Having a fresh slate for the New Year is an opportunity to make the best of new beginnings. Of course, we’re all facing much of the same stuff we carry over from the past, but it helps to have a collective reminder that we actually can “turn over a new leaf,” if we choose to do so.
I am taking a combination of personal and professional leave this month as I prepare for a major change in the New Year. I’m preparing to put my house on the market, and I’m in the midst of an elaborate process of looking into congregations who are in search for a new minister. Through a clearinghouse system that is provided by the Unitarian Universalist Association online, a listing of congregations in search is posted and ministers indicate their interest. The search committees then have access to a written profile about each minister. From there, ministers and search committees exchange detailed packets and go through an extensive interviewing process. By May, most of the congregations and ministers will have made their mutual selections.
Starting this year, the UUA has added a new feature that will be of great interest to our members here. The clearinghouse will now include listings of congregations seeking interim and contract ministers. A very similar (but not quite as extensive) process is used for matching congregations and ministers in these short-term arrangements.
A common misconception is that interim and contract ministers are “assigned” by someone at the UUA to congregations. Actually, congregation leaders and ministers mutually choose each other under our Unitarian Universalist form of governance through congregational polity. The leaders who interact with potential ministers know they are being charged to represent the congregation as a whole, and so it is vital that all members be engaged in this upcoming time of congregational transition at UUCP. The cycle of selecting interim and contract ministers extends beyond May into the summer, partly because the arrangements are designed to be short-term (with an option for renewal, in the case of contracts).
These elaborate processes have been modified over time to facilitate the best outcomes for everyone involved, congregations and ministers alike. And like all big decisions we make that involve relationships, nothing is ever guaranteed to work. It takes time, commitment, and good will on everyone’s part for positive outcomes to emerge.
Let’s make the best of our new beginnings,