We have been absolutely thrilled with Rev. Brian Ferguson’s leadership these last few years, and we will be so sorry to see him leave. But we are also very excited to see what the future holds and what a new minister will bring!
For those who don’t know, our Board of Trustees hired Rev. Ferguson in 2015 for a three-year contract as a Developmental Minister. Developmental ministry is intended to be a relatively short-term (three to five years) arrangement to address specific goals. Our goals were membership growth, financial stability, clarity on roles and responsibilities, learning to disagree and remain in covenant, and doing “church” in multi-faceted ways.
After two years, the congregation voted in 2017 to extend Rev. Ferguson’s contract to 2020. We also expanded our goals over time to add: partner for social justice with other community groups and churches to provide direct service, education, and advocacy; develop processes for integrating visitors and members into the life of the congregation; develop and support vibrant ARE and C&YRE programs; and continue, in worship, to balance spirituality, social justice, and intellectual understanding of religion.
Now, as Rev. Ferguson’s contract nears its end, it is time for Wildflower to seek out a settled minister.
A settled minister is different from a developmental minister because settled ministry is intended to be long-term. In addition, deciding on a settled minister requires the vote of the congregation, as opposed to just the Board of Trustees. The Unitarian Universalist Association has a detailed list of guidelines that will instruct us as we go through the settlement process, and you can learn more about it on its website.
Using the UUA guidelines, Wildflower worked on selecting its Search Team during the first few months of 2019. Board members called all the voting members of the church and asked for their input on who would be a good fit for this team, and then the congregation voted on those names. The Board selected the four people who received the most votes, then selected four more people from that list to round out the team, making sure we had diversity in terms of age, race, length of membership, and church involvement. The eight-member team was announced to the congregation on April 1, 2019, and we had our first meeting on April 10, 2019.
We want to keep you informed of our work as much as possible, while also respecting the need for a certain amount of confidentiality in this process. To keep up with what we are able to share, please check our blog, which will be updated after each of our meetings, as well as after anything significant occurs or is planned.
And of course, if you have any questions about the search process, please don’t hesitate to ask any of us when you see us, or email email@example.com. We want you to know what’s going on and to feel comfortable with this process!
The Ministerial Search Team
Below, please find short biographies of the members of the Search Team, along with a biography of our Transition Coach, who will be working with us throughout the year-long process.
Cathy has been a member of Wildflower for 15 years. She has served on the Building Team, the Endowment Team, the Bylaws Team, the Fun & Fellowship Team (as chair), the Membership Team (as chair), and the Board (as Secretary and President). She has also taught children’s RE, sung in the choir, been a lay leader, been a greeter, led a Hospitality Team, and attended an Undoing Racism training and a Beloved Conversations class. She is very excited to be a part of the Ministerial Search Team and looks forward to working with a great group of people!
David has been an active UU in North Texas for 15 years. He has served on the Board and Social Action Committee (chair) at Red River UU, and was active in the search for a part-time minister. After retiring, he and his wife, Cylvia, moved to the Austin area in August 1997 and joined Wildflower in March 2018. Since joining, he has been active on the Endowment Team and Facilities/Safety Team and can often be found at the greeting table on Sunday morning. He is excited to be a member of a welcoming and growing congregation and is looking forward to being a part of the ministerial selection process.
Esmeralda attended Wildflower for a few years before becoming a member on March 25th 2018. She has taught Religious Education classes, helped out on the Hospitality Team, as well as occasionally cooked for the Pastoral Care Team. Two standout educational classes she has taken are Articulating Your UU Faith and Building the Beloved Community Project. Her partner Sean, son Rufus, and daughter Beatriz are part of the congregation. She looks forward to serving Wildflower as a member of the Ministerial Search Team.
Libby has been a member with her partner, Randy Carter, for about 4 years, joining shortly after moving from Iowa. She has been involved with the Worship Team and Communication Team in the past. Libby has especially enjoyed taking an Undoing Racism training and serving as a facilitator for a Beloved Conversations series. Her other contributions have included playing djembe drum and sharing reflections in services, organizing the fiesta for the Scholarship Sabbath, serving on the Internship Committee for Erin Walter, mixing drinks at the Musical Revue, and mastering the weekly banner installation. She is an elementary Montessori teacher and looks forward to working on this big project with such a great group of Wildflowers.
Laurie Willis Patterson
In 2001, Laurie was one of the original “UUs of South Austin” (which became “Wildflower Church”.) She’s been actively involved ever since. Sunday service planning, lay leading, and music contribution is where her heart is mostly. Laurie has also co-led the annual Stewardship drive, been a member of the Dream Scholarship selection committee, served on the Board nominating committee, and co-organized one of the Women’s Retreats. She has taught in Children’s RE, created presentations for the Time for All Ages, done plays/skits with Wildflower kids, and contributed to Fundraising events over the years. She also served on 2 Ministerial Fellowship Committees, so has a sense of what to look for in a good minister, and one who will embrace the distinct needs of Wildflower Church. She looks forward to the process of the search!
Michelle, her husband Terry, and sons, Ethan and Evan started attending Wildflower in August 2015. Michelle and Terry became members the following August. She has served on the Adult and Children’s RE Team and volunteered as a teacher in the Children’s RE program and co-facilitated the Articulating Your UU Faith class. She became co-chair of the Fundraising Team and helped organize a few fundraisers. She was part of the Building the Beloved Community Team, attended the Beloved Conversations workshop, and has done Undoing Racism training. She has participated in events with the Climate Action Team and other climate justice groups. She currently serves on the Space Use Team, is a Sunday Greeter and Welcomer, leads Team PEACE in Hospitality, and is part of Rev. Erin Walter’s Committee on Ministry Team. Michelle is looking forward to being part of the Ministerial Search Team and helping Wildflower in this next part of our spiritual community’s journey.
Tommy started attending Wildflower Church with his wife Lisa and 2 kids, Erin and Caelin in the fall of 2005 and joined in the summer of 2006. In that time, he has served as an RE Teacher, lay leader, and on the Board as Treasurer. He is currently the chair of the Finance Team and leads a hospitality team. Tommy has also been part of an Undoing Racism training and co-led a Beloved Conversations class. He is very excited to be a part of the Ministerial Search Team and looks forward to continuing to advance Wildflower into the future.
Rev. Philip Douglas
Rev. Douglas is a retired Unitarian Universalist minister who lives in Oklahoma City, where he and his spouse Susan moved to be close to family, especially grandchildren. Phil served the Unitarian Universalist Church of Corpus Christi, Texas, for six years before retiring in 2014. Prior to ministry, Phil worked in business as a financial and business analyst and CPA for a public utility holding corporation. Philip is presently doing a terrible job at being retired, as he is the chair of his church’s pastoral care committee, a leader of a weekly Bible study, and a worship leader for a weekly vigil outside the ICE office, as well as an occasional consultant for the UUA.
Ministerial Search Blog
Fantastic News! Last Sunday, Wildflower Church voted in favor of calling Sarah Skochko as our settled minister, with an anticipated start date of August 1, 2020! And, Sarah accepted! We are so very excited about what the future brings with Sarah’s ministry! The...read more
Hello, I am Esmeralda. It has been an honor and privilege to work with Cathy, Tommy, Michelle, David, Laurie, and Libby. They are stellar. Sarah Skochko is an awesome person. Sarah is a great candidate that would be of outstanding benefit to Wildflower or wherever she...read more
Parents, don’t miss this chance for your kids and youth to get to know our ministerial candidate, Sarah Skochko! The fun happens tomorrow, Tuesday, April 28, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Here’s the plan:5:30-6:00 p.m. with Ms. Marie (littles to first grade)6:00-6:30 p.m. with...read more
Tired of dining alone, or with all the same people, during the pandemic? Now’s your chance to shake things up a bit! Sarah invites you to join her for a dinner party on Zoom tomorrow, Saturday, April 25, at 6 p.m. Fix your grub ahead of time and click this link at 6...read more
In a typical Candidating Week, our congregation would be interacting with Sarah in a more casual, individual manner, spread over time. We've scheduled a number of small-group Chats to serve that purpose. However, there would typically also be a whole-church question...read more
Today we're sharing with you a delightful 15-minute video that Sarah made with her partner Ed! Here's what she says about it: Due to the ongoing pandemic, we were unable to come to Austin to meet everyone at Wildflower Church in person. So in order to help you get to...read more
You’ve been to a Zoom worship service. You’ve been to a Zoom meeting. Now’s your opportunity to attend a Zoom webinar! Sarah will be hosting a Zoom webinar on Sunday, April 26, at 1 p.m., or 15 minutes after the worship service ends. She will answer any questions you...read more
In an effort to help you get to know Sarah a little bit better, today we’d like to share with you a short video she made for Wildflower about her pet snails! Enjoy! https://youtu.be/Ii8ZAPK4fgYread more
*Corrections have been made to this post. Some of you have asked us what will happen if we don’t call Sarah as our minister. The honest answer is, we don’t know. But we can give you some idea of the possibilities. First, you should know that Wildflower is not eligible...read more
No, the Ministerial Search Team cannot tell you how to pray! 🙂 But we thought you might be interested to hear how Sarah prays. Here is her reflection on that topic -- it's about six minutes long: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2IZj0UZKgIread more