Our Future Minister
In June of 2017 Rev. Dee Graham, our Consulting Minister of Manatee Unitarian Universalists Fellowship and Affiliated Community Minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Sarasota, resigned for health reasons.
Reports from the Transition Team
Ministerial Team: John Isham, Chair, Bill Hayes, Ed Kobee, Doris Sutliff, AJ Wolff, Carol Bartz – ex-officio.
March The Application for a Developmental Minister was submitted to the Transitions Office of the UUA in the first week of January. Receipt was acknowledged shortly thereafter and contained the following information. The application will be posted for review by potential candidates in the first week of February and we may hear from the UUA Office in the last week of February or the first weeks of March with names of candidates who the UUA feels match our stated goals.
A review of the postings at the UUA showed eight UU Fellowship locations posting requests for Developmental ministers. We are the only Florida location making a request. Once an applicant has been identified, we are tasked to rapidly do our evaluation. That will include a thorough background check, sermon listening and electronic interviews. If we agree on a potential candidate we will bring that person here for a weekend visit.
February Special Congregational Meeting Feb. 4, 2018 12:00pm The purpose of this meeting was to vote on releasing reserve funds to support hiring a full-time UUA Developmental Minister. A two-thirds vote of members attending (if quorum is present) had to be positive for us to proceed in our efforts to hire a full-time Developmental Minister. On the agenda:
a. A presentation and review of our choice to seek a Developmental Minister
b. A vote (members only) to set up a ministerial account with funds transferred from our Developmental Reserves and Special Donations to cover the total costs of the new ministry.
The Ministerial Team members present were Carol Bartz, Bill Hayes, Ed Kobee, John Isham (chair), and AJ Wolff. Doris Sutliff was absent due to illness. The meeting was attended by 33 members, sufficient for a valid quorum (23). The meeting was opened with a unison voicing of the Membership Covenant. This was followed by a reading by John Isham relating the history of the efforts of the Ministerial team over the last nine months that culminated in an application to the UUA Transitions Office for a Developmental Minister.
A motion was made by Bill Hayes as follows: To create a ministerial account in the budget to be funded from direct donations and $75,000 from the Development Reserve Fund. The motion was seconded by AJ Wolff. A ten-minute discussion followed which consisted mainly of clarification questions. There were no voiced objections. The motion was called and passed with a vote of 32 approvals, no disapprovals.
January Our application for a Developmental Minister was completed and sent to the UUA in Boston on the 4th of January. We received notification that it had been received and accepted by Rev. Kron in the UUA Ministerial Transitions Office. The application will be made available to potential candidates who will schedule electronic interviews with them via conference calls. We will keep the membership informed of our progress.
December The Ministerial Team held a Town Hall Meeting on November 12th to discuss ministers and the results of conference calls with our UUA representatives. The meeting was well received and a number of interesting and informative questions were discussed. A feeling of support and acceptance was present, in fact an air of urgency was apparent. We told everyone that we have finally received an application for a minister from the UUA. Mirroring five of the questions that appear on the application, a questionnaire was prepared and distributed to those present. We asked each member to respond to each of the questions so that we may include and incorporate the whole congregation’s feelings in preparing our answers for the application. The questionnaire has been emailed to all members and friends who were not present at the meeting. Additional copies are available on the table in the social room. The deadline for questionnaire return has been extended to Sunday, December 3rd. A basket at the back of the sanctuary has been provided for that purpose. Also, the questionnaires may be mailed to the office.
November The Ministerial Team is still evaluating and preparing congregational goals. They will be shared with the congregation for comment and approval in a special Town Hall Meeting to be held Sunday, November 12th immediately following the service. Every member should plan to attend this meeting. This is your time to voice your opinion.
As a result of the meeting, a survey with 5 questions was distributed to each member present and available to those absent to be returned by Nov. 26. The Ministerial Team will report the results in December.
October With the completion and analysis of the congregational survey, the Transition Task Force was able to finish its assigned task of recommending the type of minister best suited to MUUF. Broadly speaking, three general types of full time ministers can be sought with the help of the UUA; Interim, Developmental, and Settled. The team recommended searching for a Developmental Minister whose expertise will be matched to helping MUUF achieve the goals we define. On Tuesday, Sept 18th, the board approved the formation of a Ministerial Team to work with the UUA and the congregation to define the goals most important to the future of MUUF. Those on the Ministerial Team are: John Isham, Ed Kobee, AJ Wolff, Bill Hayes, Doris Sutliff, and Carol Bartz. First a preliminary set of goals will be reviewed and refined with our UUA Southern District Transition Representative, Christine Purcell. These goals will be presented to, discussed with, and modified, if necessary, by the congregation and the Ministerial Team in small group meetings. After a thorough approval by the congregation, the final set of goals will be sent to the UUA along with a congregational record (who we are) for the UUA to match and make recommendations of suitable ministerial candidates for our consideration.
September: The membership survey results were available August 27. Copies are provided in the social room for anyone interested. Included with the results will be a list of the comments received from members. An evaluation of the results will also be included. In coming months, the transition team will schedule a number of small group meetings to discuss and present our plans for finding a full-time minister for the Fellowship. The anticipated result of our discussion group meetings will be a set of goals that we hope to realize in the coming years with all of us working together — the membership, the leadership and the new minister. These goals will be communicated to the transition office of the UUA as a guide for them to select ministerial candidates for our consideration.
August: In order to finding the Right Ministerial Fit for our congregation, the Transition Task Force has mailed a survey to our membership. So if you did not receive one, please get one from John Isham. Please be thoughtful with your answers and return in person to the Fellowship or mail in the envelope provided. The survey responses will be a useful tool for the Transition Task Force members in their quest to choose the type of minister best suited to Manatee UU Fellowship.
July: Our Transitions Task Force has been busy looking into possibilities for hiring a new minister and an informal meeting was held Sunday, June 18 with members of the congregation to discuss different points of view and answer questions. John Isham shared a graph showing attendance records for a little more than the past decade and some interesting trends were apparent. While there used to be a bell curve with the winter months being much higher in attendance, this is no longer happening in the same way. Many ideas were discussed during the meeting and there will need to be more meetings and perhaps a survey before any formal steps can be taken.
June: Our dinner honoring Rev. Dee Graham as she embarks on early retirement gave us an opportunity to express some of our thoughts and feelings as well as for her to do the same. Surrounded by family and friends Dee knows that we care about her and wish her well as she deals with her health issues. The recommendations by the UUA and by other denominations as well for a departing minister to not interact with members after they leave is understandable, but it tugs on our hearts as we say goodbye.