Ministerial Search Team

If you were at church on May 12, you know that our Transition Coach, Rev. Phil, spoke to us about what UU’s believe.  He also discussed how important it is for us as a congregation to figure out what we believe in as we search for our new minister.

Cathy was the lay worship leader that day, and she gave a reflection about her perspective on the search process so far.  Here’s what she said:

When I first heard that Brian would be leaving us in August of 2020, I knew immediately that I wanted to be on the Search Team for a new minister — and not just because I’m a control freak.  I wanted to be a part of it because it’s something I’ve never done before, and I enjoy new experiences.  Plus, the work sounded interesting and meaningful.

What I didn’t appreciate back then was the awesome responsibility that I — we, the whole Search Team — would be undertaking.  I didn’t fully understand the immense trust and faith that you, the congregation, would be placing in us, to represent you and to make a decision that we feel will be best for Wildflower.

Now I do.  And to be honest, it’s a little overwhelming.

I’m scared.  I’m afraid of letting you down.  

At the same time, I’m grateful.  Grateful for your trust. Grateful for the six other wonderful people on the Search Team.  Grateful that the UUA has provided us with a really thorough handbook to help us. Grateful for Rev. Phil’s terrific guidance as we go through this process.  

And I’m especially grateful to Brian, for giving us the opportunity for a good ending to his ministry.  I don’t think any of us is happy that Brian is leaving next year — I’m certainly not. He has been such a wonderful minister to us these last four years.  But the fact that he has given us plenty of notice, and that he is leaving us on good terms, is truly a gift. We have time to process, to grieve, and to move on.  We need that, and we’re so fortunate to have it.

Now, we’ve got a lot of work ahead for the next year, and it’s a bit daunting.  And I need you to know that we, the team, cannot do this without you. We’re here to represent you, and we can’t do that if you don’t participate.  So please — after today’s service, if you haven’t already done so, write the qualities you’d like to have in a new minister on our person outline in the Community Room.  And when the time comes, answer the survey questions, and attend the forums. We all have to do our part for the next year to make this process effective and successful.

And yet, having said that, the truth is that, even if we do everything right, we could still come up empty-handed, if the team doesn’t feel that any of the candidates is right for Wildflower.  Please remember that, if that happens, it is not failure. The UUA has made very clear that it’s better to find nobody than to hire the wrong person. So if that should happen, don’t lose hope.  All it means is that we’ll be lay-led for a year while we enter the search process again, with a new Search Team and new ministerial candidates. Almost every year, this happens to one or two churches in the search process, and if it happens to us, we’ll be fine.  Really.

I am so very grateful for your trust and faith in me and this team.  We are committed to doing our very best for Wildflower. And, we might be a little stressed at times throughout the next year.  So when you see us, please don’t hesitate to offer words of encouragement to us, and maybe even a hug.

Many of you have been wondering about the timeline of our search for a new minister, so we wanted to take a moment to share the details with you.

There will be two basic phases of our work.  The first phase will be coming up with a packet of information about Wildflower.  This packet is called our “Congregational Record,” and its purpose is to give any potential ministers a good picture of who we are:  what our values are, what our successes and struggles are, what kind of minister we’re looking for. This phase will last most of 2019 and will require much input from the congregation, through online surveys and in-person forums and workshops.  Our deadline for submitting our Congregational Record is December 1, 2019.

Meanwhile, during this time period, ministerial candidates will be doing the same basic thing on their end — creating a packet of information about themselves which indicates their approach to ministry, their strengths and struggles, and what kind of church they’re looking for.

Beginning in January, 2020, all the information gets swapped, and we will spend the rest of our time in the second phase: selecting a candidate.  This, too, will be a lengthy process, as we will begin with initial screening, phone interviews, and reference checks. At that time, our goal will be to decide on three “pre-candidates” who we will then invite to Austin during February or early March to meet in person and hear them preach at a neutral location (not at Wildflower).  On March 19, 2020, we will make our offer to our first-choice candidate.

Assuming that person accepts our offer, they will then come to Wildflower for a “candidating week” sometime in April.  At that time, they will meet our church leaders, preach at a worship service, and generally get acquainted with our congregation. During that time frame, we will also be negotiating the specifics of the contract and conducting a background check.  At the conclusion of the week, the congregation will vote on the candidate at a specially-called congregational meeting.

To be clear, a healthy search process focuses on process, not results.  We very much hope to be able to present a ministerial candidate to the congregation a year from now.  But even if we do everything right, it may be that there just isn’t anybody who we feel would be a good fit for Wildflower.  The UUA makes clear that it is better to recommend nobody than to recommend the wrong person. If we should come up empty-handed, the result will be that Wildflower will be lay-led for a year while we go through the search process a second time with a new search team and new ministerial candidates.

If you would like more information about the timeline of our search process and what to expect for the next twelve months, please do not hesitate to email us at search@wildflowerchurch.org.

That’s right!  Have you noticed?  There’s a big yellow human figure outline on the west closet doors in the Community Room!  It will be there over the next four weeks, and we are asking that you help us by writing in it the quality/qualities you would most like to see in a new minister.

This is only the beginning of our search process.  Over the next few months, we will be conducting numerous surveys and exercises seeking your input, in order to ensure that everyone has a voice.  This particular exercise is designed to get you brainstorming!

After May 12, this poster will be taken down and the results used to guide the Search Team in our work.  So please, while it’s there, take a moment to write your ideal qualities in it. And if you see that the trait you desired is already listed, please feel free to add one of the adhesive stars that are near the poster to show that you “like” the trait.

Thank you so much for participating!