As noted in earlier articles, much is happening at People’s Church. Our feasibility study just concluded and the board will receive a report from our consultant, Jeff Susor, on February 5, 2014. The board looks forward to learning what you had to share about this important topic, discerning next steps in the process, and returning to the congregation for guidance.
At the Sunday, Jan. 26 service, Rev. Pam announced that she and the board had come to a decision that People’s Church would seek a different interim minister to guide the church through the second year of transition. An all-church meeting was held after this service, the first of three such meetings scheduled for January, February and March. In addition to discussing our unique identity as a community during this time of change, we also discussed what the change in interim ministers meant. The options that have always been available to us are “plan A,” one minister for the two years of transition, or “plan B,” two interim ministers – one for each of the two years. Indeed, the standard interim contract is for one year, with the possibility of renewal, created that way so the interim minister and board can determine what is best for any particular congregation. It was only after much consideration by the board and Rev. Pam, that a common decision was made to go with “plan B.”
As Rev. Pam tells us, it is not uncommon after the departure of a beloved minister to utilize two, rather than one, interim minister, as this approach gives the congregation greater exposure to different ministerial styles and to developing an understanding of how the congregation wishes to move forward with a new settled minister. This likely feels uncomfortable, even unnerving, to many of us, as we are just getting to know Rev. Pam and the many ways in which she can help us navigate this period of transition. This decision, however, was not reached in haste and reflects sound counsel from Rev. Pam and honest discernment of what can be of use to us next year as we search for our next settled minister. Meanwhile, Rev. Pam continues to be our minister through the month of May and will continue to help us do the very important work we are called to do each day.
As we did last year, we will work with the UUA to identify strong candidates to serve as our second interim minister. That process begins with our application, due on April 17, followed by an interview process that begins April 28th or 29th. If we are successful in round 1, as we were this past year, we will make an offer to an interim minister no later than May 9th. If all goes well, we will know who our next interim minister is before Rev. Pam completes her time with People’s Church.
I reported in December that church leadership would be on retreat January 18. However, due to illness, our retreat was canceled, but has been rescheduled for February 8th. Our Ministerial Settlement Representative, Naná Kratochvil, will guide us through the initial steps of beginning the search process for our next settled minister (who will begin work with us in August 2015). There will be a report on the retreat at the all-church meeting after the service on February 23rd. Please plan to stay after church that day and be part of that important conversation. We will be discussing the process of forming our settled minister search committee, as well as important lessons we have learned from our past.
Elsewhere in this News and Views is a call from the Nominating Committee, looking for people interested in assuming leadership roles in the church. Each year, the Nominating Committee identifies three candidates willing to serve on the Board of Trustees, as well as members for the Nominating Committee. As with the Board and Nominating Committee, this year we also have to form the search committee for our settled minister. All of these are places where we need representation from across the church. If church leadership is speaking to you, please consider putting your name forward.
The Board of Trustees is actively engaged in reviewing church policies and procedures, with an end goal of documents that are transparent, informative and facilitative. In February, we review the entire church policy manual, having already reviewed membership policy and the personnel policy.
With so much going on, let me leave you with the closing words from our last Board meeting, from the great Persian poet, Jelaluddin Rumi (13th century):
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.
As we navigate our transitions, may we stay alive to being in right relationship, and to focusing on our common humanity, not our differences. May we be the fuel that keeps alive the flame of our shared heritage. Together, let us continue to do our best work in service to each other.
In peace and standing on the side of love,