It’s been a whirlwind winter for the Ministerial Search Team, as we hosted our three pre-candidates for three different weekends. And what wonderful weekends they were! We so enjoyed getting to know each of the pre-candidates better, watching each of them lead a Sunday service, and giving them a tour of our facilities and of Austin. Each one of them made an even better impression on us in person than they had in their video interview. Each one of them has so much to offer Unitarian Universalism! It was very encouraging to see what these people will bring to the future of our faith.

Now that our pre-candidating weekends are complete, we enter into our discernment phase. For the next few weeks, we will be busy pondering and discussing. How do each of our pre-candidates score on our rubric? Which portions of the rubric are more important than others? How would each of the pre-candidates’ ministry differ, and where would each of them lead Wildflower? Where are our biases showing up? This will also be a time for us to review, again, their ministerial records, their websites, and their references.

At the end of March, we need to provide the UUA Transitions Office with our list. We are required to tell them whether each of our pre-candidates is a Yes, a No, or a Maybe. If we have more than one “yes,” we will need to rank them in order of first choice, second choice, and so on. Meanwhile, the pre-candidates are submitting the same type of list on their end — whether each church they visited is a Yes, No, or Maybe, and if they have more than one Yes, ranking those churches in their preferred order. All we can tell you right now is that we are highly satisfied with all three of our pre-candidates! Each of them is amazing in their own way, and our challenge will be deciding exactly which names to send to the UUA and in which order of preference.

Once the Transitions Office receives everyone’s list, they act as somewhat of a matchmaking entity. The Transitions Office will never interfere or force any church to choose anybody that they do not want. But they may reply to us with a comment like, “You will be very happy when you reach out to your first option,” or “It looks like your first option is thinking elsewhere, but your next option is available.” And so on. Their intent is to make the overall process smoother for everyone. But we can always pursue our first choice even if the Transitions Office cautions against it.

We should know by early April if we have a potential candidate. If we do, we won’t be able to share that person’s name with you until they pass a background check and we finalize the details of the contract. At that point, we will be able to introduce you to them via email and let you know when they will be coming to Wildflower for Candidating Week and the congregational vote.

If we end up without a candidate — if, for example, each of our three pre-candidates chooses another congregation — then we will be able to inform you of that, and it will be up to the Board and the Search Team to decide whether to enter the second phase of search or not. If that happens, we will let you know all the details about that phase.

So the work continues, but we are very close to the end of our process! Thank you so much for supporting our work and understanding our absence from church lately. We are grateful for the trust you have placed in us. And, as always, do not hesitate to email us at search@wildflowerchurch.org if you have any questions.