A Letter from the Board President re 2.27.2022 Town Hall

Dear USG Community,

Thanks to all who attended the congregational Town Hall meeting this past Sunday (Feb 27, 2022). We discussed the transition process for our three professional leaders who have left or soon will be leaving us. This letter recaps my sense of the meeting and addresses some of the questions raised at the meeting. 

Transition Plans:

Interim Minister and Settled Minister: Upon the departure of Rev. Kent, an Interim minister will see us through the two-year transition to a new settled minister. The interim search committee, chaired by Jenn Leiby and which begins on March 3, will review minister applications and make a recommendation to the Board. The anticipated start date for the interim minister is August 1, 2022. During the second year of the interim ministry, a committee will be formed to search for a new settled minister. That individual will start August 1, 2024. 

Music Director: The selection of a Music Director is in the hands of another search committee headed by Lois Murphy. The expectation is that a new Music Director will be in place by September 2022. 

Director of Spiritual Development (DSD): Anticipating the departure of Ryan Hurd, our current DSD, the Board met with the leaders of Adult and Children’s Spiritual Development to discuss options. All agreed that we should hire a one-year acting DSD as we consider our options for the future. There was also enthusiastic agreement that we should offer this position to Latifah Griffin Rogers, our current intern minister. This offer is contingent upon UUA agreement that Latifah may remain at USG one additional year (UUA rules for those who leave ministry roles is that they must not take a position at the same church for three years). We are hopeful that this exception will be made. 

Questions and concerns expressed during the meeting:

  • Reactions to the presentation: Participants expressed relief that we have a plan.  Those who participated in previous settled minister searches reassured others that the search process will be democratic, involving the congregation in the selection of the people on the search committee and the approval of the final candidate. 
  • What are the contents of the ministerial search packet? The documents USG provides to prospective candidates for both the interim and the settled minister positions include the proposed contract and total compensation information. Other documents include the congregational survey, current and previous budgets, job descriptions of staff members, annual reports, minutes of Board meetings, and orders of service. Prospective minister candidates also have access to the USG website. Prospective candidates submit a Ministerial Record to the UUA. They also provide a link to their website that includes a personal biography, sermons, newsletter columns, photos, and audio/video files. Copies of past search materials will be made available for viewing.
  • Does the Board and/or search committee have preconceptions about the next settled minister?  The UUA expects each congregation searching for a settled minister to take part in a workshop called “Beyond Categorical Thinking.” This program addresses the congregation’s concerns around the race/ethnicity, gender/gender identity, disabilities, health concerns, and sexual orientation of potential ministers. The program team works with the congregation to actively counter systemic and personal biases during and beyond the search process.
  • Can the Interim minister apply to be the settled minister?  No. Both the congregation and interim minister must covenant not to ask the interim to be a candidate for settled minister.
  • Can the settled minister search be conducted in less than two years?  This is not recommended. The UUA maintains that the two-year process results in a more satisfactory settled ministry than a shorter process.  

I hope you have found this summary helpful. My apologies for any important details I may have missed. To discuss further, reach out to me at boardpresident@usguu.org  

In faith,

Andrea Barsevick, USG President