Community Ministry has been around for centuries. It has been called community-based ministry, specialized ministry, public ministry, social ministry, ministers-at-large, the larger ministry or another name. Unitarian Universalist Community Ministers primarily serve beyond the context of a congregation: chaplains in hospitals and prisons, faculty members in seminaries, staff of social justice organizations, denominational staff, and/or self employed as therapists, spiritual directors, wedding officiants and consultants.
Community ministers are trained to participate in all the traditional forms of ministry such as worship, preaching, pastoral counseling, religious education, social witness and advocacy, and institutional leadership. Unlike their parish or religious education colleagues, community ministers experience a call to use these skills in different settings, often less visible to the congregation.
Community Ministers are urged to formally affiliate with a congregation in order to ground themselves in the support and accountability of a Unitarian Universalist covenantal community. This affiliation can also be beneficial to the congregation as it offers opportunities to share its mission with the wider community.
As part of the process for affiliation a Letter of Agreement was drawn up describing the parameters and expectations of each Community Minister, the Settled Minister, the board and the congregation. On June 4, 2017, our congregation covenanted with our community ministers, and the Rev. Fast and the Rev. Beard ceremonially signed the Letters of Agreement with our Board
President and Lead Minister, the Rev. Allison Farnum.
Reverend Suzanne Fast was ordained by our congregation in 2017. A cradle Unitarian Universalist, Rev Suzanne traces her call to ministry to the foundational lessons in meaning making learned in Religious Education. She is particularly interested in the spiritual journeying of adults and children, and the connections we make between our inward journeys, our daily lives, and our shared work for a just society. The primary focus of Reverend Fast’s ministry is disability-related social justice, advocacy, education, and pastoral ministry in the broader UU community and the public square. She is also a spiritual director in private practice. Around our church, you will find Rev. Suzanne occasionally facilitating a class or workshop, engaging in social justice work, or leading worship. She also may provide back up coverage to our Minister, the Rev. Allison Farnum.
Reverend Fast is a graduate of Meadville Lombard Theological School. Her certification as a Spiritual Director is from the Rice School for Pastoral Theology. Suzanne was fortunate to work on two sacred art projects with the Nyingma Institute, where she studied for many years, and which lives on in her interest in creative expression as spiritual practice. Since 2010, she has served in a variety of leadership roles for EqUUal Access, whose mission is to enable the full engagement of people with disabilities in Unitarian Universalist communities and the broader society. She is a facilitator in the UUA’s Beyond Categorical Thinking Program, and served on the Accountability Group for Justice GA 2012. Her passion for youth, young adult, and campus ministry traces back to her own experiences and her service in the leadership of the Continental UU Young Adult Network many years ago.
Suzanne has a background in business and Human Resources. She enjoys watching baseball, cooking, and tending the occasional tomato plant. She and her husband share their home with two imperious and impish cats.
Reverend Fast is disabled and conducts her ministry on a limited, part-time basis.
Reverend Margaret L. Beard is a life-long Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist. In 2016 she retired from full-time parish ministry and is delighted to be a part-time community minister affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers, FL. The focus of her ministry is consulting with congregations, leading worship services, coaching lay and professional leaders, officiating at weddings, and creating fiber art liturgical vestments. Over the years her fiber art has been exhibited in juried art shows and galleries in the southeastern United States. In addition to her ministry outside of the congregation, at UUCFM she will preach occasionally, teach a class or workshop and will provide some back up coverage for Reverend Allison Farnum.
Rev. Beard received her Master of Divinity Degree from Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, IL. Before she retired she served Unitarian Universalism for over 20 years first as UUA staff developing print, web and training resources for new and growing congregations and later as a parish minister in congregations in Georgia, North Carolina and Florida. She is the co-editor of the book All Are Chosen: Stories of Lay Ministry and Leadership, the editor of Listening for Our Song and the co-editor of the web based edition of the UUA Congregational Handbook.
Margaret also has a Master of Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis, MO. Earlier in her adult life she was a clinical social worker who directed community-based programs for people with a serious mental illness. Margaret lives in Fort Myers, FL and is married to Rick Eddy, a musician.