Gift for new ministers?
January 25, 2012 11:53 AM   Subscribe

What does a new minister need to start their job? Stoles, robes, books? What has been helpful for you?

I have two close friends who will be graduating from seminary and joining the ministry (UU specifically) in the next couple of years.

I'm really excited for them and want to mark the occasion with special, useful gifts that they'd have a hard time funding themselves.

I will probably take up a small collection for them, so something around $300 would be reasonable.

Anyone have any ideas? I can ask them but I'd like it to be a surprise if possible.

It would be okay if they got the same thing if there's something obvious that they'll both need, but ideally I would find two different things that were about equal in value.

Thank you!
posted by the young rope-rider to Religion & Philosophy (11 answers total)
It depends on the denomination (and I'm not sure about UU), but clericial uniforms (collared shirts, etc), robes and stoles are expensive and would be a great gift for someone entering ministry. Stoles in particular can be nice because there are so many different kinds available (for different times of the year, different designs and fabrics) and you could find something really beautiful your friends could wear for a lifetime.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:59 AM on January 25, 2012

UUs might appreciate stoles. But some UU ministers hold that you shouldn't wear a stole until you have been ordained by a congregation, so you would need to check whether that was appropriate. Along the same lines, a good set of robes might be useful. Not many UUs wear dog collars, but that might still be an appropriate gift, depending on the recipient.

Several ministers I know use Kindles or iPads when taking services.

Otherwise you could get custom chalice jewellery (or cufflinks?) or books.
posted by plonkee at 12:03 PM on January 25, 2012

You're not crafty, are you? When our minister was installed a member of our church (UU) who does a lot of quilting made a beautiful stole for her. In any case, I'd agree that a stole would be an excellent, meaningful present for a UU minister, whether or not it was made by the giver, and is probably within your budget.
posted by tully_monster at 12:06 PM on January 25, 2012

My hometown (UU) minister graduated from seminary just after she joined us part-time. The fellowship collectively got her a stole, but I think a lot of it depends on how formal/casual they are as ministers, and what the atmosphere of their new churches/fellowships is like. Some ministers give sermons in more casual clothes and only put on a robe and stole for things like weddings (ours was like this), and some wear them every Sunday.

I think a lot of it depends on where they'll be working. For some, getting them a nice oil-burning chalice would be amazing, but if they're going into an established congregation, they'll already have one.

I think they'll already have/be getting more chalice jewelry than they'll know what to do with.

Maybe a gift certificate to a UU-specific book seller? Or registration/travel to the UU General Assembly (again, if their congregation doesn't cover it)?
posted by supercres at 12:09 PM on January 25, 2012

You might find something here.
posted by tully_monster at 12:12 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think a stole would be good, but plonkee's advice should be heeded. Books are almost always a good gift, but without knowing a bit about the recipients and/or the congregations that they may be going to, it's tough to recommend any specific titles.

If I were to offer a generalized suggestion about books, I'd say to check out the offers from Beacon Press, though there is probably a good chance that they've already got at least a few of these simply because they're just out of seminary.
posted by asnider at 12:23 PM on January 25, 2012

I think you should get them a nice Kitchen-Aid, because if they don't have one, they will probably really like this. UU ministers don't really make bank, so something practical yet pricey could be perfect. If you need the gift to be UU-specific, I'd be happy to enamel-paint a flaming chalice on the side of it for you. I also second the kindle/iPad idea!
posted by Greg Nog at 12:40 PM on January 25, 2012 [8 favorites]

A stole sounds nice; but as for collecting donations towards a gift, it would depend on both who was asking and why. If you are part of their current congregation, asking others IN that current congregation, or a relative of one of these new ministers asking other relatives, it might be okay; a friend asking other friends for donations might be a little more iffy, and a coworker asking around a secular workplace would definately be a no-no.

As for specific gift ideas: especially if they've already been doing the minister's equivilent of student teaching and supplying pulpits, they've probably already got at least one robe, but there's always the the possibility they'd want to upgrade to a nicer one. As asnider says, it would be hard to tell what *specific* book titles they don't already have but would like, so a gift certificate would be better. Cufflinks or other jewelry are nice, but would it be something they'd like & use, or just tossed in a jewelry box and forgotten? Perhaps just take them out to a really nice dinner instead.
posted by easily confused at 1:02 PM on January 25, 2012

What about a good study bible or concordance?
posted by ThisKindNepenthe at 11:45 PM on January 25, 2012

Response by poster: Great ideas!

Where do ministers get their robes? Is there a good ministerial supply store?

If you are part of their current congregation, asking others IN that current congregation, or a relative of one of these new ministers asking other relatives, it might be okay;

Yup! And this has already been bandied about as an idea in the close-knit communities I'm a part of, someone just needs to coordinate it and get everyone moving. We will probably provide the bulk of the funding, but I think having the feeling of concrete support from as many people as possible is important when embarking on a new journey (both literal and metaphorical) and a lot of people contributing to a gift is one way to achieve that.

Thanks everyone!
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:29 AM on January 26, 2012

You could ask your current (more experienced) minister where he/she gets robes and such: what places they recommend and what places they most definately don't recommend. They'll probably also be able to help with suggestions for styles, colors and prices.
posted by easily confused at 12:13 PM on January 26, 2012

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