Minister Search Team Update – May 20, 2017

The Minister Search Team invited Rev. Carlos R. Martinez to candidate at Westside UU Congregation. After a full week of opportunities for the candidate and Westside to get to know each other, the Search Team and the Board of Trustees decided that a congregational vote would not result in a Call and ended the candidating week one day early.  Since then, Rev. Martinez has accepted an interim position with the Community Church in Manhattan, New York City. The Board of Trustees here at Westside UU have voted to contract with Rev. Alex Holt to continue for another two years (one year contract, renewable).

The ability to find a match between Congregation and Minister depends on the pool of searching ministers and congregations.  It is more important to find a good match than any match.  This year we did not find a good match.  We will continue to move forward as a congregation, stronger than ever, having come through this challenging experience in excellent shape.

The Minister Search Team will share its observations and suggestions for the next Search with the Board and UUA-Transitions Office.

The Minister Search Team held its final meeting on May 20, 2017.  The next Board of Trustees will begin a new search process the winter/spring of 2018.

It was an honor to serve the congregation.


2016-2017 Minister Search Team:

Lorelei Amato, Arline Borella, John Britt, Michael Germain-Mothershed, Cecelia Hayes, Lisa Reitzes, Paula vanHaagen


A Special Thank You to the Ministerial Agreement Negotiating Team: 

Ruth Herman, Sue Holly, Lisa Reitzes

Ministerial Search Team



In 2015 our beloved minister of 13 years, Rev. Peg Morgan, retired from the ministry. A seven member ministerial search team, elected by the congregation, has begun the process of searching for a new permanent minister. The ministerial search team is following a structured search process and timeline designed by the Unitarian Universalist Association. It was designed to support congregations to identify their priorities for the future, and to find a minister who is a good match for those priorities. Upon identification of a minister by the team, a vote of the congregation is required to call them to serve Westside. We anticipate having a new permanent minister by the fall of 2017.


Our Search for Our Next Called Minister

January 2017 Minister Search Update

Entering the Busy Silent Period

The Minister Search Team (MST) has completed the first part of our journey. We are about to set out on the second stage, a silent yet intensely busy period.

This summer and fall were a period of outreach and discernment, of compiling information about us, our beliefs, and where we want to go. Now the MST will enter a silent period where we engage in the actual search activities. Because this period is all about confidential personnel information and decisions about ministers in search and those we are considering, the MST will be not share information other than progress updates until we have a candidate to announce in early April.

To recap our journey so far, the past summer was busy with developing ways to share information. We developed a web page, created information including a Chart of our Voyage posted on the Bulletin Board in the Social Hall, and we provided monthly summaries.

In the fall we developed the survey open to members, friends and youth. We held cottage meetings to explore five questions in greater depth. We held the Beyond Categorical Thinking Workshop, which is designed to cause us to think about our buried assumptions, stereotypes, and prejudices about who or what a minister is and appears like.

We also prepared two key documents: the Congregational Record (CR) and our Web Packet. The CR has 13 pages of information about WSUU: narrative and numbers, warts and glory. This is the document UUA makes available to all searching ministers. Some of the questions in the survey and cottage meetings came from this document. We completed this document and sent it to UUA on November 30. Doing so made our congregation part of the national ministerial search - ministers were able to start reading our CR on December 1.

The Web Packet has 30 pages of narrative, photos and lots of links. It provides interested ministers more context and depth. We send this to ministers we are seriously considering and have expressed interested in us. We completed this document in mid-December.

This second stage of our journey, from the beginning of January to the beginning of April, will be our Silent time. All our work will be confidential. ALL our work. Some ministers choose to keep confidential that they are considering other congregations. Our decisions about selections and those not selected need to be confidential. The congregations hosting searching candidates don't know that their guest speakers might be ministers in search. We will not share which congregations are hosting our potential candidates.

On January 2 the UUA gave us access to hear from ministers interested in WSUU. We will review their Ministerial Records and select many for further consideration. We will send them our web packet and they will send us theirs. In early February, we will narrow our search to 3 candidates who we will hear at a 'neutral pulpit' later in February and March. At the end of March or early April, we will select the minister who seems to be the best fit.

The last week of April, April 22-30, our candidate will visit us. They will provide the sermons on April 23 and April 30, and meet with staff, committees, members, youth, and friends, and local UU clergy in the week in between. On the second Sunday, after the service, we will hold a congregational meeting to vote on if want to call them.

Future Communication - Going Silent

We will provide updates on our journey but only in the general sense of our progress. While we welcome feedback and support from our community, it is important to note this is not a participatory process. The MST members were selected by a committee, selected to represent all of you, selected for a mix of strengths and beliefs. Please trust us. Know that this is hard work we take very seriously; we are very committed to it. We did our best to get your input this fall and represent it fully, fairly, accurately, in our documents. It is a touchstone as we move forward.

We are very aware our work is to select the minister for ALL of us. The MST will share as much as we can. Due to the sensitive nature of it, that will be relatively little. You can help us do the best job possible in reaching our goal by respecting that the next phase in our process must be confidential until April. That is why we say we are Going Silent. Thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation.


Minister Search Timeline

The search team has many tasks to complete before next fall. We will regularly share our progress with the congregation through our e-news publications, postings to our bulletin board in the social hall, one on one conversations, and occasional updates from the pulpit.

Following are some of the major tasks of the Ministerial Search Process:

Aug/Sept 2016

Negotiating Team

The WSUU Board of Trustees appoints a separate negotiating team to recommend a ministerial compensation package and draft ministerial agreement.

Sept/Oct 2016

Hearing Your Voices

Online (& print) congregational survey: open September 14th  thru September 28th

Congregational cottage meetings in the social hall: October 15th and October 23rd

The Ministerial Search Team will conduct a congregation-wide survey, facilitate focus groups, cottage meetings and interviews. We will analyze and summarize the information to create a picture of who we are and make it accessible for prospective ministerial candidates. This will also be used to clarify the congregation's hopes and expectations for its future and the specific attributes that are most important for our next settled minister. This is a critical opportunity for you to make your voice heard. We hope and expect everyone to participate!

Oct/Nov 2016

Beyond Categorical Thinking

3 hour congregational workshop in the social hall: November 5th

Sunday service with themes drawn from the workshop: November 6th

This part-day workshop, developed by the UUA, is held for all congregations that are conducting a ministerial search process. The focus is on helping us to identify and go "beyond" stereotypes and prejudicial attitudes that may inhibit a full exploration of the possibilities of our next settled minister. It will be tailored to our needs and will be facilitated by UUA staff. Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend. UUA facilitators will provide a worship service related to the issues covered in the workshop.

Nov/Dec. 2016

Congregational Record

The team will assemble a summary of the results of our surveys, cottage meetings and interviews, budget and financial information, membership history, governance structure, and other key facts about our congregation into a succinct document that will be made available to prospective ministerial candidates. This will be the way that prospective candidate ministers will begin to learn about WSUU.

Jan/March 2017

Application Process

The team identifies interested and available ministers and exchanges information packets with ministers who are interested. The team reviews the information packets of prospective applicants and conducts interviews with those whose profile most closely matches what is desired by the congregation. The team will check references on selected applicants.

Pre-Candidating Interviews

The team invites a limited number of prospective candidates to an intensive pre-candidating interview process. The team meets with the candidates and explores issues in greater depth to determine the likelihood of a good fit. Team members observe each candidate deliver a sermon at a congregation in the area.

April/May 2017

Candidating Week

The team selects the single candidate it believes is the best fit for WSUU, concludes criminal background checks and any further reference checks, confirms candidate's willingness to accept compensation package and to sign the ministerial agreement. The team brings the candidate to WSUU for a week. The candidate leads a service on one Sunday, meets with congregants throughout the week, and then leads another service the following Sunday.

May 2017

Call Our New Minister!

At the end of the Candidating Week, the congregation votes on whether to call the candidate to become our next settled minister!

Have more questions? Check your recent e-news for updates or the bulletin board in the social hall.