On Jan. 28 at First Parish in Milton, Erik Resly was ordained into the Unitarian Universalist ministry. The sanctuary was packed with First Parish members, as well as many others who know and love Resly, and the ceremony was equal parts moving ritual and joy-filled celebration.
In the Unitarian Universalist faith, spiritual authority rests within all people. Thus, while the Unitarian Universalist Association approves ministers for ordination, the ordination itself is performed by the gathered congregation rather than by church officials. In this way, Resly was ordained and was charged by the congregation to “lead us and all people, as you have the opportunity, into the fuller knowledge of truth and the greater service of love.”
The ordination sermon was given by the Rev. Parisa Parsa, minister of First Parish and a mentor to Resly. Reflecting on the ministry that Resly was entering, she said, “Our job is to be the ones who hear the needs deeply and offer in response some confidence -- not an arrogant confidence of unwavering belief, but the deep trust of a faith that has changed our lives. And to equip others to do the same.”
She also quoted Barbara Brown Taylor, who said, “Ministry is not what you do but who you are.” She followed this by saying, “Erik, there is no doubt that ministry is who you are.”
Throughout the service, music was provided by The Music Committee, a new musical group committed to re-imagining and re-inspiriting Unitarian Universalist hymnody. The group is composed mostly of students at the Harvard Divinity School, including Resly himself on the bass guitar.
In addition to being a student, musician, and minister, Resly is a survivor of Crohn’s disease, and the ordination was attended by Dr. Vijay Yajnik, who once saved his life. A voluntary offering of nearly $2,500 was collected for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.
Following the ceremony, Resly expressed deep gratitude “to the many souls -- in body and in spirit -- who anointed me this past Saturday to the ministry.” Members of First Parish eagerly await Resly’s next steps as he embarks on this new stage of living out his calling.
Natalie Feulner can be reached at email@example.com.