Last fall we announced our search for an Interim Director of Lifespan Religious Education. We were looking for someone who could bring an outside perspective to help us take stock of the history, culture and day-to-day functioning of our religious education programming following the retirement of both our Director of Religious Education for Children and Youth (CYRE) and our Adult Programming Coordinator. We also hoped an Interim would help us begin to reimagine how we do religious education as a congregation, including bridging the current separation between the adult experience of congregational life and the experience of our children and youth.

We gathered a strong search group composed of both our ministers and three members: Craig Harbold representing Family Ministry, Melissa Schropp representing CYRE, and Julie Smith representing Adult Religious Education and Spiritual Development (ARESD).

After delaying our search to better align with the established search cycle followed by Unitarian Universalist congregations, we interviewed an impressive pool of candidates and eventually extended an offer to a candidate we were particularly excited about.

As promised in the title of this article, here is the bad news.

In the midst of negotiations and planning a start date, our candidate accepted another position.

As you might imagine, our search group was crestfallen following the emotional rollercoaster of hope, excitement, and then disappointment of a failed search. We purposefully selected for our search group, three members of our congregation who have invested their energy and attention in our community for years and who care deeply about our collective future. Their insight and commitment throughout the ups and downs of this process have been a gift.

In the midst of processing the bad news, we found our way to a new approach that, we are relieved and delighted to report, has brought its own momentum of excitement and possibility.

Which brings us to four parts of good news.

For now, we are putting the turn outward in search of innovation on hold. Instead, we have decided to turn inward in search of leaders who know, love and are invested in our religious education programming already. People who already know the inner workings of the day-to-day operations of learning and fun on Sunday mornings for children and youth or of planning an array of engaging adult programming offerings.

As we reemerge as an in-person congregation in the months ahead, we want to have a strong team of experienced leaders collaborating to keep our programming running.

With that in mind, we have recruited a team of UUCC members who will be hired in part-time contract positions, working in concert to create and coordinate our religious education programming for all ages. Each of these members brings years of experience in a variety of areas of congregational life and strengths and skills well-suited for their new roles.

We’re excited to share that these members have agreed to serve in the following capacities:

Sharon Baker, who has gone above and beyond in her service as Chair of our Adult Religious Education and Spiritual Development Team, will coordinate our adult programming.

Working alongside Sharon will be three members who will be focused on our Children and Youth Religious Education program.

Lisa Walls, who has been an intrepid part-time Coordinator of CYRE since January, will continue to help orchestrate CYRE each week from nursery through elementary-age children.

Melissa Schropp, who has taught in our CYRE program for years and is just ending her stint on the Interim Lifespan RE Search Group, will join Lisa in working with nursery through elementary-age children.

Michael Amy Cira, who has served as a High School Youth Advisor and leader for our Coming of Age program for years, will coordinate our youth programming (6th – 12th grades).

Our ministers are grateful for the opportunity to work with this stellar cast of leaders to provide engaging programming throughout the 2021-2022 congregational year.

Please reach out with gratitude and excitement to welcome Lisa, Melissa, Michael Amy and Sharon aboard!