“In formation.” What a wonderfully complicated phrase! You might read it and think of the military or football. Maybe you’re hearing Beyoncé’s Grammy-award winning song?

For religious professionals, “formation” refers to the process of becoming a minister. If you search the phrase “ministerial formation” online, you will find it expressed as an essential part of seminary training, but you will not find a clear answer for what it is. Ministerial formation resists definitions. It’s amorphous, qualitative, unpredictable, and messy. It’s a process of Sankofa, an Akan word that means to go back and fetch the lessons in your life that you had not yet learned. It’s also a process of letting go of those things you have been carrying that you are now ready to set down. And to be sure, it’s a process of learning theology, administration, psychology, liturgy, and more. But mostly, formation is process itself. Ministerial formation is a continuous unfolding that equips the religious professional to be wholly present for and with a community.

As I get to know this beautiful community at First Church, you will see me showing up in more spaces and places, such as Membership, Worship, Pastoral Care, Social Justice, and Administration. This is part of an intentional process guided by the Unitarian Universalist Association and Meadville-Lombard Theological School to ensure that I learn what I need to show up with competence and presence to the congregation I serve someday. I give thanks for this opportunity to journey with you.

We are, all of us, in formation. We are each given this day to show up in the world as authentic and loving people, present for and with others. What a great gift that is. How sad it would be if we were fully baked, with no possibility for learning or change in our lives!  We gather at First Church to continually form ourselves, to hold ourselves and one another in loving connection. And we have a great roadmap for our formation: we engage our minds, nurture our spirits, and inspire action.

Dear ones, let’s get in formation.

Steve Sieck, Ministerial Intern

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