IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT INTERIM MINISTER SEARCHES THIS YEAR
We are in an unprecedented situation with regards to the interim ministerial search this year, one that has not occurred in the recent history of Unitarian Universalism. In the broadest description, the issue is that there are significantly more congregations this year looking for interim ministries than there are ministers available to fulfill those interim ministries. Not Interim Ministers… ministers. There are significantly more congregations looking for an interim ministry this year than there are experienced or Accredited Interim Ministers available… and even the number of available ministers without interim experience is smaller than normal.
There are several reasons for this situation. The first is that with the recovery of the economy, there has been a significant increase in the number of Unitarian Universalist Ministers who have chosen to retire from the ministry this year. This has a double effect upon the availability of interim and transitional ministers, in that it has meant an increase in the number of congregations requesting an Interim Minister, and it means that many ministers who might otherwise be available to “take up the slack” are leaving active ministry for retirement.
There is also a growing trend of Unitarian Universalist Ministers feeling called to ministries outside of the congregational setting. Justice making efforts, non-profit organizations, chaplaincy, and even some business settings are drawing more and more Unitarian Universalist ministers into engagement with the wider world. While this is in many ways a beautiful and hopeful thing, it also means that fewer of the ministers of our liberal faith tradition are looking for congregational based ministries.
There is a perception amongst our congregations that there is some great pool of available ministers out there, who are just waiting for an opportunity to serve congregations of our liberal faith tradition. While that may have been true at one time, it is no longer true. Many currently serving Unitarian Universalist Ministers are looking to retire from congregational ministry in the next few years. Other ministers are finding more and more opportunities to practice ministry outside of congregational settings. And some congregations are expanding their own staffs by hiring multiple ministers for the first time.
Our opportunities for professional ministry within the world are expanding, even as we are seeing a generational shift in those retiring from our ministry. And that means that a congregation simply cannot expect, when a minister leaves (or is encouraged to leave by congregants), that there will be a deep pool of candidates for that open ministerial position. Not for the foreseeable future.
For all of the congregations in search for an interim minister this year, our thoughts and prayers are with you as we navigate what can only be an anxious time. For all of the congregations who are wondering about their relationships with the ministers who are currently serving their congregations, we invite you to think deeply and closely about that relationship, in light of this changing and shifting reality. And for all of of our ministerial colleagues who are having to make difficult discernment decisions about where and how to practice your ministry, we walk with you in spirit.
Be well and Blessed,
The Central East Regional Staff
I’ve never considered myself a “GA Junkie,” but I know others think I am. When I enter the convention center in Portland, Oregon this June, it will be the 13th General Assembly I’ve attended. My first was in 1993 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
My involvement in my church, district, region and the UUA has brought me many connections – relationships with a large number of Unitarian Universalists. I love having friends and reconnecting with them – I’m a very social person. So when I begin trying to find my way around the convention center hosting our GA, I often encounter friends and the joy pours out!
The experiences at GA continue. The music is fabulous. A huge choir on stage is always moving. A singer is featured in a small band that brings the house down. And there’s always a solo performer out there all by themselves that brings many of the 4,000 people in attendance to tears.
The Service of the Living Tradition is always touching. The somber and respectful acknowledgement of those ministers who served our faith for so many years and no longer will. It’s exciting to watch the new ministers as they are recognized for moving through the monumental steps of fellowship.
Even the general business meetings are a learning experience for me, to hear how passionate people are about issues I knew nothing about before registering for GA.
And I always bring back ideas for my congregations to ponder and perhaps adapt to our mission.
Yes, attending GA is expensive and time consuming, but we are getting better at offering parts of GA to the world through streaming events. I encourage you to take the lead in your congregation, find a few events you think will resonate with your members and then work out the technical details to have a group watch and listen and comment on these live events.
I always finding connecting with other UUs to be educational, enjoyable and inspirational – l would like to share my experiences with you. Watch for me online or be sure to find me in Portland!
GOLDMINE LEADERSHIP SCHOOL FOR YOUTH
Goldmine has three locations this year:
- Goldmine Youth Leadership School West~ Sunday, July 5-Saturday, July 11 at East Shore UU Church, Kirtland, Ohio. Early bird deadline May 15, registration deadline June 15.
- Goldmine Youth Leadership School East ~ Sunday, August 16-Friday, August 21 at Stony Point, NY. Early bird deadline June 1, registration deadline July 15.
- Plus, Unicamp Goldmine Week ~Monday, August 24-Sunday, August 30 at Unicamp in Honeywood Ontario. (Passport needed to cross the border!)
Learn about the entire program and registration options at the CERG website.
SLD CONGREGATIONS ARE PROUD!!
At District Assembly we invited our congregations to share their proud moments for the year with us. Please read them on the 2015 Proud Page.
DISTRICT TEAMWORK SERVES CONGREGATIONS
Sometimes a challenge can offer an opportunity to try something new.
In the Ohio Meadville and St. Lawrence Districts of the Unitarian Universalist Association, the sudden illness and extended medical leave of St. Lawrence Congregational Life Consultant, the Rev. Chris Neilson, resulted in an all-hands-on-deck response from the district boards and from district, regional and national UUA staff.
The governing boards of the four districts that make up the Central East Regional Group have been in discussion about moving to a "Primary Contact" model where each congregation has a "go-to" person who partners with the congregation's leaders to find the right resources and specialists from the UUA and region and to strengthen relationships within clusters. The model provides an improved Primary Contact staff-to-congregation ration in OMD and SLD (1 to 25-30 congregations). Staff will also continue to offer depth with their own portfolio "specialties" for the four districts in the region.
The Rev. Joan VanBecelaere (lead of the Central East Regional Group) and the Rev. Scott Tayler (director of Congregational Life for the UUA) saw the challenge of the medical leave as an opportunity to pilot this primary contact program. They devised a plan to redeploy existing staff from the districts and region for the duration of the medical leave.
Beginning July 1, there will be three staff persons in OMD and SLD taking on the role of Primary Contact for different clusters of congregations:
||Rev. Joan Van Becelaere email@example.com, 303-641-5896 (OMD Congregational Life Consultant and CERG regional lead)
||Evin Carvill-Ziemer firstname.lastname@example.org, 330-281-3306 (Program Coordinator for OMD and SLD and Acting Congregational Life Consultant)
||Rev. Renee Ruchotzke email@example.com, 330-554-0828 (Regional Congregational Life Consultant in Leadership Development)
For a quick reference on who will be serving your congregation, please check this map (above) or visit this easy to use form.
Of course, the entire CERG staff is ready to respond when needed and to support our congregations as we strengthen our Unitarian Universalist faith within and beyond our walls.
The staff and district boards will be assessing this program and its effectiveness on an on-going basis. Please share your observations and questions with our regional lead, the Rev. Joan VanBecelaere. Joan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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