Why You Will Meet One (And Only One) Ministerial Candidate
By the time you read this, the Ministerial Search Committee will have met with and interviewed our precandidates – the “short list” of incredibly qualified ministers we’ve chosen for thorough review. We are now in the most critical phase of our discernment: deciding which one of these wonderful ministers would be the best match with UUCB as our next settled minister.
Last month we reflected on the need for confidentiality in the Search process, both to protect our precandidates’ relationships with their current congregations and to avoid a situation where UUCB members might start to form premature attachments. We thank you for respecting that need. This month, we’ll explain the next steps beginning with why the Search Committee will present one (and only one) Ministerial Candidate.
Calling a minister is not like electing a politician.
Even though we refer to potential ministers as “candidates” and the congregation chooses a minister by voting, extending a call to ministry is a more sacred and communal process than secular elections.
In politics (for better or for worse), differences of opinion are resolved through majority vote and as you well know, the results often cause deep divisions and even resentment. The fact that members of both parties have what they believe to be the community’s best interests at heart is usually lost in an “UsversusThem” mentality that’s all about “winning”.
In Unitarian Universalist congregations, we devote ourselves both to the democratic process and to the inherent worth, dignity, wellbeing, and spiritual growth of our fellow members. We begin by saying “We are all in this together”, and we resolve our differences through the mutual promises of covenant and the invitation to remain in beloved community with one another.
Asking a congregation to choose between two candidates would be guaranteed to create division. Even if both choices were equally capable and equally well-matched with the congregation, some members would be left feeling like “our” candidate had “lost”, while “their” candidate had “won”.
Presenting one (and only one) Ministerial Candidate, chosen as the best match for UUCB through a process of deep discernment by an elected committee, allows this congregation to act in unity. Differences of opinion about our final candidate will naturally arise, and will be discussed in beloved and covenantal community recognizing that a minister serves the entire congregation. And when we vote, we will do so not along party lines, but as individuals each guided by our own conscience to do what we believe is best for all.
Whether we then vote to extend the call to ministry or not, there will be no “them”, no “losers”. There will be only “us”, moving forward together in partnership with a new minister, or moving forward together to find a different path for ministry at UUCB.
Ministers look for unanimity.
Ministers are advised to decline a call to ministry if less than 95 percent of the congregation votes in favor. That’s a high bar! And for good reason: Experience has shown that it is not enough to find a good or even very good fit between a minister and a congregation. Finding the best fit, while difficult, is a prerequisite for a successful ministry.
Luckily, your Search Committee has taken on the tricky task of deciding which of our wonderful precandidates is the best fit for ministry at UUCB and the truth is, there may be two or more who are equal as best matches in different ways. The hardest part of our discernment may be deciding which of two equally attractive candidates to prioritize.
At the same time, our precandidates are looking for their own “best fit” congregation, because a minister may only accept final candidacy with one church. When we present a final Ministerial Candidate, you will know that person has this committee’s unanimous and unambiguous endorsement, and that the candidate has made an unambiguous commitment to seek ministry at UUCB.
Then you, the congregation, will have a relatively easy choice: Whether to call one amazing minister to serve our church. And when you meet our final candidate, you should be so impressed so totally blown away that there’s hardly any need for debate! If we do our job well, it should be obvious to everyone that the Ministerial Candidate is the best possible fit for UUCB.
We expect to announce our final Ministerial Candidate on Sunday, April 5.
Once the Search Committee decides on our “best fit” precandidate, we will make an official Offer of Candidacy which, per UUA guidelines, we cannot do until April 2. If the candidate accepts our offer, the Search Committee should be able to bring you the good news on April 5. At that time we will also start finalizing the details of Candidating Week, which will take place from Saturday, April 25 through Sunday, May 3. The week will include services led by the Ministerial Candidate on two consecutive Sundays, many opportunities for UUCB members and the candidate to meet and get to know one another during the week between, and a special Congregational Meeting after the second Sunday service to vote on whether we will extend a call to ministry. Our bylaws do not allow proxy or absentee votes, so please plan to attend in person on May 3! s you can see, these final days of the Search Committee’s discernment are like a calm pause before the whirlwind finale! As always, we thank you for your continued patience and trust in this process.
Yours in faith,
The UUCB 20142015 Ministerial Search Committee
Jim Rowe (chair), Sharon Belew, Ted Burnham, Jason English, Jenny FittPeaster, Diana Maiden, Barb Richards