From the Minister
In Jay's column in the current issue of Voices,
he discusses the second minister position. An archive of these and other columns by the Ministers is maintained and is accessible on the left:
February 25, 2015
If you are a member of the UUCC, you are aware that we are trying to complete our “Celebrate Commitment” stewardship emphasis so that we will know how to budget for the coming year. You are also aware that, in part, our call for greater financial generosity on the part of our members has to do with our need for a second minister on our professional staff.
We continue to be the largest congregation in the UUA with one professional minister and, for that matter, continue to have one of the smaller professional staffs of any large UU congregation. Thanks to your generosity, we have made impressive strides in recent years, adding first a Director of Administration, then a comprehensive Director of Music, and, more recently, an Adult Programming Coordinator and, just this year, a Membership Coordinator. Each of these professional staff positions has allowed us to expand significantly what we are able to offer to our current members, to those who may be attracted to what we have to offer, and to our larger community.
Because of these staff additions, we’re now able to plan for a second minister who can help carry the immense ministerial responsibilities that come from being a congregation with almost 700 adult members and around 200 children and youth. Rather than having a distinct job description with particular assigned areas of responsibilities, we are now imagining a second minister engaged in sharing the responsibilities that I have including: planning and leading services, leading areas of our congregation’s programming, teaching, addressing congregational concerns and needs, and serving as a voice in the larger community. Information in the stewardship materials explores the direct impact on our programming that we can anticipate from the presence of a second minister.
Informed by clear feedback and direction from our prior Second Minister Selection Team and in regular conversation with our Board of Trustees and professional staff, over the past months I have been seeking a colleague with whom I can partner here. I’ve reached out to colleagues across the country asking for recommendations and connections, I’ve engaged in hours of conversation, and have considered many possibilities.
At the same time, our congregation has embarked upon a vision process designed to inform how we will approach the coming decades. Led by a Board-appointed Vision Steering Team, we’re asking deep questions about who and how we will be and are approaching this process open to new and compelling possibilities for the UUCC.
As I have been a part of both processes—the search for a colleague and the exploration of our long term future—I have been increasingly concerned about the timing of these two major initiatives. Here’s my concern: the vision process in which we are engaged may call us to invest much more deeply in particular areas or to make major strides in new directions. As such, this vision we craft together may call for a new, different kind of ministerial leadership.
Here’s an example: for a very long time the UUCC has expressed an aspiration to be a congregation that more closely reflects the racial plurality that exists in our region. Should we decide that one of our major emphases for the coming decades will be to commit to considerably more intentional work in this area, and should we determine that our greatest possibility for success will come by having a racially diverse ministerial staff, that would necessitate a search for a colleague of color who can join me in leading this effort in the coming years. (Please understand, at this point this is just an example; no such direction is in place at this stage from our vision process.)
For this reason, again in conversation with our Board and staff, I have considered the possibility that bringing in a colleague for a shorter tenure may be advised. I desperately need help with the responsibilities I have here but don’t want to foreclose on future possibilities by hiring a colleague who may be a less than optimal leader for our new vision. So, I have transitioned in my search from someone who had the prospects of being a long term presence on our professional staff to now seeking someone able to come in and make an immediate difference but without the expectation of a long term commitment here. Once our future direction is clearer, we would then embark upon a search for a more settled second minister.
I’ve written before in the format to update you on our thinking and have invited your perspective. While I continue to welcome your personal responses, I also want to offer an opportunity soon for a collective conversation on this matter. On Sunday, March 15 at 10:30 a.m. I invite you to join me for a congregational conversation about our second minister process. We want this session to be open to our whole congregation and so childcare will be provided during this time. We anticipate considerable interest in this conversation and will hold it in the sanctuary rather than the Bernstein Room should your response warrant that setting.
In the meantime, I urge your generous response to our current pledge campaign. We have a considerable ways to go before we can be confident about our capacity to support the cost of a second minister. I’m immensely gratified by your enthusiastic response to the kinds of Sunday services we’ve been providing—with guest speakers like Rev. William Barber II, Leon Spencer, Clark Olsen, and Osama Idlibi supplementing our many other services. I am so pleased that at long last we are able to offer substantive programming for adults and am heartened by energized reactions to some of the things we are now offering on a weekly basis. I am bolstered by the ongoing quality of our music program and programming for youth and children. I am proud of the dramatically increased presence we have in the larger community.
We need all of our members to pledge your generous financial support. We are not interested in simply sustaining what we are doing now, maintaining the status quo here with the same level of financial support. We still have unmet needs, unrealized potential, and, quite frankly, a ministerial load far too heavy for one person to try to carry. Please pledge generously so that can move forward. And, please offer me your feedback to this column and participate in the session on March 15.