heard about me from other congregants, you should have given me a chance. you should have met me without prejudice. you should have been open to my experience. you should have wanted to get to know me for yourself before forming a negative opinion of me.
you should take me seriously.
I would like to call you all sorts of names. bi-otch. ass. prissy. better-than-thou. holier-than-thou. smugger-than-thou. favorite-picker. nose-picker. butt-picker. meaney! stupidhead! all high and mighty with the power trip.
I don’t however, believe that name-calling is productive to healthy relationships. I’m not sure we can have a healthy relationship though. maybe I should just get it off my chest. and move on.
what hurts the most is that you didn’t give me a chance. and in the touchy-feeley world of "organized religion," clergy are supposed to be all lovey-dovey and first-chance-givey.
you fail. you fail hard. and I really hate the "this little light of mine" stupid-ass hand motions we sing every week. and I really hate that you sing harmony though the microphone. and I really hate that you’re all lovey-dovey with the people who drove R. out. and I really hate that you’re not going to make the institutional changes that this congregation needs. (maybe that’s preemptive to say that on my part. maybe you will. I want you to. but I don’t think you have the stones to make the staffing changes that this congregation needs to be healthy.)
I think you fail. and I think you’re mean. and I’m super-sad that I tried to trust you with my story, and you didn’t honor it or me in the way I needed.
No love, no love whatsoever,