Blessings to Our Newly Ordained Ministers October 2023

The new church year always brings a burst of busyness and excitement for me. I am occupied trying to discern what if any new trends are surfacing among our congregations, ministers and leaders. For many congregations August ushered in the arrival of newly settled ministers. For others, congregational staff have been busy over the summer reviewing and refreshing, some evaluating the resulting attrition from the pandemic and busy breathing vitality into congregational life. Perhaps worship has been tweaked and the liturgy now includes new components or maybe some elements have been removed. If you are lucky, growth required a new way of doing joys and concerns. If you are among the congregations that had to downsize to part time ministry, or no minister, or to reduce the number of services, there will be some push back and adjustments to the changes.


Leaving behind the safety of familiar practices and dealings within ministry, we recognize that while only the Ministerial Fellowship Committee (MFC) can grant preliminary fellowship, congregational polity allows UU congregations the right to ordain whomever they deem worthy. We are pleased and proud to recognize five newly ordained ministers into our midst. It is my honor and pleasure to welcome the following individuals into the small and distinguished body of Black UU clergy women. Your hard work and dedication have qualified you to assume the title of Reverend, Pastor, Minister as conveyed by the MFC.

• • •

We speak your names:

Rev. Petra Thombs

Rev. Jane Davis

Rev. Latifah Griffin

Rev. Althea Smith

Rev. Dianne Daniels

• • •


May your ministries be long and fruitful.

May you know your value and worth.

May your vision guide your passion and your wisdom direct your path.

May you be unencumbered by life’s distractions as you bring the best of yourselves to your ministries.

Ministry can be a lonely calling as our new UUA President, Rev. Dr. Sofia Betancourt recently reminded us at Rev. Chris Long’s powerful ordination ceremony. She stated, “There is a loneliness that lives at the center of our callings.”

May you nurture supportive environments filled with friends, family, self-care and spiritual practices that balance your callings.

We welcome you! We welcome all of who you are and all that you will share.

May it be so and Blessed Be!

Rev. Qiyamah A. Rahman

• • •

(Sometimes a lay led congregation will ordain an individual that has been functioning in a ministerial role. I have known instances when a lay person was ordained so that they could perform weddings, memorial services and represent the congregation in public functions. I have met some fine Commissioned Lay Ministers. But that is not the case here. I will talk more about that in a future post.)

Answering the Question October 2020

Hi Joseph, Mark, Mark, Takiya and Michelle:

I trust each of you is well and safe. I have chosen each of you very carefully because of who you are and because I admire how you show up in the world.

I would like to pick your brains about an idea that I have had for some time. It is a website devoted to Black UU women’s artistic and scholarly pursuits. It would be a “gathering” place for their/our voices and works. I see it as the premier location that would draw UUs and others that want to contribute to the small but growing body of works by/for/about Black UU women and girls. It would become a place that would include: research and funding sources, interviews, advice column, music, art, a roving camera, blogs, and different genres of Black women and girls’ expressive works that provide a glimpse into our lives.

My question is, at this point and time in UU history, should I restrict it to Black UU women and girls or should I create a website for UUs of Color and Latinx women and girls?

I need to pose this question before I get ready to hit the go button. I am actually “interviewing” freelancers to build the website. But I decided to pause because I realize this is bigger than me and I do not want to look back years from now and regret having claimed too small or too large a vision. It never occurred to me to do a personal website because that is too small and I want to gather Black UU women’s and girls’ voices.

It is time. It is past time. I cannot tell you what it felt like to research white women’s entry into UU ministry and to find so much history they have documented and books they have produced about their journey. The envy I felt as a writer and researcher, knowing how I had to scrape to find the smallest bit of info about Black clergy women. And not even having benefit of basic information like how many of us there are. And finally realizing that we would have to create what I was looking for because it did not exist.

Even as I am writing and reflecting I am getting clearer that I must devote this website strictly to Black UU women (femme, transgender, womxn, non-binary) otherwise, the tendency is to go broad and compromise the depth and richness. And that is not what I want. I want deep, deep, rich, rich conversations and research and thoughtful analyses. Going broad will not produce that.

When I say this is my legacy work I am not just saying some words. This is what I am creating and leaving as a representation of my life. Besides my three children, the work I am doing as a writer, griot and researcher is my next most important contribution. Just as I am reading and poring over others’ works I know one day others will discover my words and read, reflect and form an opinion of who I was and what I attempted to do. I want to know I left something of quality. I want others to feel what I feel when I discover information that broadens my understanding and awareness about Black UUs and their presence. I want them to feel that pride and connection that I feel when I read about the champions and superstars and everyday individuals that came before me.

Another practical reason to restrict and narrow the focus on Black UU women and girls is the data base in my brain and on my laptop is becoming so extensive that I cannot stay on top of it. I cannot manage it. I must organize all this information while the neurons are still firing. I was going to share the basic “proposal” I had put together but I cannot find it. None of the possibilities that come to mind have caused it to surface. Right now this is a matter of having too much info in my head and needing to empty some of it out. The website allows for that. But I have been around long enough to speak to elders that I interviewed in the early 2000s who now have some memory loss due to the natural aging process or are suffering from dementia. I do not want to leave it to chance that my efforts will be catalogued.

I should probably delete this email because I have answered the question for myself that I originally posed to each of you. But sharing my thoughts helps me stay connected to each of you in ways that this pandemic seeks to sever.

Qiyamah A. Rahman