Certification Program

Update on Certification

UUAMP Certification materials are ready for an update, and a task force will be forming this fall to begin the process of review and, where necessary, of substituting newer materials. Therefore, UUAMP will hold off on registering new participants in the Certification Program until the task force has completed their review.
UUAMP members interested in participating in the Certification program update process may contact Kristin Cleveland, UUAMP Vice President, at clc@uuschenectady.org


Bring Out the Best in Your Congregation

Why Certification?

Benefits to the Professional

  • NForm and structure for one’s professional development
  • NGain skills and understandings across areas of your work
  • NNurtures confidence, competence, and creativity
  • NOpportunities for collegiality and networking
  • NHelps membership professionals understand their work as a ministry

Benefits to the Congregation

  • NProvides training and resources unavailable at congregational level
  • NPromotes professional excellence
  • NFosters healthy staff relations and shared ministry
  • NSupports congregational growth

Benefits to the Profession

  • NEstablishing standards and best practices elevates the position across the board
  • NParity with religious educators and musicians

Benefits to the Unitarian Universalism

  • NMembership professionals provide expertise that fosters growth as a movement
  • NProfessional network shares broadly and generously with staff and lay leaders

Our Certification Program Is...


  • NSpecific to the work you are doing
  • NAbility to choose modules that meet your learning needs and goals (for certified status, you must complete a predetermined number of modules)


  • NEach unit is designed for completion in 10-15 hours
  • NEfforts are being made to provide the majority of the learning module options at limited or no cost


  • NVariety of formats and options
  • NAvailable for part-timers and lead volunteers
  • NIn-person training opportunities will be coordinated with pre-GA Professional Day or in conjunction with regional events

Certification FAQs

  1. I have been doing this job a long time. Can I be “grandfathered” in?  No matter how long one has done this job, there is always more to learn. Many of us do not take the time to read books, watch webinars or utilize other continuing education opportunities. We will continue to update our resources and program to make sure that we are providing those who go through the program the best possible educational experience.  Each individual will have the flexibility to determine the resources best suited to their position and their professional development needs in order to complete the portfolio requirements.   
  2. How will I find time to go through this? We hope that your congregation will be supportive of you while you complete this program. Ideally you would get study leave to focus on the program, but work with your supervisor on what will be best for you and your congregation. Some people prefer to work on one competency a month, which would be approximately about 3 to 4 hours a week. However, we understand that for some with limited work hours available to them, it may take longer. One suggestion would be to ask for a regular time to work through the process, possibly at home so you aren’t interrupted during your work. 
  3. Will I be able to see what other people share in the program? We will ask participants to give permission to share their own congregational resources. These documents will be shared on the UUAMP website. A large part of the certification program will be writing reflection papers on the different competencies. These papers may be very personal, and so they will not be made public. 
  4. How will I be supported through the program? You will have a contact who you can directly ask questions to. In addition, we will have weekly hour long zoom chats focusing on one competency per month, led by someone who has completed that competency. This will hopefully help you prioritize the work. UUAMP will also support this work through focusing on these topics and resources for their continuing education programs. 
  5. The portfolio requirements are mostly writing papers. Can I show my skills and knowledge in other ways? Absolutely! You are welcome to be very creative in this process. If you would prefer to video blog the answers, create a video or something else entirely, do feel free. Our hope is to provide you with opportunities to  educate yourself  about best practices in the field, and  think about that knowledge and how to incorporate it into your specific role so that you can increase your professionalism, not simply to write papers. You will be asked to submit something to your advisor at the end of each competency.
  6. Some of the portfolio task questions speak to areas that I don’t have responsibility over. Do I still have to complete those portfolio tasks? If your congregation doesn’t have a caring ministry, for example, you can adapt the question to considering why your congregation doesn’t have one and what it would take to create one. This isn’t to force you to create a program, but rather spend some time reflecting upon whether your congregation would find value in having one. If there are areas asked about in the program that you do not have responsibility for facilitating, acknowledge that, but also make sure you know enough about the area that it allows you to inform others in your congregation about the program as well as make appropriate referrals.
  7. How much will this cost? Is there scholarship money? One of the goals of the program is to make this accessible to everyone, which means keeping the costs as low as possible, which will be $250 for the entire program. We are hopeful that congregations will support UUAMP members to go through the certification program, not only of the time they will focus on it, but also any costs related to completion. For those whose congregations cannot financially support them, we envision having a scholarship fund available to assist with the costs. While we will certainly encourage participants to participate in as many in-person gatherings and trainings as possible, we will also strive to  create an accessible program through the use of many online resources. 
  8. The first competency is really long! Will they all be that length? We feel that the first competency is the most important one for everyone who does this work. Each competency has varying lengths, but the first one is the longest. You may also find that it is the one many of us are most passionate about, so it may be the easiest for you to respond to. 
  9. Do I need to work on the competencies in order? How should I work on each one? You can choose to go in whatever order you prefer as each competency stands alone. Within each competency, you may explore the resources first and then go back to write the portfolio questions. You may also choose to write out an initial draft for the portfolio questions, then go through the resources and then add information to the questions, based on what you learned. 
  10. How do I choose which resources I should focus on? You might be tempted to start at the top of the resource list and work your way down, but you will likely get overwhelmed quickly. The resource lists are broken out into topics, so try to focus on several from each topic within each competency. Some are listed as “recommended” to help prioritize, but only you know what information you need the most. While the books and webinars take the most time, try to fit in some as they usually have the most concrete ideas as well as inspiration. One person watched quite a few webinars while walking on the treadmill. 
  11. How long will the program take me? We hope that you will be able to complete the certification program with a year, which would be completing one competency every two months (four core plus two choice). This program is mostly self-directed, so you will need to determine what will work best within your circumstances.

The Value of In Person Training Programs

In our attempt to stay true to our goals of providing a Certification Program that is applicable, attainable and accessible, we have chosen not to require in person trainings or gatherings.   However, we do highly encourage participation in group and in-person trainings when possible. Here are some reasons why:

  • There is magic in the relationships formed when we connect with others who are passionate about the work we do. While we may learn a great deal from self-study, we find that  inspiration often comes from interaction with others.
  • Idea sharing builds more powerfully when we are in relationship with others doing the same work.
  • When we gather together for in person programming, we are exposed to others involved in shared ministry. Having opportunities to meet with Religious Educators, Music Directors and Ministers allows us to gain a broader perspective of the importance of Membership Professionals working in concert with each other.
  • When we participate in district, regional and/or national training programs, we are  invigorated by the connection we have to our larger UU faith movement. 


Program Completion Requirements

Must complete all requested information from the four core competencies as well as at least two choice competencies.

For each competency, you will spend approximately 10-15 hours learning new information and discerning how your congregation operates. You will do this through:

  • Reflection papers: the committee is open to the option of multimedia ways of sharing information that could include a video diary, videos, blogs or another way as requested
  • Check in with certification coordinator as needed
  • Webinars and other online work
  • Readings/books


  • Visit a Unitarian Universalist congregation other than your own and write a reflection about your experience. Ideally you will visit a congregation larger than your own to experience what is next for your congregation.
  • Attend General Assembly, Regional Assembly or a UUAMP gathering and write a reflection about your experience. If you are unable to attend in person, attend off site or via livestream.
  • Meet with other Membership Professionals, either through a regional or district gathering, national gathering or through individual one on one meeting at least once through program. If you can’t do  this in person, attend a book group discussion or other video chat activity. Write a reflection about your experience.

Evaluative Summary Conversation or Written Reflection

To be held at the end of program completion with a panel of three UUAMP members.
Consider these questions for your conversation:

    • How have you been impacted from going through the certification program?
    • What was beneficial and what wasn’t beneficial?
    • What were you challenged by?
    • What surprised you?
    • How will you share the information you learned, whether with your congregation, board, region or other appropriate groups
  • Portfolio will be reviewed by a 3 person panel who will determine whether you have fulfilled the requirements.
  • At each Professional Day we will formally recognize those who have completed the certification process.


UUAMP Certification Committee, UUAMP Advisors and Certification Participants

“I do not believe that we can put into anyone ideas which are not in [them] already. As a rule there are in everyone all sorts of good ideas, ready like tinder. But much of this tinder catches fire, or catches it successfully, only when it meets some flame or spark from outside, from some other person…Thus we have each of us cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flames within us. If we had before us those who have thus been a blessing to us and could tell them how it came about, they would be amazed to learn what passed over from their life into ours.”--Albert Schweitzer

Our work together springs from our mutual passion for professional development for membership professionals. Upon that foundation we build this covenant.

  • The goal of creating a certification program that will be applicable, attainable and accessible will serve as our primary and ultimate guide.
  • We value mutuality, collegiality and collaboration, therefore we promise to bring open hearts and open minds to our work together.
  • We promise to listen even when it is hard and to speak the truth as we see it, even when it is hard.
  • We will practice and cultivate honesty, trust and appropriate vulnerability.
  • We are responsible to one another for the success of this program, therefore together we promise to hold one another accountable for effective participation.
  • We promise to ask for help, to be open to help and to offer help when it would be beneficial.

Committee Members

  • We commit to creating a certification program that is applicable, attainable and accessible.
  • We commit to appreciating the dedication of our participants and advisors, understanding that a significant amount of time and work will be involved in this process.
  • We commit to being available to advisors to answer questions and concerns throughout the process.
  • We commit to being responsive to the comments and criticisms of the participants and advisors.


  • I commit to communicating with the person I am advising at least monthly, and additionally as needed for the time period allotted.
  • I commit to following up with the Certification Committee Chair (currently Marie Luna at marie@fvuuf.org) with updates on progress of participants and their completion of the competency, concerns and feedback.


  • I commit to being a UUAMP member in good standing.
  • I commit to communicating with my advisor at least monthly I will work with my advisor to determine a mutually agreeable method of communication. Furthermore, I commit to contacting my advisor at any point along the process if I am unable to complete a task.
  • I commit to thoughtfully complete the requested evaluations.
  • I commit to doing my best to completing the certification program within a year.


List of Competencies

Click here to view what's included with each competency

List of Competencies

Fostering a Culture of Welcome (Core)

Membership as Ministry
Visitor experience
Creating a membership committee or team
ARAOMC (Anti-racism, Anti-oppression, Multiculturalism)

Building a Community of Belonging (Core)

Understanding your congregation (past, present and future)
Creating a culture of belonging
The membership process
Engagement tracking

UU History and Identity (Core)

Your Congregation's History
Unitarian, Universalist, and UU History
Congregational Polity
Understanding the process of building UU identity
Future Trends

Boundaries (Core)

Your Position
Right Relations and Professional Ethics
Self Care and Time Management
Systems and Conflict
Staff Relations
Accountability and Supervision

Administration & Volunteer Management (Choice)

Volunteer management
Administration, including Database

Engagement (Choice)

Small Group Ministry
Program Development

Integration and Leadership (Choice)

Leadership Development
Meeting Management
Understanding the Governance Culture
Strategic Planning and Identity

Pastoral Care (Choice)

Expectations of and communication with minister
Volunteer pastoral care team
Mental Health awareness

Communications and Social Media (Choice)

Congregational communication vehicles - print and web
Social media

Stewardship (Choice)

Stewardship as ministry
Understanding your congregation's stewardship culture
Stewardship data tracking
Membership experience

Fostering a Culture of Welcome (Core)

Boundaries (Core)

Integration & Leadership (Choice)

Building a Community of Belonging (Core)

Administration & Volunteer Management (Choice)

Pastoral Care (Choice)

Stewardship (Choice)

UU History and Identity (Core)

Engagement (Choice)

Communications & Social Media (Choice)