We haven’t made a blog post in a few weeks, but in case you’ve been wondering, we’re still hard at work!

We have just about finished the revisions to our survey questions, which we’ll be asking you to complete during the month of September.  This survey is so very important for us to learn about who our congregation is and what we want and need in a minister at this stage of our life.  It’s kind of long, and it may take you 15 or 20 minutes to complete, but we very much hope that everyone will participate. It just won’t be an accurate representation of our church unless everyone fills it out — members and non-members alike.

Also in September, we’ve scheduled a special Search Team worship service for Sunday, September 15.  Rev. Ferguson will be leading the service and we, the Search Team, will be assisting. This will be an opportunity for us to share with you all, in person, the important work that we’re doing, the need for your participation, and our hopes for this process.  We hope you can be there.

And, the following weekend, we’ll have our Beyond Categorical Thinking workshop, on Sunday, September 22, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., in the Community Room.  As we’ve mentioned before, this is a workshop put together by the UUA — ours will be led by Gil Guerrero of Carrollton, Texas — that is designed to address unspoken biases in the search process. In the workshop, we will explore our hopes and concerns for a new minister, as well as learn how our own history (both personal and congregational) might interfere with our efforts in this search. Ultimately, beyond being a terrific opportunity for us to face our own biases, our full participation in this workshop signals to prospective ministers that we are serious about being anti-racist, anti-oppressive, and welcoming to all, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or physical or mental ability. Please make plans to be there. Childcare will be provided.

In other news, Search Team Member Michelle attended the UUA’s General Assembly June 19-23 in Spokane, Washington.  She attended a special workshop for ministerial search teams from all over the U.S. — all the way from Maine to Alaska! In fact, it turns out that 65 different UU churches are searching for ministers this year, although only 40 of those are seeking settled ministers like we are.  And, there are at this point 85 candidates seeking ministerial positions.

But back to GA!  In Michelle’s workshop, they discussed the importance of staying in covenant with the UUA Transitions Team, the ministerial candidates, the other congregations in search, and our own team and congregations, to make sure we have a fair and healthy process in our search. They also talked about how important it was to stay on schedule — in order to make sure everything goes smoothly and we are able to handle challenges in a timely manner — while keeping in mind that this is truly a spiritual/personal and community growth journey for all of us involved.

The survey, BCT workshop, cottage meetings, and focus groups were all emphasized as extremely important, to make sure we are able to recognize our unseen biases that we carry with us and to help us, as a search team, make sure we know what YOU, the congregation, needs in our next minister to keep our church community strong and moving forward.

The Transitions Team helped with giving practical information about all the ins and outs of how to choose the right candidates for our congregations. They also went into the details about how to best go about ranking our choices and the specifics of the interviewing process. 

Finally, the Transitions Team didn’t mince words about compensation and how this was the most important aspect in a successful search.  We have to be realistic in our compensation plan but also make sure we are being fair. They specifically called out areas that are having challenges with the high cost of housing, like Seattle and, of course, Austin, and how this will play into compensation. They suggested that we be extremely familiar with what benefits we will be offering. This will help sell our congregation to a candidate, by putting their mind at ease that we are well-informed when it comes to all aspects of our compensation negotiations.  

All in all, we’ve got a lot of work ahead, but we’re moving forward, and we can’t wait for YOU to get involved!