Ministerial Transition Q & A

1. Q:  Since Christine has announced she’s retiring in August 2017, what do we do now?

A:  First Unitarian’s by-laws set forth the procedure for calling a Senior Minister:

Article 3 Section 01 Senior Minister

 (a)   Selection

A new Senior Minister will be selected through a search and candidacy procedure recommended by the UUA. In advance of the search, the exact process will be determined by the Board with the following requirements:

  • The Search Committee members shall be members of the Church, nominated by the Leadership Succession Committee, and elected by the Congregation at a duly called Congregational meeting.
  • The Church’s Senior Minister must be in fellowship with the UUA.


2. Q: How will this process start?

 A:  The Board has appointed a Ministerial Transition Team to develop the process, and the team will conduct Town Hall meetings to explain the process.  Briefly, the process is:

  • A Search Committee will be nominated by the Leadership Succession Committee (LSC) based on members who submit an application to the LSC by December 7, 2016.
  • The Search Committee will be elected by the congregation at the annual congregational meeting on January 29, 2017.
  • The Search Committee will develop methods for determining the congregation’s desires for the future direction of the church, and the qualities desired in our new Senior Minister.
  •  Per our bylaws,  all applications must be made through the LSC. Therefore, no nominations for the Search Committee will be taken from the floor.


3. Q: Once the Search Committee obtains the congregation’s desires, will the job be advertised?

 A:  The UUA has a covenant with ministers that any interested internal candidates be considered before opening the job up to outside candidates.


4. Q: Why?

 A:  Both for the benefit of the internal candidate and any external candidates.

  • Internal candidates are known to the congregation, so their flaws as well as their good points can be determined; external candidates’ flaws may not appear until after they are selected.
  • Candidates must spend a lot of work preparing their application packages; if external candidates know there is a well-liked internal candidate, they might not be willing to do that work, thus limiting the number of applicants.


5. Q: Do we have an internal candidate?

A:  Yes, the Rev. Angela Herrera has expressed preliminary interest, provided the congregation’s future direction and her own goals are a good match.


6. Q: So why do we need a Search Committee, instead of just voting on Angela?

A:  It is important that the congregation determine what direction they want for the church, not just who they like. This is an open, transparent process. It will be a process of mutual discernment.(Discernment, as used here, refers to a process through which a group jointly studies its mission and founding principles and engages in dialogue on an issue, allowing multiple alternatives to be weighed with the mind and heart in a collaborative manner, collectively sensing what common direction emerges.)


7. Q: So why is it a Search Committee, instead of a Discernment Committee?

 A:  Because our by-laws use the term “Search Committee.”


8. Q: Once the Search (discernment) Committee has determined the congregation’s desires, then what?

 A:  If, after determining the congregation’s desires, Angela and the Search Committee agree that she would be a good match for Senior Minister, the Search Committee will conduct a candidating week for Angela, including the opportunity for dialogue and sharing with the congregation, which will conclude with a special congregational meeting to call the Senior Minister.


9.  Q: When will the candidating week and the special congregational meeting take place?

A:  If the search committee recommends Angela to the congregation, the plan would be for the candidating week in early May and the vote on May 7th.


10. : What is the required quorum for the special congregational meeting?

A:  Thirty percent of all members in good standing of the church must be present to call a Senior Minister.  That includes branch members (by phone or Skype).


11. Q: What is the necessary “yes” vote required to call the Senior Minister?

A:  A minimum of 80 % affirmative vote is required; however, many ministers are unwilling to accept a call of less than 90 or 95%, in order to ensure the congregation’s full confidence.


12. Q: What happens if Angela is not called or does not accept the call?

A:   If, at any time in the process, Angela, the Search Committee, or the congregation determines she is not a good match for Senior Minister, we will hire an interim Senior Minister when Christine retires, and conduct a national search.


13. Q: If Angela is called, how do we get a second minister?

A:  If Angela is called, she will hire a temporary interim second minister while she settles in as Senior Minister, and take the time to find the right fit for a permanent second minister.  That’s based on the recommendation of a sister large congregation that recently went through the same transition we are facing, and found by experience it is better not to try to fill both Senior and second Minister positions at the same time.


14. Q: If Angela, the Search Committee, or the congregation decides she is not a good match for Senior Minister, will Angela stay as our second Minister?

A:  That would be Angela’s decision; however, it might not be comfortable for her or the congregation for her to stay.


15. Q: What impact will this process have on the church budget?

 A:   Based on careful analysis by the staff, it has been determined that the impact of calling an internal candidate on the budget will be negligible.


16. Q: If I have more questions about the process, who should I ask?

 A:  Any member of the Ministerial Transition Team: