This blog post is brought to you by Search Team member Libby Head:
If you’ve talked with any of the Ministerial Search Team members or if you’ve been reading our blog, you may know that the search for a new Minister is quite a complex process. First we went on a retreat, in part simply to get us oriented to our handbook. Our ninety-nine page handbook. It’s a completely overhauled edition, compiled over eight years of observation and reflection within the UUA. There are many rules, guidelines, tips, protocols, and schedules in this useful tome, and during our Search Team meetings we frequently refer to it on our laptops.
Sounds pretty intensive, right? Well, we have an equally lengthy responsibility in terms of the documents we create as part of the search, too. We will create a detailed survey to administer to you all in hopes of attaining valuable, rich insights to guide our process. We have to create something called a “Congregational Record” and a “Documents Packet”.
Those are pretty vague-sounding terms, so perhaps imagine creating a personal ad (remember those? My generation is probably the last to have seen them in print) in the hopes of finding that perfect long-term partner. Now make sure your ad is detailed–we’re talking thousands of words long, answering dozens of questions about your needs and preferences. Be honest! Warts and all, as they say! Be sure to include your latest tax return, a copy of your driver’s license, the notes from your last therapy session, and a two-page autobiography that includes all of your previous partners.
That’s the Congregational Record and the Documents Packet in a nutshell.
What’s exciting about working with all this text–the handbook plus what we create–is that the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) has come out with entirely re-done elements of the search process just in the last couple of years. I mentioned that our handbook for search just got that massive update, but besides that, the UUA also completely revamped the questions that all the congregations have to fill out to complete their Congregational Records. And they’ve just unveiled at this summer’s General Assembly a preferred set of survey questions for us to use (whereas previously you could get suggestions but you could freestyle anything you wanted).
Why all this change? Well, we’re not sure. But I have some theories. You might be aware (because UUs love to be aware!) of some of the controversies that have gripped our Unitarian Universalist movement in recent years. As we grow, develop, and struggle together spiritually, the UUA leadership has made some important, long-time-comin’ kinds of changes. At the same time, amidst those efforts, the movement has made some big missteps, too. UUs keep having our eyes lovingly opened to areas where we fall short of our ideals. Even in our mighty striving for justice, equity, and inclusion, we have much more work to do. So, I believe that at UUA headquarters they’ve been giving a hard look to practices that need improvement, and working hard to refresh some of the areas that need it.
These rejuvenated approaches won’t affect you directly, beloved Wildflowers, but you will hopefully see the results in terms of the candidate for Minister whom the Search Team eventually introduces to you next spring. We will do our best to use the improved UUA resources to find you a candidate who’s as passionate as Wildflowers are about love, justice, and joy. There might still be difficulties along the way, but we trust you’ll let us know so we can share what needs a change. Everyone in our community is critical to conducting a good search process, from the unknown folks far away in the Transitions Office at UUA headquarters right down to you and me!