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 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.

Search Committee Memeber

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! 


Most Recent News


Survey Results Released!!
By now you should have received a special News You Can UUs from UCH with a message from the Ministerial Search Committee and a link to the summary of the survey results. We heard from over 100 members of the congregation, staff, and friends of UCH via our online survey and paper copies of the survey. A big thanks to everyone who was able to participate!

The committee will use the survey results to inform what kind of minister to look for and what questions to ask potential ministers. The UUA will share this summary with searching ministers in December, along with other documentation that we provide.

If you weren't able to complete the survey or if you had opinions that you weren't able to express in the survey, never fear! The Ministerial Search Committee will be holding another charette (collaborative planning session) this coming Sunday during virtual coffee hour from 11:30 to 1pm. Sign into coffee hour via the Zoom link (see News You Can UU's) and we will guide you from there!

A charette (collaborative planning session) was held last Sunday during coffee hour. Twenty-five (25) members engaged in interesting and fruitful conversation. There will be another charette meeting this Sunday during coffee hour. It's held via Zoom and is open to everyone, for you to share your thoughts about the church, its worship and the qualities of the settled minister you hope for. This is your chance to ask questions and listen to other members. The meeting will be similar to last week's charette, but you are welcome to join in again if you so desire.

The charette will be accessible via the Zoom link that is sent to you Sunday morning for the live coffee hour. Sign into the coffee hour via the Zoom link and we will guide you from there!

Focus Groups
The MSC has contacted church groups to see if they are interested in having a focus group session with the MSC. For example: choir, worship team, board of trustees, etc. If you would like to schedule a focus group session for your group, please contact Bridgette Parker.

Save The Date
The MSC will be hosting a program for all members and staff on Saturday, November 21. The workshop is entitled "Beyond Categorical Thinking" and is facilitated by a trainer from the UUA. Beyond Categorical Thinking is an anti-oppression program designed to help congregations in the ministerial search process. The program consists of two ninety-minute sessions - one on Saturday morning beginning at 11 AM and one in the afternoon beginning at 3 PM. By completing the program, congregations send a message to all their members and potential ministers about their commitment to full equality and on-going learning about anti-oppression.

Submitted by Chris Dutton, Chair (10/21/2020)


Ministerial Search Committee Needs YoUUr Photos!

The Ministerial Search Committee is putting together a website that prospective ministerial candidates will peruse to decide if UCH is a church where they can see themselves. We need recent photos that members and friends have of our congregation and community. The photos can be special events, worship services, lay-led ministry activities, social action events, Religious Exploration classes, etc. Please send any photos you have to Dan Vaughn or Jane Bechtel. If you submit photos, you automatically grant permission for these photos to appear on our search website. Thanks for helping out!

Submitted by Jane Bechtel (8/14/2020)


Page last updated: 10/22/2020