Initial Threshold Assessment

At the beginning of their degree program, each student is expected to do a Threshold Review with their advisor to explore where they are in relationship to each of the Thresholds.  Midway through their program, students will write an in-depth Threshold Assessment summarizing their work and progress in meeting the learning outcomes of each threshold.  Because a student’s program of study is individual, the advisor may use differing methods, tools and timing with each advisee.  Students are encouraged to confer early with their advisor about these requirements.

A tool called the Threshold Assessment form is posted on the SKSM website under Student Forms.

The Threshold Assessment must be reviewed and signed by the advisor before a student can set up their Portfolio Conference.


SKSM Peer Community Support

Your experience as a student and the process of your spiritual and vocational formation can be greatly enhanced by peer community that supports personal reflection, discernment & deep listening.

SKSM offers both low and high residency students the opportunity to form a Cohort Group and/or Peer Discernment Circle with fellow students.

Cohort Groups

A small group (4-6 students) organized among those in an entering class, usually meeting twice a month. Members of the group will determine the format, structure and timing of meetings. Sample formats are available from the office of the Acting Dean of Students and Community Life.

Peer Discernment Circles

If you have been introduced to the principles and practices of the Center for Courage and Renewal through a Circle of Trust Retreat, you are eligible to join a SKSM Peer Discernment Circle. Small groups of 5 – 6 students, meeting monthly via teleconference and/or in person, gather for personal reflection and insight, mutual sharing, deep listening, learning and accountability.   Circle of Trust Retreats are offered by the Center for Courage and Renewal across the country and are offered at SKSM approximately every other year.

For more information about the practices and principles used in Peer Discernment Circles:

If you need help finding or forming a Cohort Group or Peer Discernment Circle, contact our Acting Dean of Students and Community Life, Rev. Lindi Ramsden via email at

Please inform the Rev. Lindi Ramsden, Dean of Students and Community Life, of the primary contact person, members and meeting schedule of your Cohort Group or Peer Discernment Circle.  If your group includes low residency students, SKSM can help your group access SKSM’s Adobe Connect videoconference account for your meetings.

Vocation and Formation

A call to religious leadership opens up many vocational options. Below are some opportunities to help you to discern your own vocational path and link what you are learning to your sense of calling.

Formation Conversations

SKSM hosts occasional Formation Conversations, a monthly hour long video call, which offers     students an opportunity to engage in small group dialogue with religious leaders representing a wide variety of ministries and other career paths. Guests share their spiritual and vocational journey, their joys, challenges and reflections. Students have an opportunity to learn from respected religious leaders and reflect on their own journey. You are welcome to join in on any Formation Conversation that interests you.  Formation Conversations are announced in Starr King Today Facebook page and through Starr King This Week. They are coordinated by the office of the Acting Dean of Students and Community Life.

UU Network (“In Care”) Ministerial Formation

Students considering UU ministry are encouraged to participate in UU Ministerial Formation Network (formerly referred to as “In Care”) which offers support during your discernment process, collegial connection, and training that can supplement your seminary experience.

The UU Ministerial Formation Network seeks to nurture a quality of relationship in which seminarians feel nurtured and supported by their faith tradition rather than simply put through a series of credentialing hoops.

SKSM matches UU students with UU ministers who serve as your Vocational Advisor, joins with Pacific Southwest District seminarians at two Ministerial Formation retreats held at Camp DeBenneville Pines, and sponsors other events for UU students to explore their calling and build collegial connections.

What is a UU Vocational Advisor?

A UU minister in fellowship matched with an individual to encourage and support them in their journey of discernment and preparation for UU ministry. Your Vocational Advisor can help you to broaden your UU collegial network and knowledge of Unitarian Universalism, and support you along the path of preparation – academia, internships, CPE, and your interview with the Ministerial Fellowship Committee. Authentic conversation with UU ministerial colleagues help in the process of discerning your calling. Vocational Advisors and students make a one year commitment to meet monthly (video conference or in person). Each year, there is an opportunity for a new match if you would like to get to know another minister and/or type of ministry.

UU Ministerial Formation Retreats at Camp DeBenneville Pines

  • Fall Retreat: Oct 18-20, 2016
  • Spring Retreat: April 25-27, 2017

UU seminarians from SKSM and PSR are invited to join seminarians from the Pacific Southwest District at one or both of their two retreats at Camp DeBenneville Pines in the mountains east of LA. The retreat is free, including some support for transportation expenses. It is open to any student considering credentialed UU ministry who has already been paired with a Vocational Advisor.  Vocational Advisors do not generally attend the retreat.

UU Ministerial Formation Networks (started as regional “In Care” pilot programs) exist in several regions of the country. You can find an “In Care” Program Guide on the UUA website which includes links to pilot In Care programs in six other areas of the US 

To participate in the UU Ministerial Formation Network and get matched with a Vocational Advisor, please be in touch with Rev. Lindi Ramsden, Rev. Michelle Favreault, and Rev. Sofia Betancourt are also part of the SKSM UU Ministerial Formation Network Organizing Team.


Resources for Students Interested in UU Ministry

Unitarian Universalist Ministry is a life-changing and fulfilling profession. Serving in congregations, hospitals, the military, prisons, non-profits, entrepreneurial ministries, spiritual direction and the community, UU ministers help people explore life’s deepest questions and challenge us to be our best selves.

The process to become fellowshipped as a Unitarian Universalist minister involves a sustained commitment and a willingness to grow both professionally and personally.  The UU Ministerial Formation Network will help connect you to experienced UU clergy colleagues to support you in this process of discernment and preparation.  (See the section in this handbook on Vocation and Formation).

What is UU Ministerial Fellowship?

UU ministers are approved or “credentialed” for service by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA).  The UUA’s Ministerial Fellowship Committee (MFC) oversees the process of training and credentialing UU ministers.

To receive “Preliminary Fellowship” requires several preparatory stages prior to interviewing with the UUA Ministerial Fellowship Committee. Some important highlights are below. Full requirements for each stage are on the UUA webpage:

  • Applicant – submit on-line inquiry form:
  • Aspirant Status– interview by a UU minister & sponsorship of a UU congregation
  • Candidate Status – career assessment and supervised & evaluated fieldwork, CPE or internship

The Required Ministerial Competencies to receive preliminary fellowship are demonstrated through academic coursework, reading and field work experience. Students considering the Unitarian Universalist ministry should become familiar with the UUA Ministerial Fellowship Committee’s areas of competency.

Work with your academic advisor to design a course of study, field work and internships which will satisfy both the MFC’s competency requirements for credentialing as well as the Threshold Requirements for SKSM graduation.  Incorporate the MFC reading list into your studies!!

MFC Required UU Ministerial Competencies (new 2016 list):

  • Worship and Rites of Passage
  • Pastoral Care and Presence
  • Spiritual Development for Self and Others
  • Social Justice in the Public Square
  • Administration
  • Serves the Larger Unitarian Universalist Faith
  • Leads the Faith into the Future

Recent change in MFC requirements:  SKSM’s faculty member, the Rev. Sofia Betancourt, was part of the team that researched and recommended changes in the MFC required reading and competencies. In 2016, their recommendations were adopted, offering an updated reading list and clarifying the competencies (reduced from seventeen to seven)!

Depending on when you become an Aspirant, you can either use the new requirements and reading list (published in 2016) or the previous version (published in 2010).

“Any person who is in aspirant or candidate status prior to March 1, 2017 will have the option of preparing for ministerial fellowship using the pre-existing seventeen competencies and reading list, or, they may prepare for fellowship using the seven new competencies and the new embedded reading list. Any person who enters into aspirant status after March 1, 2017 will be held accountable to the new competencies and new embedded reading list.”
– UUA Department of Ministry

Career Assessment

All the info on the web! Get Familiar with These Resources!!!

Find information on scholarships, how to set up your required career assessment, asking for congregational sponsorship, internship clearing house, and the 2010 and 2016 versions of the MFC requirements and reading lists!

  • Requirements for Fellowship with the UUA (essential info!!)
  • Appendix with MFC Competencies, Reading List and Forms
    Note, this includes both the 2010 version and the updated 2016 versions of the required competencies.
    The reading list for the 2016 version is integrated into the requirements for each area of competency.

A career assessment is actuality is a more comprehensive personal, emotional, and psychological evaluation than the name implies. It is required for all aspirants at  enters accredited by the Ministry Development Council

The UUA Ministerial Credentialing Office strongly recommends that aspirants complete a career assessment as early in the process as possible.

“Aspirants will be asked to provide personal and biographical information and take a series of standardized tests. We encourage you to talk with the career center staff or the Ministerial Credentialing Director to gain a thorough understanding of what is involved. The center may need several months’ lead time, plus an additional month to produce its written summary report. The results are confidential. A written report will be released to the Ministerial Credentialing Office and the Ministerial Fellowship Committee and mailed to the Ministerial Credentialing Office only upon your written release.”

“We recommend you make use of the career center reports by sharing the results with advisors, mentors, CPE and internship supervisors, and anyone else who is in a position to give you additional feedback about the suitability of your vocational goals. It is in your best interest to check out possible areas of concern or “growing edges” by engaging in honest conversation with people who know you well.”

Program Assistance Grant of $1,000 is available to those with financial need to offset the costs of the career assessment.

Clinical Pastoral Education 

Much of what you get out of CPE depends on the quality of the supervisor. Pick an established program with a supervisor with a good reputation. Although the UUA will sometimes approve CPEs without ACPE accreditation, these programs can be uneven in quality and can be cancelled on short notice, leaving you without options. They are not recommended!  Be sure to discuss with your advisor your readiness for CPE. It is an intense and rich learning opportunity; you want to do this in the right place in your ministerial formation for maximum benefit. Take your CPE supervisor’s feedback seriously and discuss it with your academic advisor, vocational advisor and other mentors.

Ministerial Internships

An internship is an opportunity to grow into the identity and role of a minister. Full time internships must be for at least nine months. Part-time internships typically extend over a total of 18 months at a minimum of 15-20 hours per week. On site weekly supervision is to be provided by a UU minister in final Fellowship. For community-based internships, if the supervisor isn’t a Unitarian Universalist minister in final fellowship, a UU minister in final fellowship must be available for consultation and reflection and serve as a member of the intern committee.

Begin thinking about possible internships as soon as possible. Many congregations’ deadlines for internship applications are close to a year in advance. Make sure you know as much about prospective supervisors as you can before committing to an internship.

  • Check out congregations seeking interns at the UUA’s Internship Clearing House
  • Cultivate relationships with UU Ministers you admire. Sometimes it is possible to create a new internship opportunity.
  • Consult with your advisor or the Rev. Tera Little, Parish Internships Coordinator at SKSM

For those of you who are planning to do an internship in 2017-2018, you may want to consider creating a Prospective Intern profile so that sites that are looking for an intern can contact you. Register as a Prospective Intern.

Connecting with a Local UU Congregation

The UUA Ministerial Fellowship Committee (MFC) expects candidates to be able to demonstrate a deep understanding of, and experience with, UU congregational life based on at least two years active involvement.

All those preparing for fellowshipped UU ministry need to be sponsored by a Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregation in order to move into Aspirant status. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure familiarity on the part of new ministers with UU congregational life, and encourage congregations to take a responsible role in the recruitment, preparation and assessment of our future ministers.

If you would like help connecting with a local congregation, please contact the Acting Dean of Students and Community Life and/or speak with your advisor.

Pacific Central District: A full list of congregations in the Pacific Central District (where SKSM is located) can be found at

To find UU Congregations across the USA, consult the UUA’s Congregational Directory

Unitarian Universalist Ordination

Through congregational polity, each congregation has the right to ordain anyone it chooses; however, the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association discourage the ordination of those who have not had academic and practical training provided by an accredited theological school, and who have not been welcomed into preliminary fellowship through the UUA’s Ministerial Fellowship Committee.

UU Ministers Association (UUMA)

UUMA membership is open to students as soon as they reach Candidate status in the fellowshipping process. Acceptance of membership in the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association entails agreement by the member to abide by the UUMA’s Constitution & Bylaws and the Guidelines for the Conduct of Ministry.

Once in Candidate status, seminarians are able to attend UUMA chapter retreats, Ministry Days prior to General Assembly, the Institute for Excellence in Ministry and other programming.

The Mission of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association is to nurture excellence in ministry through collegiality, continuing education, collaboration, and shared commitment to antiracist, anti-oppressive, multicultural practice. We seek to be a primary resource for continuing education for our members, offering opportunities for seminars, workshops, mentoring and coaching. The UUMA promotes multiple models of collegiality, offering spaces for our members to gather in covenant that are shaped by a culture of vulnerability, intimacy, trust and accountability to one another. We seek to be a leader in guiding Unitarian Universalism in the work of anti-racism, anti-oppression and multiculturalism, and to collaborate and partner with other UU organizations to realize a shared vision for excellence in ministry.

Read the FAQs about the UUMA  here:

UUMA Chapters & Affinity Groups

There are 20 local chapters of the UUMA. Connecting with your local chapter is part of building a foundation of collegial connection. You can join your local chapter as soon as you are in Candidate status with the fellowshipping process and have become a member of the UUMA. There are also nine different affinity groups organized through the UUMA – from “pastor parents” to “prison ministries” and more.

The Pacific Central District UUMA Chapter, which includes the SF Bay Area, extends a warm welcome to SKSM students. Rev. John Buehrens is the liaison from the PCD UUMA Chapter to SKSM. He is an author, UU historian, former UUA President, and parish minister who is currently serving the UU Society of San Francisco. He can be reached at and is happy to speak with students.

UUA Resources for Students of Color

UUA Seminarians of Color group serves as a networking and support opportunity for seminarians who identify as people of African descent, Caribbean, Native/American Indian, Asian and Pacific Islander, Latina/o and Hispanic, Middle Eastern/Arab, Multiracial and Multiethnic Unitarian Universalists.

Each month during the academic year, we come together by conference call in order to share and support our lives as we navigate the road that leads to becoming ordained ministers in the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.

During our conference calls, we check-in with community, highlight joys/concerns, prayers, praises in an intentional space of love for one another through hospitality and grace.

We invite mentors, leaders, and theologians to our conference calls for their insights, guidance, and direction as we acknowledge the challenges of journey.

We share opportunities by which we can collectively join in face-to-face encounters such as the professionals of color retreat, UU General Assembly, and DRUUMM (Diverse Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries) Fall Conference. For more information contact:

Incentive grants are available to seminarians of color and those from historically marginalized communities in their first year of theological school by directly contacting the UUA Ministerial Credentialing Office. Grants to cover some costs associated with attending General Assembly are also available to assist seminarians of color.
Finding Our Way Home Annual Retreat welcomes religious professionals who identify as African, Caribbean, Native/American Indian, Asian and Pacific Islander, Latina/o and Hispanic, Middle Eastern/Arab, Multiracial and Multiethnic Unitarian Universalists. This retreat is hosted annually by the Multicultural Ministries staff and is a gift from the Diversity of Ministry Initiative. Ministers, religious educators, seminarians, and musicians gather to share in fellowship, collegial support, service, and deep personal connections.  More info here:
Thrive Young Adult: Leadership School for UU Young Adults of Color (ages 18 –35) Join other Unitarian Universalist Young Adults of Color (People of African Descent, Caribbean, Native/American Indian, Asian and Pacific Islander, Latina/o and Hispanic, Middle Eastern/Arab, Multiracial and Multiethnic) for a four day gathering to deepen our faith, lift our spirits, and build critical skills for leadership in the face of our uncertain, broken and beautiful world. All accepted participants will receive full travel, housing accommodations and food with paid registration. Registration scholarships are available. For more info contact:
DRUUMM (Diverse and Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries) is an anti-racist anti-oppressive organization for UU leaders of color which welcomes seminarians to participate in their activities on Facebook at (

Subscribe to Catalyst UUA Monthly newsletter from Multicultural Ministries

Introduce yourself to Rev. Janice Marie Johnson, Multicultural Ministries and Leadership Director of the UUA

UU & Interfaith Resources for Trans Seminarians

SKSM’s Trans* Team

SKSM’s Trans* Team
In the summer of 2016, with the goal of strengthening SKSM’s capacity to more fully include and support trans* and genderqueer students and educate to counter gender binary oppression, the Acting Dean of Students and Community Life recruited a team of trans* and cis gender colleagues from our SKSM faculty, staff, student body, and board. We are excited about embarking on this work. Feel free to be in touch with us as we work to bring SKSM to the next level of respect, compassion and witness in support of full inclusion of our trans* siblings!

SKSM Trans* Team Members

  • Rev. Sofia Betancourt, Associate Professor
  • Mr. Barb Greve, Chair, Board of Trustees
  • Rev. Lindi Ramsden, Acting Dean of Students and Community Life
  • Eli Poore, Student Member

TRUUsT: Transgender Religious Professional UUs Together

Are you a Unitarian Universalist minister, religious educator, or ministerial candidate in good standing with your professional organization (LREDA or UUMA)? Are you transgender, genderqueer, gender fluid, two spirit, intersex, agender, bigender, third gender, neutrois, or otherwise trans* in some way?

If so, you are warmly invited to join TRUUsT! Please email Rev. Sean Dennison at to get in touch. No matter where you are on your journey or how open you are about your gender identity/experience, we want to hear from you. Not yet in Candidacy Status with the UUMA, but want to connect with TRUUsT? Please join TRUUsT’s on-line mailing list.

TRUUsT’s Mission TRUUsT advocates for the gifts, safety, liberation, and leadership of trans religious professionals in Unitarian Universalist ministries and institutions. Our work to counter oppression includes but is not limited to dismantling racism, sexism, ableism, heterosexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, classism, ageism, colonialism, and sizeism.

TRUUsT Retreat: April 2016 was the first ever Retreat of UU Trans Professionals  Hopefully, it will become an annual event!

Transgender Religious Roundtable
Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion (CLGS)

Based out of the Pacific School of Religion, which is part of the Graduate Theological Union. CLGS and the Transgender Roundtable offer a number of lectures, events, and educational resources.

Trans* Seminarians Cohort:
A Year-Long Leadership Development Program

The National LGBTQ Task Force, Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion, and the Freedom Center for Social Justice, sponsor the Trans* Seminarians Cohort, a leadership program for transgender and genderqueer seminarians in the US.

“Each year, we offer a cohort experience for five seminary students, providing mentorship, peer support, and the opportunity to attend conferences and retreats sponsored by each of our organizations. In addition to these three face-to-face meetings, the group connects through monthly phone calls and on social media. All of the expenses to attend the programs are fully covered….  This is the only program that we are aware of that addresses the unique challenges and gifts of trans* seminarians.”

Applications to become part of the Trans* Seminarians Cohort are due by the end of April for the following academic year.


Requirements for Clinical Chaplaincy

Students who wish to pursue a career in clinical chaplaincy (hospitals, hospices, nursing facilities, etc.) must be informed about the requirements for certification. The general standards provided by the Association of Professional Chaplains, the largest credentialing organization, are as follows:

  1. Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
  2. Master’s degree in divinity/theological studies from an accredited institution, with a minimum of 48 earned credit hours for associate chaplains and 72 credit hours for board-certified chaplains, OR an approved equivalency.
  3. Current ordination, commissioning, or similar standing granted by an authorizing religious body.
  4. Current endorsement for chaplaincy by one’s faith tradition.
  5. A minimum of either two CPE units (associate chaplains) or four CPE units (board-certified chaplains).
  6. A minimum of 2,000 hours of work experience beyond the attainment of CPE units.

An alternative credentialing organization, the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy, shares requirements 1, 2, 4 and 5 and also adds the requirement of membership in a CPSP chapter.

This brief summary should not substitute for a student’s own in-depth research into chaplaincy training. For more information, visit the websites for the Association of Professional Chaplains ( or the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy (