Tuesday, 20 September 2011

LCAC with 'the Opposition'

First of all congratulations to Mhoira Lauer-Patterson on becoming a bishop, and also best wishes for her move to be among the more marginalised in Beeston, Leeds, as regards her own ministry.

Meanwhile, has she joined the Unitarian 'opposition'? The September news of the LCAC tells us (she writes it in the second person):

On Wednesday 24 August Rev Dr Mhoira was interviewed by Rev Stephen York, Vice President of Unitarian Ministries International via Skype. The result of the hour-long chat was that Mhoira was invited to meet the full board of UMI on Sunday evening 28 November. The result of that urgent board meeting via their telephone conference line was to welcome Mhoira into full ordination standing with UMI. Rev Dr Mhoira is to be awarded a second certification by UMI after her consecration as the first woman bishop of the LCAC which respects and acknowledges her standing as an LCAC bishop.

This doesn't worry me particularly and I'll suggest why. Unitarian Ministres International, under Rev. Maurissa Brown, is a sort of Internet Unitarianism that follows on from the breakaway American Unitarian Conference (from the broader Unitarian Universalist Association). Thus it retains a doctrinal (today) Channing-like Unitarianism that wishes to remain Christian and not evolve as the Channing Unitarians had done. So it retains a biblical Unitarianism, an original left wing Reformation view that was lost via the theological romanticism of the UK and the transcendentalism and humanism of the USA. It does relate better to central European Unitarianism but, by and large, that Unitarianism is formally related to the UUA and British General Assembly. Knut Heidelberg in Norway seems to be on both ships at the same time, the UMI and the UUA/ GA whilst he retains his Christian Unitarianism.

UMI like the Liberal Catholic Apostolic Church selects ministers and is clergy-led, indeed clergy dominant. To join, you become a minister, and so has she. The sense of this is unclear, because whilst the LCAC goes to great photographic and documentation lengths to connect itself with apostolic succession, this cannot be so with UMI. When Knut Heidelberg was ordained a Superintendent Minister, he was told specifically that Unitarians do not believe in apostolic succession. The reason, of course, UMI has ministers, is because it is an Internet based Church with no congregations except a few rump ones in the United States under the AUC.

However, a few die-hards on this side of the Atlantic, in the GA and members of the Unitarian Christian Association, have also become ministers of the UMI. For the most part, they don't actually minister to anyone. It's a Protestant version, perhaps, of the Young Rite: where the priesthood of all believers means making everyone into a priest. To some extent, this is the ethos of Liberal Catholicism, but the Young Rite takes this to its logical conclusion - anyone who wants to be can be ordained as a priest.

It's fair to say that Mhoria is Jewish sympathetic and unitarian (small u) by her own beliefs, but she hasn't the contact or background to train up to be a Unitarian (GA) minister or position to give it a commitment of five years after training. So she has shifted a group that selects than one that trains. The GA Unitarians also remember the confusion over a Minister who became a Bishop in Europe of the very different Brotherhood of the Cross and Star. There is at least overlap in anti-dogma terms between the LCAC and GA Unitarians, whereas the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star was a magical, charismatic, semi-Christian body.

I see no difficulty in Mhoira taking services from time to time in Hull or her developing her ministry in overlap. That's no more than any of us do. Personally I wouldn't join the UMI as I can't see the point, the same as I'd be a trained minister doing ministry in a particular setting. I have PHD, MA, BA (Hons.), PGCE, but I don't have specific ministry training (except for a year and I don't count that as training) and my experience in service taking is ad hoc or self-taught with advice.

1 comment:

Unitarian Ministries International said...

Dear Pluralists Speaks,

I have enjoyed your comments about UMI and a respect your writings. Actually, we are a church that have ministers who minister to home congregations, meet-up groups, and churches. Currently, all of our ministers are active. It's not an association of clergy;it is an association of various styles of congregating led by ordained and lay ministers. This is why you only see the clergy posted on our website for this information serves as a point of contact for families and individuals who want to worship with these worship circles. We have Unitarian ministers who are conservative, moderate, and liberal serving with us from all Christian denominations. Peace and Blessings, Rev. Maurisa Brown, Senior Pator of UMI International