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


Last Saturday, January 2, 2021, marked a major milestone in the search process when the Ministerial Search Committee received a list of ministers who want to be considered for UCH’s settled minister position. Since Saturday, we have received additional names. The MSC is currently reviewing these candidates’ ministerial records. Based on that review, we will choose 6 to 9 candidates and spend the rest of January conducting virtual interviews and checking references. From these interviews, we will choose 3 or 4 pre-candidates.

Throughout February and March, we will conduct additional, in-depth interviews of the 3 or 4 pre-candidates, request and interview more references, and observe each of them presenting a Sunday service in a neutral pulpit, again virtually. We will also do our best to acquaint them with our church and congregation and answer the questions they will have. In early April, we will pick the one person whom we think is the best fit for our church and present them to you for your consideration during candidating week.

The members of the Ministerial Search Committee feel well prepared for this effort thanks to the extensive and thoughtful input provided by you the congregation via the Ministerial Search Questionnaire, focus group meetings, and our cottage meetings or “charettes.” We have also built upon the excellent work of our previous search committees. The Transitions Office of the UUA has been highly complimentary of the quality of the information we have provided candidates about our church and congregation. We thank you for placing trust in our little group of seven, who promise to do our very best to choose an individual you will be excited and confident to call as the next settled minister of the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg.

Submitted by Chris Dutton, Chair (1/7/2021)


During the month of December, UU ministers who are searching for a settled ministry position can review UCH’s Congregational Record on the UUA Ministry Search website. On January 2, 2021, the Search Committee will receive from the UUA a list of ministers who want to be considered for UCH’s settled minister position.

What is a settled minister? A settled minister is someone the congregation calls by congregational vote. If the minister accepts the call, that person will stay for as long as both the congregation and the minister wish to continue the relationship.

Why a settled minister? Calling a minister creates a mutual commitment that allows the minister and the congregation to form a strong bond. Ideally, we form a relationship that lasts a long time. We get to know each other in a deeper way. As we come out of the pandemic and other traumatic events of this past year, that sense of strong connection and commitment will be essential for us to move ahead. A settled minister can watch and learn what moves us as a congregation and encourage us in that direction. They will participate in the continuity of our lives, watching our children grow up and conducting our weddings and memorial services. They will interact with other faiths and organizations and help to establish UCH as a presence in the community.

The search committee looks forward to working hard during the next few months to find someone who will become a part of our church community. Someone with the qualities that will meet our needs and help us achieve our goals. You the congregation have helped us get to this point and we are grateful. The UUA Transitions Office has been very complimentary about the work we have done, which would not have been possible without you!

Submitted by Chris Dutton, Chair (12/17/2020)


Page last updated: 1/11/2021