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Minister Search Team Updates2023-08-03T07:41:06-04:00

The Settled Minister Search Team

The seven-member Settled Minister Search Team, approved by the congregation in June 2023, is at work on the months-long task of selecting a new Settled Minister for our community. The team was recruited by a group of UUCC members independent of the Board of Trustees. We are committed to carrying out our mission, as set out in our UUCC Bylaws, in coordination with the Unitarian Universalist Association and with assistance from the UUA’s Transitions Office.

Our congregation has not recruited a Settled Minister in more than 20 years, so the process is likely unfamiliar to most UUCC members and friends. Through Spring 2024, the Search Team will seek to explain this work in detail, especially the need for confidentiality surrounding the names of ministers seeking to lead our community. We expect to be in search along with dozens of other UU congregations across the country. That means we and the other congregations have to coordinate our timetables, including narrowing the field of candidates, conducting interviews, and making offers to the ministers we select.

The Search Team will screen applications for our Settled Minister position, narrow the field to a small handful of pre-candidates, conduct interviews, background and reference checks, and finally make an offer through a negotiated contract. Ultimately, the voting members of UUCC will have the opportunity to meet, hear from and decide – in a congregational vote – whether to issue the call to ministry in our community.

Updates on our process will be emailed to the UUCC community, posted in our Currents newsletter, and collected below. We expect you will have questions and concerns, and we are engaged in the work of meeting with as many stakeholders as possible. We also have set up a dedicated email address to make it easier for you to contact us: ministersearch@uuccharlotte.org.

We look forward to working with our members on this essential work.

In faith,
Your UUCC Minister Search Team
Barry Ahrendt
Althea Clark
Mic Elvenstar
Ellen Holliday (co-chair)
Rebekah Visco (co-chair)
Dave Warren
Kathryn Whitfield

Meet the Team

Updates from the Settled Minister Search Team

Minister Search Team February Update

In just about two months, the UUCC Search Team plans to introduce you to our candidate for Settled Minister. The process is moving forward on schedule.  The seven of us have been meeting about once a week – and sometimes more frequently.  It’s an exhaustive effort to recruit applicants, review their records and videos, conduct interviews online and in person, and ultimately select a highly qualified minister who meets the criteria you have helped us determine.

According to our schedule, which we published in the Fall, February and March are the crucial months during which we meet with a small number of “pre-candidates” who come to Charlotte, sit for hours of interviews and casual conversations, and preach a Sunday sermon at another, “neutral pulpit” in our region.

The main purpose of those appearances is not disclosed to those congregations, out of respect for the confidentiality of the process and the privacy of those involved. In the tradition of the Tom Cruise “Mission: Impossible” films, if our mission is detected, we will deny any knowledge of our actions.

Humor aside, we on the Search Team take our mission quite seriously. We check references, research each of the pre-candidates, and perform due diligence to ensure the fitness of the candidate we present to you.

As we announced recently, the Search Team expects to reveal the candidate in April, once an offer is made and an agreement on salary, benefits, and other conditions is negotiated. Most importantly, you will have multiple opportunities to meet with and hear from the candidate during the week of April 28 – May 5.

The Candidating Week comprises two Sunday services and numerous discussion groups and social occasions. During this week, the candidate will act as our UUCC minister, meeting with staff and congregational leaders, and planning and presenting the two services. The Search Team is developing the schedule for Candidating Week and will announce it once it’s finalized.

Following the service on Sunday, May 5, we and the Board of Trustees will hold a special congregational meeting to vote on the formal call to the minister. Please plan to participate in Candidating Week and attend the congregational meeting, either in person or online.

Thanks for your interest and participation in this crucially important process to help guide our UU community’s future. Please contact us with questions or concerns at ministersearch@uuccharlotte.org.

Your Settled Minister Search Team,
Barry Ahrendt
Althea Clark
Mic Elvenstar
Ellen Holliday (co-chair)
Rebekah Visco (co-chair)
Dave Warren
Kathryn Whitfield

February 22, 2024|Tags: , , |

Minister Search Team Update: Save the Dates!

Working with the UUCC staff and Board of Trustees, the Minister Search Team has announced the dates for what we expect to be a joyful week as we welcome a new Settled Minister candidate in the Spring.

Over eight days from April 28 to May 5, 2024, we are planning to hold what’s called Candidating Week. For those of you who haven’t been part of one here or at another UU congregation, it’s the time when the Search Team introduces the minister to our UU Community. Of course, the final say on calling a minister is yours, the members of the congregation.

But the Search Team is optimistic that the nationwide search we are conducting will find an excellent minister. We have been screening applications and conducting interviews with the top candidates. The timeline we are on is being followed in parallel by all 30 or so UU congregations in search this cycle. By early April, we anticipate making an offer and negotiating a contract.

If all goes as planned, once all the i’s are dotted, t’s crossed, and due diligence carried out, we will be able to make an announcement. The Search Team is obligated to keep the process confidential until then, but now that the dates are set, we can start planning the eight-day introduction that constitutes Candidating Week.

You can expect our candidate to conduct two Sunday services here, be available to meet, greet and answer your questions, and begin to get acquainted with our congregation and the larger Charlotte community. At a later date, we will announce a detailed schedule for the candidate to meet with a variety of UUCC stakeholders, leaders, and staff.

Candidating Week will culminate with the Sunday service on May 5, followed by a special congregational meeting to vote on the official call to ministry. Our Bylaws require at least a 90% vote in favor to issue the call, so we hope all eligible members will make every effort to cast a vote. We are working with the Board on exactly how the vote will be conducted.

This search process would not have been possible without your participation in our congregational survey and the feedback and focus groups we conducted. Our decisions will be guided by what you told us you are looking for in a new Settled Minister. And once you have a chance to meet the candidate we recruit, only you are authorized to call a new Settled Minister.

So on behalf of our beloved UU Community, please save the date of May 5 and make plans to participate in this vote – our most important congregational decision in decades.

Your UUCC Minister Search Team,

Barry Ahrendt
Althea Clark
Mic Elvenstar
Ellen Holliday (co-chair)
Rebekah Visco (co-chair)
Dave Warren
Kathryn Whitfield
Email us at: ministersearch@uuccharlotte.org

January 18, 2024|Tags: , |

Minister Search Team Update: Beyond Categorical Thinking

More than 70 UUCC members attended the three-hour workshop offered two Saturdays ago (December 2) by the Search Team. Rev. Keith Kron of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Transitions Office facilitated the workshop titled “Beyond Categorical Thinking.” Even if you did not attend, there are lessons to be learned about how we interact with and evaluate people who may be different from us.

The workshop is presented to Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations who are searching for a new minister, because in many cases, ministers who are presented as candidates have a gender, racial, ethnic or other identity that differs from what the congregation is accustomed to. This can – and has – produced uncomfortable situations both for congregations and their candidates for Settled Minister. Those interactions can leave members and ministers speechless, looking like deer caught in headlights.

Rev. Kron presented case studies (read more here) based on real accounts from UU ministers and congregations in search. For example, a minister of Native American/Indigenous descent met with a social justice committee for the first time. As members introduced themselves, the last person to speak raised one hand and said, “How!” No one could think of anything to say, and looked to the minister, who remained silent.

If you’re thinking nothing like that could happen here, reading the actual case studies may make you reconsider how members of our Community might respond to meeting a minister with, say, a pronounced accent or an apparent disability, a minister who is transgender, nonbinary or bisexual, or who might be older or younger than expected. Can you truly say you hold no conscious or unconscious biases against any and all identities?

Even in the 2020s, UU ministers report they experience discrimination during the search process. Rev. Kron’s central theme was that no one – especially a painstakingly screened and recruited minister – wants to be reduced in anyone’s mind to a single story based on identity.

The Search Team got a lot of positive feedback on the BCT presentation and on the sermon Rev. Kron delivered (watch here) the day after. Several people said that they came to the workshop thinking that they “had bias covered” and during the workshop came to the realization that they still had work to do.

We hope you will take some time to read and think about the case studies, in hopes that if a moment or moments like those happen, you as individuals, and we as a congregation, are better prepared, and we can feel good about our response.

December 14, 2023|Tags: , , , |

Minister Search Team Update: Next Steps in the Search

If you’ve been following the work of your Settled Minister Search Team, you may be wondering, “Now that the team has released its report on the congregational survey, feedback and focus groups, which can be found here, when will they actually start searching?” Good question!

Last week, information from our report was posted online by our Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) for viewing by any ministers interested in a new role. It’s included in what’s called a Congregational Record, a lengthy document about our congregation and its needs, which each congregation in search is required to prepare.

Ministers have until the end of the month to decide where they may want to apply and to submit that information to the UUA’s Transitions Office. That office, headed by Rev. Keith Kron, coordinates searches for our more than 1,000 UU congregations.

Rev. Kron told us last week that about 32 of those congregations are searching for Settled Ministers, of which the UUCC is the second largest. His office will provide names of interested ministers to us on January 2, 2024. That’s when the Search Team will begin the process of reviewing applications, doing preliminary interviews with candidates, and deciding which ministers we want to meet in person.

This confidential process will continue through the end of March and will include visits to Charlotte by a small number of “pre-candidates.” During their visits, those ministers will serve as guest preachers at other congregations outside of Charlotte, and members of the Search Team will attend without revealing the main purpose of their visit.

If this sounds very hush-hush, that’s because it is. As with many people seeking to change jobs, most ministers don’t want it known publicly that they are interviewing. The Search Team will respect confidentiality – in the best interests of the pre-candidates and other UU congregations in search or who might be impacted by a ministerial change.

By March 28, the team expects to make a decision on the best candidate to serve our Community and begin making offers and negotiating a contract with a minister. A Negotiating Team consisting of Ellen Holliday, Ben Baxter (a UUCC Board member), and Jane Gorman (a Board appointee), is responsible for the details and discussions leading to the signing of a contract.

In late April or early May, we expect to propose our candidate to the Board and then to you, the congregation, for approval. The candidate will come to Charlotte for eight days to preach sermons on consecutive Sundays and meet with the Search Team, staff, UUCC leaders and members of our Community. On the final day of the visit, we will hold a special meeting of the congregation to vote on officially “calling” the minister. Our Bylaws require a 90% vote of approval for the next Settled Minister to make it official.

We thank you for your interest and participation in the search process. Watch this space for further updates in the coming months.

Your Settled Minister Search Team,

Barry Ahrendt
Althea Clark
Mic Elvenstar
Ellen Holliday (co-chair)
Rebekah Visco (co-chair)
Dave Warren
Kathryn Whitfield

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