Dear Members and Friends,
With heavy hearts the Search Committee (SC) is writing to let you know that our search has concluded without identifying a candidate who would be a good match for our next settled minister. Wonderful pre-candidates from the first round accepted offers elsewhere. Then we had high hopes for the second round, but a couple of good candidates ended up withdrawing from search altogether and others had weaknesses that made us feel that we should not pursue a candidacy with them. Having poured a great deal of time and effort as well as love into the search, no one is more disappointed with this result than the SC. We assure you that we have considered all options thoroughly but realize the truth in the caution that calling a minister who would be a poor match is far worse than a failed search.
You may be asking, what went wrong? The SC has pondered this question at length and also questioned our 1st round pre-candidates. We were “first runner-up” for our top two candidates. And all three of our top candidates ended up accepting offers from larger congregations. Our search materials and process were praised. We attracted a lot of candidates in both 1st and 2nd round who saw the qualities of this wonderful congregation. We learned a few small things that we could tweak in our next search (and that we will consult with the next committee about), but, essentially, we have been very unlucky.
Your next question may be, why not continue our ministry with Cindy? The board has followed the recommendation from the UUA (based on good experience) that interim ministers should not stay more than two years. And, interims enter a ministry with that in mind. While, it is human nature to dislike change, we will likely benefit from a fresh perspective as we engage in some re-examination of ourselves in a new search process.
So, where does this leave us? We are in a good place because this congregation was amazing before we started the search and we are still that vibrant, loving, welcoming congregation that we were when we started. And we have done a lot of valuable work that we can capitalize on as we move ahead. Life is full of disappointments. This is one that we will weather – together.
What is the next step? We are already in the process of applying for a new interim minister and are hopeful of getting a great interim. Another year of interim will give us a chance to do a little more self-assessment and fine-tuning of the search. How do we move past our disappointment and start again? By rallying around the fundamental reasons that brought us together in the first place. We are a strong community. The Search Committee would not have given so much of ourselves in the search if this community didn’t mean so much to us! And we know it means a great deal to everyone at the UUSA!
All of this requires some processing. Members of the SC and Board of Trustees will be available to meet with the congregation following the April 29 and May 6 services to answer your questions and hear your concerns. We need the opportunity to work through this disappointment together and move past it.
With gratitude for this community,
Carolyn, Jenn, Lisa, Mary, Anne, and Steve