It’s Time: The Search for a Settled Minister
The search for a settled minister for the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg is up and running!
Social distancing has not prevented the Ministerial Search Committee (MSC) from proceeding toward UCH’s goal of finding a settled minister in 2021. Chris Dutton, Laura Edinger, Dan Vaughn, Emily Webb, Marsha Dulaney, Bridgette Parker, and Jane Bechtel have been meeting via Zoom and planning for the coming months.
The search was initiated when the Board of Trustees decided the congregation was ready to call a settled minister. A ministerial search committee was then selected according to UCH bylaws and was affirmed by the congregation at a special congregational meeting held on May 31, 2020.
The MSC has organized itself by assigning tasks and designing a work plan and calendar to guide its activities and to meet deadlines set by the UUA (Unitarian Universalist Association). 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 MSC began in June to put together information that potential ministers will review to decide if they want to apply to be our minister. This collection of information is known as the congregational record. The congregational record is due in November of this year and will be available to prospective ministers, beginning on December 1.
One of the things the MSC will do to complete the congregational record is to collect information from the congregation. We will send a survey to you in August. We will also schedule cottage meetings and focus groups in September and October. The meetings will be held virtually if we are not able to gather in person. From the survey and the cottage meetings and focus groups, we will gather information about our congregation – who we are as a people and what we hope for in our minister and for our future. It is important that we represent ourselves to potential minsters as we truly are, so that we find someone who is a good fit for us.
Ministers who are in search for a congregation will have access to UCH’s congregational record in December and will decide if they want to apply for consideration as our settled minister. In January, the MSC receives from the UUA the names of applicants. At that point, the MSC decides which applicants it would like to consider. An interview and review process begins. This happens during the months of January through March. It includes interviews, reference checks, and observations of selected applicants in neutral pulpits. Typically, it also includes in-person interactions. The precautions required by COVID-19 could mean that the process will vary somewhat. We and the UUA will adjust as needed.
The MSC makes an offer on April 1 to the candidate it selects. The congregation will have an opportunity to meet the candidate and review their experience and qualifications. The congregation will vote in May of 2021 on whether to accept the candidate presented by the MSC.
The MSC will endeavor to keep you informed as we proceed to search for and find a settled minister. You can check this page periodically for updates and information on the status of our search.
Thank you for your attention. All of us on the MSC look forward to working with you in this exciting time for our congregation!
Submitted by Chris Dutton
Page last updated: July 16, 2020