As spring approaches, the pace behind the scenes at church feels like it is picking up speed. We are busily getting ready for our Annual Meeting on April 28 and planning for the upcoming ministerial transition. On March 10, we hosted a well-attended discussion of the process we can look forward to during the next few years. We heard from some folks who had been through a transition before and were able to answer many questions. The UUA has a well thought–out process to help congregations move through a change. Although change brings endings, it also brings opportunity and new beginnings. We now have a chance, as a congregation, to look carefully at ourselves and to build on the work and community which we have established during the time that Mark and Andrea have been with us. The Parish Committee has been in touch with the UUA and has been assigned a transition coach. We are preparing now for the steps ahead. Because change brings uncertainty, we thought it was important that the entire congregation know what the expected process will look like in the next two years. The following is a handout which we used at the March 10thmeeting which outlines what to expect.
Interim Ministry Search Process: Notes on 3/10 discussion with Parish Committee
Phase 1 Saying Goodbye and Preparing for an Interim Ministry
Mark announces retirement
Parish Committee Submits Notice of Ministerial Transition to UUA
Consultation with Regional UUA Staff/UUA
December – March, 2019
Church Website Review
Feb- June, 2019
Exit Interviews by UUA
Interim Ministry Application
Due April 17, 2019
Applications for Interim position received and candidate Interviews by Parish Committee
May 1- May 11, 2019
Celebration of end of Ministry
June 9, 2019 in the afternoon
June 30, 2019
Mark on vacation available for emergency ministerial needs
July 1-31, 2019
Interim Ministry begins
August 1, 2019
What is an Interim Ministry?
Most people think of interim ministry as transitional ministry, and it is that. A congregation moves from one settled ministry to its next settled ministry with the help of an interim minister, who assists the congregation on this journey.
The interim minister(s) assists the congregation in moving beyond its last ministry and equipping itself for a new, different ministry. This preparation involves helping the congregation look at practices that may or may not be serving them well, assisting through the emotional process of transition, setting sights forward, and connecting the congregation to needed resources. The interim minister is hired by the Parish Committee. Interim ministers may not be called by the congregation.
From Transitional Ministry Handbook: A Guide for Congregations and Ministers found at https://www.uua.org/sites/live-new.uua.org/files/transitional_ministry_handbook.pdf
Phase 2 First Interim Year – Preparation for Search
Meeting with transitional coach from UUA on Search process with Congregation
February – April, 2020
Approve Budget for Search Committee
Search Committee Selection
April- June, 2020
Search Committee Retreat with UUA consultant to learn about Search Process
How is a Search Committee for a Settled Minister Formed?
The search committee should represent the entire congregation.
- The search committee should be trusted by the congregation.
- The search committee should be in touch with the changing nature of the congregation.
- The search committee should follow a transparent and good process and is responsible to the congregation and Unitarian Universalist values.
Selecting a search committee is the work of both the leadership and the entire congregation.
- The Parish Committee and probably the Nominating Committee divide up all the households in the congregation and place a call to every single household.
- Each household should be engaged in a conversation around questions about what the search committee does and who might be good members of a search committee.
- Someone on the Parish committee records the names of the people mentioned by parishioners as good possible members. The Parish Committee will reach out to these people. Once these people have agreed to be considered for the Search committee, a ballot is prepared with brief statements by each person. The entire congregation votes on the top 3 (for a 5 person committee) or the top 4 (for a 7 person committee).
- The Parish Committee then appoints 2 or 3 additional members.
The Search and Selection Process
During the following year, the Search committee prepares materials for a comprehensive informational packet about the church and surveys the congregation, holds house meetings and focus groups to determine what the congregation wants in a settled minister. The committee then reviews candidates for settled ministry which includes weekend long visits with finalists. These visits include hearing the candidates preach in “neutral” pulpits. At the end of the 2ndyear, the search committee will present the congregation with their final choice. The finalist will spend a week meeting the congregation and attending meetings and events. At the end of that week the congregation votes its approval or disapproval of the finalist. Finalists usually prefer to only settle with congregations that give a 90% approval vote.
Why does the search process take so long?
Because the entire congregation has a part in selecting the next minister, the process to get the entire congregation ready takes thought, time, and care. It takes intentionality to help a community move toward a 90% majority vote to call a minister whom the congregation hopes will stay for a number of years. The search process requires the congregation to engage in the emotional process of change and to move toward a new future together.
From: Settlement Handbook https://www.uua.org/sites/live-new.uua.org/files/settlement_handbook.pdf
In addition to preparing our application for an Interim Minister, the Parish committee worked on the following at our March meeting:
- Reviewed our budget from the 2017-18 church year which ends on March 31. We have accomplished a lot with the resources we have. We are, at this point, a little short on expected income due to pledges that have not been completed and a 2ndplanned for fundraising event which was not held. We have mostly balanced out our budget with under expenditures in several line items. However, we are really counting on the pledge income to fully balance our budget.
- Kate Hanson Plass and Carole Katz will be working with Allison to update our website so that it accurately reflects who we are. Our website will be an important factor as we hire an interim minister for next year. Candidates will be “checking us out” via our website. If you have current pictures of church activities, Carole Katz would love to have them!
- We are also taking a look at our by- laws to be sure they are up to date and we plan on presenting several changes for a vote at the Annual Meeting.
- We are also working on policies for the soon to be dedicated Memorial Garden and on a plan and policy which will hopefully make it easier and clearer to provide child care during important church events and meetings.
We welcome your thoughts and questions!
The Parish Committee:
Sue Twombly, chair
Kate Hanson Plass