Ministerial search: What, When and Who?

In January, Brian announced that he will be retiring in January of 2020. That has sparked a lot of questions. And that’s great! While farewells are hard, they are also opportunities to think about new possibilities. Over the coming year (and beyond), the board will be hosting and encouraging lots of opportunities for input and discussion. One of those opportunities happened at the March 3 service when the community question was: what questions do you have about next steps for UCE? There was also a bonus question: What should the board be asking?

People were invited to write their questions on sticky notes – and they did! There were questions about process and the role of an interim minister. There were also questions about growth in general and attracting younger and/or diverse members specifically, expanding our community outreach and engagement, caring for those in our congregation who are aging, and then a wonderful assortment of “miscellaneous” questions. You can see all the questions under the new “Ministerial Transitions” tab on There is also a printed list on the bulletin board beside the workroom.

I’ll address the first two question areas this month and follow up on the others in future newsletters.

What Will the Process Be to Find a New Minister?

January 26, 2020

Brian’s ministry with UCE will be complete after this Sunday’s service.

February-June 2020 – Lay-led services

The board has been told by the CUC and UUA that finding someone to start an interim ministry mid-year is pretty much impossible. More importantly though, experiencing congregants and guest speakers with different service delivery styles will start us thinking about what characteristics and skills are priorities fo us for new leadership.

Our congregation is fortunate to have many experienced speakers and service leaders, and an abundance of people involved in interesting activities. We already have multiple services each year led by Chorealis and Social Justice, so this will give even more people a turn. One of Brian’s priorities in the coming months
is to re-establish a Church Services Committee so that we are well prepared for this period.

Guest speakers will be paid an honourarium. The board is in the process of Setting the 2019-2020 budget that will include a recommended amount. The budget will come to the congregation for approval at the Annual General Meeting on May 5

During this time, the board, with congregational input, will also complete the application for an interim minister. The application process opens February 1, andelection takes place in April/May for a July/August start.

July-August 2020 – Wonderful summer services, as usual!

August/September 2020 to September 2022 – Interim ministry

The CUC and UUA recommend a two-year interim ministry period for congregations who have had the same minister for five years or more. At 22 years, we definitely fall into that category.

The interim minister will be paid a salary by UCE, and it will be negotiated by the board as part of the interim minister’s contract. The board will factor it into the budget presented to the congregation for approval, just as we do now with Brian’s salary each year.

December 2020 to May 2022 (approximately) – Search process

With the help of the interim minister, we will work together to decide what kind of leadership we want for UCE. It may be a full-time minister, or it may be a part-time minister complemented by other paid staff. Whoever we decide we need to help us carry out our vision, this will be the time for the application and hiring process. I’ll talk more about the specifics of a search committee in a future newsletter.

June-August 2022 – Bid farewell to our interim minister and have more wonderful summer services

August/September 2022 – Take the next steps in our journey

This will be a time to acknowledge the hard work, deep thought and caring that went into our search process and to celebrate a time of new beginnings.

What is the Role of an Interim Minister?*

The interim period following the end of one settled ministry and preceding the beginning of another provides the breathing space during which a congregation can review its goals, assess its programs, consider the quality of its life in common, and “tune up” for a new era. The interim minister is hired by the board of trustees. The one- to two-year period it usually takes for a congregation to grow into and own its identity, independent of both positive and negative feelings about the ministry that has come to an end, can be exciting, even transformative, when devoted to self-examination and institutional renewal. A palate cleanser, one might say.

An interim minister may not become the congregation’s settled minister. Because interim ministers are “pre-fired,” they are well-positioned to shine light on uncomfortable truths and effect difficult changes that can move a congregation toward greater health and readiness for a new ministry.

What Does an Interim Minister Do?

In addition to carrying out customary ministerial duties, an interim minister assists a congregation in:

  • claiming and honoring its past and engaging and honoring its griefs and conflicts
  • recognizing its unique identity and its strengths, needs, and challenges
  • clarifying the appropriate leadership roles of minister(s), church staff, and lay leaders and navigating the shifts in leadership that may accompany times of transition
  • making appropriate use of CUC, UUA, and other outside resources
  • proudly coming into possession of a renewed vision and strong stewardship, prepared for new growth and new professional leadership, ready to embrace the future with anticipation and zest.

If you are interested in more details, check out the interim ministry section on the UUA website at

There is a lot of information here, and a lot to talk about. If you have questions, please talk to any board member. I’ll also be sticking around after services if you’d like to chat.

And I’ll leave you with one last question that was submitted on March 3 that I think will be helpful for each of us to think about throughout this process: What role do I have to play?

Karen Mills, Board President

*Content for this section copied from Interim Ministry: A Primer for Congregational Staff