Last fall at about the same time that the Ministerial Search Committee shared our reports on the Congregational Survey and the Cottage Meetings with the congregation, we put the finishing touches on a “Congregational Record” describing our church, our congregation, our accomplishments and our hopes and aspirations for the future. Your responses in the Cottage Meetings and Congregational Survey were essential to this work.
This 59-page Congregational Record was approved by the UUA Transitions Office and posted to the UUA Search Portal on November 30 as our official call for applications for a new settled minister. In addition, we prepared an online Documents Packet containing some 30 documents, including our bylaws, descriptions of staff positions, examples of orders of service, the survey and cottage meeting reports, etc., as well as links to several videos about our church to be shared with each minister who applied to our congregation.
Many Interested in the Position
On January 2, the UUA released ministers’ applications to churches in search. This year 58 eligible ministers applied for congregations in settled search. While most congregations received between 9-15 applications, First Church received more than the average number of applicants. Each submitted a “Ministerial Record” of some 25-30 pages, covering their ministerial experience, skills and personal life. They explained if or how they: served a congregation; conducted worship, pastoral care and religious education; dealt with conflict; and engaged in social justice, anti-racism and interfaith community work. They described their theology and role in a congregation like ours with multiple theologies, and they looked to the future of Unitarian Universalism.
We reviewed the Ministerial Records, contacted references (by Zoom of course!), examined ministers’ websites, and looked at past sermons online. Eventually we narrowed our attention to seven ministers, each of whom we interviewed as a committee over Zoom. Based on all of this information, we have finally selected three “pre-candidates.” Phew!
Because we need to maintain confidentiality, we are not able to share specific information about the pre-candidates, but we can state that ALL of them are excellent ministers. Our most important decision: Will this minister be a good match with our congregation?
We have contacted our three pre-candidates to continue with us in the second round of interviews. Because of the pandemic the Search Committee will spend time with each of them virtually — again via Zoom — on different weekends. Those weekends will include meetings with the pre-candidates, virtual visits to “neutral” congregations where they will preach and a final conversation after the service.
As we continue the process of discerning which minister is the best match for our congregation, we continue to rely on the opinions and recommendations you provided in the Congregational Survey, Cottage Meetings and focus groups.