Update: Despite COVID-19, The Search Continues – March 2020

Despite the Corona Virus your Search Committee is still at work. You may have noticed that your Search Committee has been missing from church lately. We spent 4 weekends hosting ministerial candidates, eating meals with them, conducting lengthy interviews, showing them the church and surrounding area, plus experiencing their preaching at a southern Maine UU church. These weekends were enjoyable and fruitful, and we were blessed to navigate those weekends without challenges from illness or weather.

The committee continues to meet. We are sorting through a significant amount of information, checking references, rank ordering the candidates, and following UUA procedures. We expect to contact the best match candidate in early April.

Once we choose the top candidate and if the candidate chooses us we shall invite the candidate to come to Candidating week with us. We can not announce the name of the candidate until the candidate has negotiated specifics of their contract, authorized a criminal background check and notified their congregation. At this point we can release the name of the candidate.

With the church, state and country suggesting social distancing and small gatherings Candidating Week may need to be conducted differently than we have been planning. The UUA may have creative suggestions as to how to do Candidating Week. Please stay tuned while we figure out how to best introduce the candidate to the congregation.

Update: Neck Deep in the Search Process – February 2020

We search committee members have waded in up to our necks as we enter into the portion of the search devoted to what are called “pre-candidate” visits. During these visits we get to know candidates by socializing over meals, conducting formal two-way interviews, and observing each other in action. It is very much a two-sided discernment with each party faithfully trying to find the answer to the question, “is this a good match?”

Update: Navigating the Search Process – January 2020

We are right in the thick of things now, and, just as the days lengthen, we can see some light ahead of us.  We can’t provide you with any details about candidates without breaking our convenant with each other and with the UUA.  But we are pleased to share with you with a description of our process – it’s about how we operate and why we chose do things that way. You can access the description by viewing the PDF below.

Update: Consensus Decision Making – December 2019

For the past month, the Search Committee has been researching different group decision making methods to help us discuss and choose ministerial candidates. Of the many available methods we have decided, in accordance with UUA guidelines, that the consensus method will be the most effective in calling a best-match minister for our congregation.

Consensus is characterized by all perspectives being heard, explored and deliberated. Consensus is reached when no participants hold strong concerns that are based on the group’s stated purpose. Consensus decisions are preferred when the decision will affect many people, the impact will be deep, and the decision will last a long time. As important as the decision method is, so is the way in which the group discusses candidates. So within the consensus method, the Search Committee will follow a codes of conduct list, use structured discussion methods, and utilize roadblock guidelines as needed. This will ensure all views are thoroughly heard and explored in the challenging task of calling a minister.

Update: Search Circle Summary – December 2019

Update: Big Milestone! & Next Steps – December 2019

We are celebrating a big milestone! December 1st was the deadline for our profile to go live on the UU website so that candidates can read all about us. We’ve completed this important phase of the process, and will be sharing much of that information on our church web page, where our congregants can access it as well. For the next month, we will be working to prepare for our next task, which is evaluating those candidates who indicate that they are interested in being considered by us. We will receive those names on January 1, and will begin the process of choosing who to interview.

Update: Congregational Survey Results – October 2019

Congregants who are interested in looking at the results of the survey which was completed earlier this fall may access the information here. There are descriptions which summarize the responses, as well as much of the raw data.

The Search Committee On the Lookout for a New Settled Minister – October 2019

Update: The Successful Search (Sermon) – September 2019

Update: Congregational Survey – September 2019

One of the first steps for the church is the Congregational Survey, which is essential for a successful search. This is an opportunity for each of us to step forward to share our views and aspirations for our church community. The survey is now ready for your input. This is open for all members and friends, no matter what your age. Multiple people from the same household can each complete the survey, and no identifying information is retained. The results will be tabulated and compiled electronically, then shared with the congregation and with prospective candidates to give them an overall picture of who we are and what we are looking for. It will take about 15-20 minutes to complete, and we are hoping for 100% participation in the next two weeks. You may click on the link above and take the survey at any time between now and Sunday, September 22nd.

Our plan is to use the collected information to guide the Search Circles, the next phase of the process, where we will meet together in small groups to collect even more in-depth information from all of you. Stay tuned for sign-up details.

Update: Timeline of the Search Process – September 2019

Update: Gathering Information & Sharing Information – August 2019

Your search committee has been busy gathering information about First Universalist.

The UUA has established a process in which congregations looking for a settled minister and candidates looking for these positions do complementary tasks. Candidating ministers and search committees create a package of documents by which they present themselves to each other to describe both the church and the prospective minister. (Speed dating for ministers.)

In the near future we will be asking for your input in a number of ways. First will be the Congregational Survey which you will hear about at the Ingathering service on September 8th. More information to follow.

We expect to post updates on the website, in Channels, in the Sunday Morning News, and possibly on the church Facebook page.

If you have questions please ask any of the Search Committee members. We want this process to be as open and as transparent as possible. As with any hiring we need to honor the candidate’s privacy. Otherwise ask away.

We are working on your behalf. Thank you for the trust you have placed in us.

For the Search Committee

Steve Thomas, Chair

The Beginning – August 2019

Your Ministerial Search Committee has begun its work! The committee has had a productive weekend retreat with our consultant Margaret Beckman. We now have a comprehensive overview of the enormity of the task, and a timeline for our work, as well as the roles each of us will play. The congregation will have several very important roles in this process during the fall months. In early September, you will be asked to complete the Congregational Survey, a very important collection of data about who we are and what we think about our ministry. There will also be Cottage meetings and focus groups to gather everyone’s opinions. Please stay tuned for more information, and be ready to be a very active participant. Your voice is needed and very important!