Ministerial Search Committee Report – January 2019

By the time you read this update, your Search committee may have essentially vanished from view. We hope to be awash in ministerial applications by then. We have to observe strict confidentiality from that point on. We will not be able to tell you who has applied or what we think about any of the applicants. Sometimes a minister applies to work for a new congregation without first alerting their current congregation. We must take care to preserve their confidentiality and to let them decide whether and when to be public about their job search.

In December, we finished the “Congregational Record” (CR), which is meant to provide a detailed picture of our Society to ministers who are looking for a new congregation. Reverend Steve and our UUA coach approved the CR and it was posted for ministers in search, right on schedule. One of those ministers may be reading it as I type!

We prepared for interviews, creating a form to help us evaluate records from potential ministers. We made lists of questions to use in two different kinds of interviews and two different kinds of reference checks.

We also completed the “packet,” which includes lots more information about our Society as well as Amherst and the surrounding towns. This packet includes samples of our newsletters, Order of Service, budget reports, letters from previous and current ministers and interim ministers, etc. We started with a fabulous website that last year’s Search Committee put together and updated it to fit the vision of the current Search Committee.

In January, ministers in search will tell the UUA if they are interested interviewing with us. We should be receiving a list of applicants in the beginning of January. After we know who is interested in our congregation, we will begin reading applications and listening to sermons. We will send our “packet” to interested ministers, and start conducting Skype interviews.

Here is a brief summary of our schedule after January:
– February: Begin weekend visits with applicants (officially called “pre-candidates”).
– March: Continue those weekend visits.
– Late March: We will send a ranked list of our pre-candidates to the UUA. We hope one of our top choices will also have chosen us. If so, that person will become our “candidate” and we will start arranging to have them visit with our congregation for a whole week in April.
– April 28 through May 5: Assuming we have a candidate, we will invite them to come here for Candidating Week. During this week, the congregation will be able to experience two services led by our candidate, meet them, and vote on whether or not to call them as our new settled minister. This week gives the whole congregation time to get to know the candidate and consider whether they would be a good fit as our new settled minister. It also provides the candidate with time to decide whether they want to serve as our minister, and whether they will feel at home in our Pioneer Valley.

Wish us luck! We will be very busy, very soon, doing our very best to find a minister for all of us.

Written by Louise, with help from the committee: Carol Johnson, Charlie Atwood, Janis Gray, Kiana Diggs, Sue Kelly, Jess Murphy and Louise Grosslein (co-chairs)

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