First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia ~ Welcome home!

The Interim Opportunity: Preparing for Our Interim Ministerial Search

As we prepare for Reverend Nate's departure in July 2014, our church is in a time of transition. For some of us, this may be a time of anxiety--change can be nerve-wracking and even scary. Others among us may be exhilarated, ready for the energy and optimism that accompanies starting on a new course with a clean slate. 


Many of us discussed this transition at today's Board info session on the ministerial transition. What follows is a recap of the materials presented, along with some links for further information.


The process of ministerial transition is something for which the UUA provides a lot of resources--we aren't setting out alone or unsupported. In fact, there is actually a recommended course of action for churches in our situation, and after much discussion about our options, the Board has decided to follow that course and seek an interim minister to begin in summer 2014.


An interim minister serves only briefly, for an "interim" between two settled, or permanent, ministers. In fact, according to the rules set by the UUA, an interim minister can serve a particular congregation for only two years. In addition, an interim minister is not eligible to stay on as a congregation's new settled minister; he or she must depart after the interim period has elapsed. Most interim periods last only one or two years--a kind of palate cleanser between the longer, settled ministries. This deliberately short relationship allows the interim minister and the congregation to dig into the hard work of an interim period without worrying about jeopardizing their relationship for the long term. 


It's true--an interim period does require work. The interim period is an opportunity for growth and progress within the congregation, bringing a fresh perspective and new ideas to help us better welcome our next settled minister. The interim also provides support for any healing or conflict resolution that needs to take place after the departure of the previous settled minister, allowing us to enter into our next settled ministry without lingering animosity, mistrust, or disappointment.


To hear more about the purpose and value of an interim ministry, click here for The Interim Opportunity, a short video featuring accredited interim ministers, lay leaders, UUA staff, and settled ministers. 


Our search for an interim minister will be conducted by the Interim Ministerial Search Working Group, or IMSWG. The IMSWG, which was appointed by the Board at their September meeting, will consist of Amy Hillier Fraatz, Craig Freden, Diane Frey, Ed Greenlee, Lucia Kubik, Amy Nothelfer, and Caroline Winschel. The IMSWG will begin their work this fall and report regularly to the Board. 


The IMSWG's first responsibility will be preparing our congregation's application for interim ministry. Because the application for an interim minister is the first thing prospective interims will receive about our community, the IMSWG will work very carefully to ensure that our application accurately reflects the strengths and hopes of our church. Crafting the application will require a period of soul-searching and information-gathering for the IMSWG, as the best application will be the one that reflects the vibrant and diverse viewpoints of our entire community. Do not be surprised if you are contacted, formally or informally, by a member of the IMSWG to discuss some of these issues! At the same time, please respect the group’s process and progress by allowing them to come to you for your opinion.


The application is due to the UUA's Transitions Office in early April 2014, at which time prospective interim ministers will also submit their own applications for interim positions. The Transitions Office will carefully review each church's application and each candidate's strengths and provide the IMSWG with up to fifteen potential matches. By reviewing these potential matches' materials and conducting telephone or video calls, interviews, and reference checks, the IMSWG will determine which candidate to recommend to the Board to hire as our interim minister.


If you are interested in learning more about the process of applying for and hiring an interim ministry, click here for the Transitional Ministry Handbook. This handbook lays out the many steps and options in a ministerial transition; it includes as Appendix A the application that the IMSWG will be submitting this spring.


For even more reading about the opportunities available during an interim period, check out In the Interim: Strategies for Interim Ministers and Congregations, edited by Barbara Child and Keith Kron.  This book walks through each phase of the interim process by sharing the experiences of congregations, ministers, and lay leaders from around the country, and it offers valuable insights on making the most of our interim.


The Board and the IMSWG are very excited about the opportunities that lie before us. We look forward to working with the whole congregation in this transition, and we are eager to see how we grow together along the way. Onward!

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