The Ministerial Search Committee has been hard at work the last few weeks, getting to know our “short list” of precandidates and beginning to compare their ministerial skills with what you the congregation have said UUCB needs in its next minister.
This is deep and challenging work, mostly because our precandidates are an amazingly talented group of ministers! We are excited to tell you as much as we can about them. But there are some things we just can’t share including the precandidates’ identities.
In this phase of the Search process, confidentiality is paramount.
The Unitarian Universalist Association is clear in its guidance for Search Committees:
“Confidentiality is not secrecy. The committee must publicize the process it is following and how far along it is at every point. At the same time, the committee must keep confidential both the names and the locations of the ministers under consideration.”
Why? Because confidentiality protects ministers.
Many ministers have not yet told their congregations about their desire to leave. Across the country, 86 ministers are currently competing for 36 fulltime positions; many of them will be disappointed. Ministers who don’t find a new position often choose to continue with their present congregation for another year, and having it known that they are actively seeking other opportunities could undermine their ministry. UUCB needs to respect ministers’ right to keep that information private until they are ready to have that conversation with their congregants, and let them do so on their own terms.
Confidentiality at this early stage also will make it easier for our congregation to wholeheartedly embrace a final candidate later on. We do not want anyone to get attached to a precandidate based on first impressions, which could create false hopes and lead to division among the congregation if that person is not chosen as our final candidate.
Please know that violations of confidentiality including attempts by congregants to discover the identity of any precandidate will reflect negatively upon our congregation. Ministers have actually withdrawn from considering a congregation over that kind of incident. We trust that you won’t intentionally put UUCB in that position; in return we ask you to trust us, as your elected representatives, to evaluate our precandidates in confidence and with UUCB’s best interests in mind.
Here is what we CAN tell you about our precandidates.
Our precandidates are an awesome bunch of ministers! The group hails from all over the country and includes both men and women. Our precandidates have a wonderful variety of experience in both life and ministry some are lifelong UUs and born ministers, while others came to UU ministry from other faiths and careers. All have experience serving congregations large and small.
To varying but always impressive extent, each of our precandidates excels at skills and qualities the congregation has said are important for our search:
- ● Collaborative leadership and commitment to shared ministry;
- ● Crafting and delivering powerful sermons and developing the “worship arts”;
- ● Giving and supporting pastoral care;
- ● Inspiring a spiritual commitment to social change;
- ● Fostering familyfriendly intergenerational community;
- ● Fundraising and stewardship of church resources;
- ● And the many other aspects of ministry we seek.
The process of discernment is just beginning.
The Search Committee has only started getting to know our precandidates, and already we are wowed by the caliber of the ministers our search has attracted. In the coming months we will engage deeply with each of them to discuss the needs and goals of this congregation, the gifts and challenges they bring to ministry, and how we might grow together if they were called to serve UUCB.
Then the members of the Search Committee will engage deeply amongst ourselves in a process of discernment. Our goal will be to discover which of our precandidates is the best match for ministry at UUCB no easy task, since all of our options are so good!
When the committee has decided on one (and only one) minister to be our final Ministerial Candidate, the need for confidentiality will finally end. We will announce our Ministerial Candidate in early April, and you will have ample opportunities to learn about and meet that person before the congregation votes in early May on whether to call the candidate as our settled minister.
Why will you meet one (and only one) final Ministerial Candidate? More on that next month…
Thank you again for the trust you have placed in us to do this sacred work, and for your continued patience during the coming months of our discernment.
Yours in faith,
The UUCB 20142015 Ministerial Search Committee
Jim Rowe (chair), Sharon Belew, Ted Burnham, Jason English, Jenny FittPeaster, Diana Maiden, Barb Richards