From Your Lead Minister
May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.
Welcome to March. Our theme for this month is balance. This week begins my third month of ministry with you in the capacity of lead minister. As lead minister, there are many roles to balance, but pastoral care is one of those. In that capacity, I write to you today
You have an important choice to make on Sunday.
We are in an unusual but not altogether uncommon position, in the context of Unitarian Universalism. Some denominations appoint their ministers to particular churches. In that case, the relationship between the minister and the congregation is like an arranged marriage. Romance is not part of the equation; the match is made for you. Both parties hope for the best, but they get what they get. In our denomination, there are (not surprisingly) many ways a minister can be chosen. Our system is more like a dating game — reminiscent of the hopeful notes we wrote in elementary school: “I like you. Do you like me? Circle yes or no.”
In our tradition, there are interim ministers (temporary and transitional), contract ministers (for a determined amount of time), developmental ministers (usually temporary for a determined time and for churches that really need some “remediation”), and settled ministers (“called”).
Using the relationship metaphor, interim ministers are sort of a rebound relationship. They cannot enter into a permanent relationship with the congregation. Ideally, they help healing take place and help you focus your vision. Developmental ministers do the serious work of helping heal and focus damaged or conflict-ridden congregations. They come in and shake things up, exposing unhealthy patterns and pushing the congregation towards health. They are initially temporary but can be called to a permanent position with a vote. Contract ministers enter into a relationship for a determined amount of time for various reasons but can also be called by the congregation with a vote. Finally, settled ministers are, using the relationship metaphor, for keeps — until one party or the other decides to be single or to see other people.
The Ministerial Search Committee has voted to present me as your candidate for settled ministry. The vote is this Sunday, March 4th. I am honored to serve you now and would be deeply honored to serve you in an ongoing capacity.
May clarity be yours as you navigate this process of discernment.
In peace and with gratitude,
~Rev. Mary Frances