It is with a heavy heart that the MSC has announced that, after an exhaustive search process, we were unable to match a ministerial candidate to our settled minister position. The MSC wants to thank the
congregation for its support and participation throughout this process, without which we could not have done our work. The MSC wants to take this opportunity to outline our process, answer some of the
congregation’s questions and present some lessons we learned from the many (approximately 20) ministers with whom we spoke over the last few months.
First, after the surveys, cottage meetings, and conversations, the following were our primary criteria for candidates: match us in approach to spirituality; good pastoral care skills; strong administrative skills;
experience with congregations in transition; inspiring pulpit presentation/sermons; and life experience.
The MSC was encouraged by our UUA “coaches”, and our candidates, to make the best match for our congregation by maintaining our high standards and sense of discernment throughout the selection
process. We decided to require unanimous opinion on a candidate (based on past criteria from other MSCs), and our group worked well to reach consensus on issues. The MSC process evolved and the
congregation grew, changed and stayed engaged through the 19 months. Moving Forward workshops, cottage meetings, and visioning workshops were all vehicles for discussion, awareness and change.
Candidates appreciated this congregational self-awareness and hard work.
The Ministerial community is small and ministers with experience knew our past ministers/ministerial history personally. Feedback about UUCCH’s strengths included: incredible potential for growth, strong
social justice work, good financial and physical resources. Candidates were happy that the congregation is engaged in strategic planning and understands that WE are the church. One minister quoted, “here
you will be cared for and here you will care for others.”
So why didn’t we match? There were several reasons, some within our control, some not. The matching process was a two-way relationship. Each party (the candidate and MSC) had to feel the other were the
best fit for them. The decisions were complex, and salary was never given to us as the reason for not making a match. Our packet was expressed as strong and we had over a dozen qualified applicants. There were two rounds of matching attempts. We had the same criteria for both, but different candidates each time. Unfortunately, the puzzle pieces just didn’t come together for either round.
We did have some helpful candidate feedback and several suggestions for ways to grow into an even stronger community that the MSC wants to share. Please know that these were comments from others, and do not necessarily constitute specific recommendations from the MSC; rather they may be points for discussion as we move forward:
Right Relations: Lift up Right Relations in a visioning way to keep this in our consciousness on a daily basis. A church is a covenantal community.
Endowment/finance: An endowment of $2 - 2.5 million is appropriate for our size. Have an attitude of abundance, not scarcity.
Social Justice: Develop an overarching vision so that sub-missions could be expressed as a component of the larger vision.
Healthy Congregation: There is a phenomenon called the After Pastor Church- a church where a previous minister(s) violated trust (including sexual misconduct, harassment) of the congregation/community. We show continuing evidence of this phenomenon. We have started work to
address these effects, including lack of trust of local/internal and regional leadership, limited communication, conflict avoidance and micromanagement. However, work needs to be ongoing, involve
the whole congregation and demonstrate improvement.
Systems/structure: Review Bylaws to ensure a strong foundation including well-defined boundaries. The Board should be doing vision-level work, not the day-to- day running of church activities (minutiae).
Staffing: Ministers like to see well-defined boundaries re: staff responsibility. They expect to be the staff supervisors with discretion to supervise/hire/fire staff. Full time support staff (Director of Religious
Education, Director of Music Ministry, etc) for a church our size allows the minister to focus on other needs (pastoral care, supporting Board, etc).
We are not alone: UUCCH is part of the larger UU community. We have resources at the UUA and friends in our regional “cluster” churches. We have sources of help for any issues we want to look at. Several candidates suggested the use of a Developmental Minister for addressing issues and creating long-term stability.
In summary, the MSC has worked hard on your behalf since September 2016. This has been a long, but worthwhile process. As we reflect on all that we’ve learned, we know that our next steps have the potential to bring growth, healing and renewed purpose to our congregation. May we move forward in openness and love, with the conviction that we have the faith to work together to make our house even stronger.
The Ministerial Search Committee (MSC):
Sara Jane Applegate, Diane Baker-Hallowell, Sylvia Barclay, Julie Bonette, Denise Fox, Bob Messick, Lisa Nagasuru, Fred Schuster, and Jennie Stone