From the President
Some may wonder why UU congregations don’t go ahead and hire a new settled minister when one leaves. The reason is that people need time to grieve the loss of a beloved minister. They need time to separate. They need time to feel and process all their feelings. And the congregation needs time to reflect on who we are now.
Our congregation is not the same as it was before Rev. Robin came in 2010. We had a two-year interim with Rev. Karen Matteson which helped us resolve our feelings about our minister of 14 years, Rev. Wyman Rousseau, leaving. It helped us to talk with in small group meetings as well as poll the congregation to find out what kind of minister we were looking for. What was important to us? What kinds of skills did we want our new minister to bring to the table? Who did we want to be as Piedmont UU Church moved forward to reflect the whole congregation? These are important questions that cannot be answered quickly.
I would like to explain to you how this process will be moving forward. The Piedmont UU Church Board of Trustees has asked members who are willing to serve on the interim search committee to contact me. We will appoint members to this committee. Their task will be to put together a modified search packet for prospective interim ministers. If you’re new to Unitarian Universalism, an interim minister is specifically trained to help us during this period of transition. They sign a pledge that they cannot submit their name to be considered for our new settled minister position. They act as a catalyst to help us discern what kind of minister we are looking for. They “hold the fort” while our search committee does their intensive work to find us a new minister.
At our December congregational meeting, we will elect members who will serve on our settled minister search committee. These will be different people than those who served on the interim search committee. We want to have a broad cross section of the congregation represented. They will be charged with putting together an extensive search packet (unlike the interim search committee for the interim minister) and will review potential candidates’ packets that are posted online. The search committee will post our packet online for ministers in search to review. These include all sorts of information about our congregation: budget, membership, governance, history, newsletters, as well as information about the Charlotte area in terms of housing and schools. If the prospective minister is interested in us, they will contact the search committee and the committee will review the minister’s packet to see if they think this particular candidate would be a good match for us. It’s almost like a dating process. If they don’t think they’d be a good fit, they will graciously thank them and tell them they’re not interested. When they narrow the candidates down to a couple, they will conduct interviews with them. They will check their references. They will keep all of this confidential. The search committee will bring 3 or 4 candidates to Charlotte for face to face talks, ending the weekend with the candidate giving a sermon at a neutral pulpit.
The final candidate may be selected from them or the committee may find the sermons are not to our standards and start a new short list. When the committee is satisfied with their final candidate, the prospective minister will come for a week to Piedmont UU Church. This is called a “candidating week.” This usually happens in May. They will preach at Piedmont UU Church on Sunday, spend the whole week meeting with different groups, leadership and members of the congregation. The second Sunday, they will preach again and then leave the church. At this time, the congregation’s members will vote whether to call this particular minister or not. After the vote, the minister is informed about the vote and then it is up to the minister to decide if they will accept.
I know the whole process can seem cumbersome and slow, but if we try and hurry the process, we may end up rebounding and selecting a minister that doesn’t really fit us. The UUA’s data shows that if you have an 18-24 month interim, the chances of a successful search is 90%. If you have an interim for less time, the percentage of success in calling a new settled minister drops to 56%. This is an expensive process and we don’t want to rush it only to find we’ve picked the wrong person and have to do it all over again in a year or two. The search committee that brought us Rev. Robin spent many, many, many hours working on this for our beloved community. If you are interested in serving on either the Interim Minister Search Committee or the Settled Minister Search Committee, please let me know. Please bear in mind that serving on either of the committees (Interim Search and Settled Minister Search) is a huge commitment and requires a LOT of time. Committee members need to be able to work well with others, work on deadlines and keep all the information confidential.
If you have any questions about serving on either of our upcoming search committees, please call me. If you want to serve on either the interim or new settled minister committee, please send me an email and specify which one you are interested in serving on.
Thanks & hugs,
Piedmont UU Church Board of Trustees President