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President's Column

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If we agree in love, there is no disagreement that can do us any injury, but if we do not, no other agreement can do us any good. Let us endeavor to keep the unity of the spirit in the bonds of peace.” 

Hosea Ballou

This is the quote my breakout group thought of as we discussed our future during the Town Hall meeting on March 4th. Thank you to all 40 of you who attended. Much of the feedback mirrored Ballou and a willingness to take on the future. What you asked most clearly of the board was – communicate! We are glad there is a process – show it to us and keep us posted. So, today I give you a basic DRAFT timeline.

As I hope I made clear to those who attended the Town Hall Meeting –four important words at this time are DRAFT (it’s a work in progress – nothing is written in stone), UNCERTAINTY (we are going to be exploring our vision of our future together during our search), there is a PROCESS which is outlined by the UUA, and finally, what we are seeking for our future is a good FIT – someone who can live with us and who fulfills what we want most from our new minister.  

Your Board is now educating itself about process. So far, we are thinking to go with an interim minister and have formed a task force to seek one. This is Board work and your congregational vote is not required, though as you know, questions and concerns are always welcome. Members of the Interim Task Force are: David Hawley, Holley Haymaker, Donna Yelverton, Glenda Parks and Don Hoppe

By mid-April we will submit to the UUA our application for an interim. We probably want someone for 18 months. We will choose this person by November and they will begin when Steve leaves, in January. They will take on the role of Senior Minister and MTL (Ministry Team Leader, that is, head of church administration). The exact tasks will be determined. What is clear about an interim is that they agree to not become a candidate for Senior Minister, not stay for more than two years, and will not discuss prospective candidates. They will, however, help with congregational discernment about what sort of church we are, want to be, what are our strengths, challenges, and what sort of person would be best to guide us in the future. The Interim will be assisted in this work with an Interim Transition Committee – to be recruited from the congregation.  

Early spring, 2019, we will recruit a slate and ask you to vote on a Search Committee for the Senior Minister. There are different ways to form this committee. Keep in mind this is not the only committee we will need over the next couple of years of transition. One committee will be a group to help organize a great good bye for Steve. 

The Search Committee does further discernment about what sort of person would best serve us as leader. This is a big job.  The UUA says think of a time investment of 400 hours. They are helped in this by a coach from the UUA. There will be surveys, cottage meetings, all kinds of discussions. They then put together a packet describing us and what we want from our next leader. This is due in fall of 2019.

Meanwhile, Nathan continues as Associate Minister. If he wishes to be considered for Senior Minister, he would be what is termed an Inside Candidate. That means he gets the first chance to look at the packet and the offer that the Search Committee has put together. If he chooses to be a candidate, he puts together his own packet of information including sermons and evaluations of the roles he has performed in the church, etc. This is what any candidate must do. The Search Committee gets this in early 2020. The Search Committee will do some sort of pre-candidating process with him. If the Search Committee thinks he is a good choice to be our Senior Minister, he will be invited to go through the full candidating week of interviews, meetings with different groups, sermon, etc. At the end of this week, the congregation gathers and votes on his candidacy, just as we would with an outside candidate. 

If he does not choose to be a candidate the Search Committee looks at the applications of other potential candidates, does some phone interviews, and invites 3 or 4 of those who have indicated interest in our congregation and who look interesting to us. Each will come for a pre-candidate weekend with the Search Committee. This will include dinners and meetings with the Search Committee and a sermon at a “neutral pulpit” about 1 to 2 hours away.

The Search Committee then does further homework on the pre-candidates (background checks, calls to previous congregations, etc.) and ranks their choices. These are submitted to the UUA. Meanwhile the UUA asks the interviewed candidates to rank the congregations. In mid-March the UUA announces the results of the match between minister and church rankings. According to UUA sources, matches are more likely to be successful if there has been an interim.

Assuming there’s a match, that candidate comes for the intense candidating week with the congregation followed by a vote. If hired, he or she will begin around August 2020. No, it will probably not happen faster than this. Yes, this can be confusing. To help we will put a copy of the 2 Handbooks from the UUA Ministry Office out for your perusal by the Board bulletin board. Yes, we are an attractive congregation but indeed, there is much work to be done.