Today’s blog post comes to you from Libby Head:
Greetings, Wildflower Beloveds!
You all know that when we were searching for a new minister, we had a number of different criteria in mind. Ministry is a true “profession”, one which bears quite a few different areas in which a capable minister is expected to shine. Sermons and services, pastoral care, justice and living out our UU values: a settled minister simply has to be strong in those areas, and Sarah possesses all those qualities in spades.
But did you know that Sarah also has the most nuts-and-bolts administrative church experience of any of our top several choices for minister? It’s true! In fact, she has functioned as the de facto lead minister at UU Church of Eugene for two long stretches of time.
After Sarah completed her internship with UUCE, the congregation received special permission to hire her to continue with them, not as a minister (which is not considered appropriate) but as Coordinator of Outreach and Engagement, a new position they created entirely for her. In this role, she was regularly engaged with other staff members to plan worship, connect with congregants, and continue to deliver occasional sermons and Times for All Ages.
Then the lead minister at UUCE, Reverend Lois Van Leer (a.k.a. Rev. Lo), took an extended period of leave from November 2019 through January 2020. Her wife had been experiencing serious health concerns for some time, and at one point it came to be, unfortunately, that Rev. Lo needed to step away for a longer period in order to be together with her wife in the time that remained to them as a couple. Sarah took up the general management of the church in addition to her existing role–all while she was finishing coursework at seminary and working on her own search for a congregation! This wasn’t the first time she had assumed oversight for Rev. Lo; in summer of 2019, Rev. Lo had a knee replacement surgery followed by her regular vacation time. Sarah wound up preaching eight weeks in a row and taking care of administrative duties during that time as well.
Taking on this broad umbrella of responsibilities not once, but twice, involved frequent meetings with other staff members to plan and coordinate weekly services as well as support other church activities. It involved pastoral care and connection with the congregants during times when they were concerned for their minister. It also demanded serious time management and planning to be able to facilitate all this, sometimes remotely, sometimes while working around pre-candidating weekends and in-person seminary sessions in Chicago. By all accounts, Sarah handled these periods beautifully and with full trust from Rev. Lo and the congregation.
Even though we as a Search Team were not combing through possible ministers to find someone with extraordinary administrative chops, we are very pleased with the “grace under pressure” that Sarah has demonstrated so far. Your Search Team is convinced that Sarah will come into Wildflower, not only ready to listen and learn and support our mission, but with a wealth of awareness about healthy, functional church administration. We can’t wait for you to see this in action!