Search Committee (2020-2021)

It’s Time: The Search for a Settled Minister

The search for a settled minister for the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg is underway!  The UCH Ministerial Search Committee members are: Chair Chris Dutton, Jane Bechtel, Marsha Dulaney, Laura Edinger, Bridgette Parker, Dan Vaughn, and Emily Webb.

There are 32 UU congregations in search this year, and more than double that number of ministers looking for a settled position.  This is an excellent circumstance for UCH because it means we will have a large pool of ministers to consider.

The Congregational Survey, charette meetings, and specific focus group meetings, all held virtually, have garnered a great deal of valuable information about our congregation – who we are as a people and what we hope for in our minister and for our future.

The Timeline printed here contains more details on the selection process.

Please visit the MSC’s exciting website - here - for much more information on Our Church, Our Search, Our Timeline, and Our Gallery of Photos.  The password to access the site is U2uCh2.

The MSC will endeavor to keep you informed as we proceed to search for and find a settled minister.  Be sure to check this page periodically for updates and information on the status of our search.

All of us on the MSC look forward to working with you in this exciting time for our congregation!

Search Committee Memeber



  • Congregational Survey distributed and completed by members/friends/staff


  • Two (2) virtual charettes were scheduled during live coffee hour for the congregation to contribute more information “in-person” about their wishes, considerations, and any concerns regarding a new minister
  • Eight (8) focus groups were held with various interested groups in the congregation to have targeted discussions.


  • “Beyond Categorical Thinking” workshop offered on November 21 to the congregation virtually by the UUA Transitions Office to promote inclusive thinking and help prevent any unfair discrimination in our search/calling process
  • Search Committee submits the online Congregational Record to the UUA
  • Search Committee prepares online collection of detailed documents about UCH for exchange with interested ministers
  • Search Committee completes UUA’s online Application for Minister


  • Ministers review us - Potential ministers review our Congregational Record, Document Collection, and Website to determine if they think the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg might be a good match for them.


  • Search Committee reviews UUA minister-applicants’ submitted materials and selects three to four pre-candidates
  • Search Committee can request access to Ministerial Records from the UUA
  • Search Committee can contact ministers who have expressed interest in UCH and will exchange information
  • Search Committee reviews information and conducts interviews with candidates of interest


  • Pre-candidates will each be scheduled for “pre-candidating weekends”, which includes a virtual tour of the town, area, and UCH facilities; interviews and meals together; and observing the pre-candidates preach at a virtual neutral pulpit
  • Search Committee makes offer to first choice of candidate contingent on background check and reference interviews


  • Search Committee conducts background check and interviews references
  • Contract negotiation with UCH Board
  • Candidating Week

    o The chosen candidate meets with the Board of Trustees
    o The candidate meets and interacts with as much of the congregation as possible
    o The candidate leads worship services on the Sundays beginning and ending the week
    o After the services on the following Sunday, the congregation holds a formal meeting to vote to call the new minister


Most Recent News


The Ministerial Search Committee has almost completed all four precandidating weekends. We have spent hours with each of our four precandidates and learned so much about them. All of them are well-qualified to be the final candidate we present to the congregation. Now the MSC enters a time of review, discussion, and discernment to make the best decision we can for UCH.

As we shared with you before, each weekend has consisted of three rounds of interviews with the full MSC and smaller meetings between the precandidate and individual MSC members. We have enjoyed two dinners together, during which we showed videos prepared by Kel Kyle. One introduced our building, staff, and grounds. Another one presented highlights of the Harrisburg Area, which we narrated ourselves. The third video was a compilation of moments shared by our congregation in song, dance, and word. We were reminded how much we miss being together as a congregation.

By mid-April, you will find out who the MSC has selected as the final candidate. You will be able to meet the candidate in late April, virtually if necessary, prior to voting to call them during a congregational meeting on Sunday, May 2. Taking the time to meet the candidate before then and to learn as much as you can about them is an important step for you as a member of UCH.

To accept our call, the minister needs to be confident that UCH members do indeed want them as their new settled minister. A minister will be hesitant to accept a call unless at least 95% of those present at the congregational meeting vote “yes”. A minister will almost certainly decline a call that falls below 90%. To be successful, a new ministry needs to start out with the full support of the congregation.

The MSC’s is excited for the events of the next month and eagerly anticipates your participation with us at this final stage. The long hours are coming to fruition and we are getting ready to cross the finish line!

Submitted by Chris Dutton, Chair (3/18/2021)


Page last updated: 3/23/2021