Assistant Minister Search Update

The search for an assistant minister to start in August is well underway! Here are the highlights of what we shared in our update on Sunday, as well as a list of the questions we got (along with their answers).  If you are wondering about anything not answered here, or have any feedback about this position or the process, we welcome your dialogue!

Assistant Minister Selection Committee: Rev. Gretchen Haley (gretchen@foothillsuu.org), Scott Denning (Scott.denning@colostate.edu), Bonnie Inscho (bonnieinscho@aol.com), Tim Pearson (Timp1600@comcast.net) and Sara Edwards (sara.edwards.rocks@gmail.com).

Summary of our process so far…..

  • January 3rd – Congregational Input Gathered and Conversation on the Process (Completed) – Here is the summary of those meetings. 
  • Week of January 4th – Job Description Finalized (based on feedback from congregation, lay leader input, staff conversation and input from the Board of Trustees) and Posted to our website and to the UUA transitions website  (Completed – click here to see it) 
  • January 18th – Selection Committee (3-4 People) Appointed by the Board (Completed) – Scott Denning, Tim Pearson, Bonnie Inscho, and Sara Edwards will serve as the Assistant Minister Search Committee
  • January 31st – Application Deadline  – we received a total of 9 applicants from across the country, with equal representation of both men and women, all early career ministers, all strong applicants that we were enthusiastic to receive applications from
  •  Throughout January – Get-to-know-you conversations with Gretchen (Completed)  all 9 applicants had an early conversation with Gretchen after their initial expression of interest
  •  Week of January  25th – Selection Committee and Gretchen review applications in first meeting (Completed)  – through this process, narrowed down to 7 candidates
  • Week of January 30th –  First Interviews Conducted (with Gretchen) (Completed) – these notes were shared with the search committee and from these interviews, we narrowed the field to 5 candidates
  • Week of February 7th – Meeting with Search Committee to determine who they will interview and questions they will use (Completed) – The Committee decided to proceed with 2 Interviews, based on the strength of the top 2 candidates.  All other candidates have been notified.
  • February 14th – Congregational update (Completed after both services – questions from these services are below.) 
  • Week of February 15th – Second Interviews with Committee (Scheduled) 
  • February 22nd – Determine plan for in-person interviews and potential for pre-candidating
  • Throughout March – Check References and UUA Files and Complete On-Site Interviews
  • No later than April 1st – Reach final decision on candidate
  • No later than April 7th  Make Offer
  • April 10th – If we have an accepted offer, announce our new assistant minister to congregation
  • Please note: If no match is found in this round, we will re-post and seek additional applications, knowing that the Ministerial Fellowship Committee sees new candidates in early April, so some will be looking for a job in April, and generally we would follow the same process as above, just completed in the months of April and May.  

 

Questions from the February 14th Congregational Update: 

Question:  Why is it all happening so fast?

Answer:  Each year, UU ministers who are thinking about a new ministry, apply for positions in January of each year.  If we didn’t get on track with this application process/timeline, we miss that potential applicant pool.  This year, about 90 ministers were all looking for their new ministry as of January 1 (to start in church year 16-17).

Question: What interview questions are being asked of the candidates?

Answer:

  • Here are the questions Gretchen asked each of the candidates:
    • What is the best team you have worked with and why it was the best? What did you accomplish together? What was your role on that team?
    • What do you hope for in a supervisor?  How do you see our relationship working?
    • What is your process for getting to know a congregation?  How do you keep track of people’s stories, especially in the bigger system? What experience from your past had you keeping track of multiple people’s stories and helping them feel known?
    • Tell me about 2 or 3 lay leaders that you identified and developed.  What was the circumstance, the outcome, and how is it going now? What kind of ongoing training have you offered? Tell me about a recruit that didn’t go the way you expected – that was disappointing or frustrating.  How do you know someone might be a good fit for a role in the church, and that they are ready – and how do you cultivate their skills and capacity?
    • How would you describe what we are up to when say we are doing “pastoral care”? What does it entail? How is it different than therapy or simply listening? Tell me about a meaningful experience you have had with pastoral care.  How do you fit pastoral care within your other priorities? How do you decide how to prioritize your time related to pastoral care? Finally, tell me about how you have navigated boundaries as it relates to pastoral care.
    • Tell me about your experience with small groups.  What models have you encountered.  How have you trained facilitators.  What qualities do you look for? How do you keep them fresh? What role should small groups play in congregational life.  How have you seen them work in your experience?
    • Who is the theologian or writer who you have to stop yourself from referencing every sermon.  What is it about their work that you respond to?
  • Here are the questions that the Selection Committee plans on asking the applicants:
    • Scenario question related to pastoral care
    • Scenario question related to small groups
    • Our church has rapidly grown from small family oriented congregation to 800 adults/300 kids….there is now a mix of those who have been here a long time – great sense of tradition with smaller church….but also those who are brand new and excited about all the new and change – After 20 years of 1 minister, you will be the second new minister in 2 years – how will you work with this mix of continuity and novelty?
    • How will you relate with different theological views – how do you engage with those who identify as humanists/atheists and who might struggle with “religion”?
    • How would you bring your passion for multi-culturalism into our congregation?
    • Given that you’re relatively new to ministry, how do you go about gaining a sense of pastoral authority as you work with congregants? How do you connect with and serve people who are in different ages and stages than you are? Have you encountered prejudice in terms of your age or experience? How have you dealt with that?
    • How do you minister to the growing senior population AND the growing millenial population?
    • Where do you see yourself in your ministry in 5 years, 10 years….?
    • What would you say is your biggest challenge in ministry?
    • How do you see yourself working with the staff?
    • What systems or tools or structures would you use to manage and track your work – pastoral care, small groups, membership, etc.?
    • What do you see as the way you complement Gretchen? What do you see as your challenges?

Question: How flexible will the role of the new A.M. be as far as being able to follow his/her own call and passion?

Answer: It is hoped that the new A.M. will bring in new ideas and creativity to help build our future, while also fitting with our mission and vision. There are 3 key areas where we will want the new A.M. to take a strong role: Pastoral Care, Small Groups, and Faith Formation (early connections, membership integration, and UU identity, as well as leadership development).  Beyond that, we hope that we can encourage a full ministry partner who can collaboratively participating in determining where we will go next, and building the systems to get there.  A lot will be determined by the amount of time that these three focus areas will take – they are the priority.

Question: Is the search committee looking for someone who will have “regional” (geographic) comfort?

Answer: Yes. There have been applicants from across the country, with the exceptions of the SE and NW. The applicants’ fit with our regional culture has been a big part of the search committee’s discussion and discernment.

Question: Can the new A.M. help with long range planning?

Answer: Yes, we are looking for a team member who will contribute new ideas, perspectives, and suggestions for the future development of Foothills.

Question: Tell us more about the role of the A.M. with small groups and pastoral care.

Answer: We are seeking someone with experience in these areas, but who also expresses a passion for these important aspects of church life. Gretchen will continue doing pastoral care as well. Most of the applicants are strong in both these areas and will bring innovation.

Question: Could the position of the A.M., which is short term, be continued beyond 2-3 years?

Answer: This new position is by hire, not call. Per the Bylaws, Foothills will contract for one year, which hopefully will be renewed for a second year, if it is a good fit. No promises are made beyond that, but it is possible that the A.M. could stay longer. However, we will wait until into the second year before even beginning such discussion, because we are still in flux after having just called our Senior Minister. We first need to all see how Gretchen’s ministry unfolds and see how it feels to have two ministers.

Question: What is the process for making the decision of to whom to make the offer?

Answer: Because of the relative short term of this position, and that it is a position that reports to Gretchen, the ultimate decision is Gretchen’s, but with strong input and consultation with the A.M. Search Committee. It is not by vote of the committee or the congregation.

Question: What are some of the general characteristics of the candidates?

Answer: The 7 candidates come from across the country, almost equally balanced by gender. Ages range from mid 20s to early 50s and all are at relatively early stages (new to 7 years of ministry) in their ministerial careers.

Question: What qualities are you looking for in the candidates?

Answer:

  • A good team member/collaborator who can get the work done
  • Experience and passion for pastoral care and small group leadership
  • Having a shared vision with Gretchen and the congregation
  • Someone who works well in relationship with trust
  • Good preaching and writing skills
  • Works well with lay leaders
  • Has theological and personal depth
  • Comfortable with technology
  • Great communicator (listener and sharer of info)
  • Has good self-care and time management skills, and good boundaries

Question: Will there be 3 services after the new A.M. starts?

Answer: This has been talked about for awhile and next year we will first survey the congregation about the need for this and what it should look like. We will hope that we can expand our mid-week worship (currently the 10 times per year vespers services) to at least twice a month starting in the fall. Some of this depends on expanding our lay leader capacity, and we are working on that now.

Question: What is the evaluation process for deciding whether or not to renew the A.M. contract?

Answer: In our covenantal faith, the best way to provide feedback is on an ongoing basis -that’s true for this position, and for all of us.  So our hope is that we begin to know about fit relatively early on, and then through ongoing dialogue we are able to discern throughout the year if the contract can be renewed.  With that said, we are currently working to re-convene the Committee on Ministry (COM).  This team will partner with Gretchen to gather and provide feedback to the assistant minister in February of 2017, in a similar to fashion to the feedback and evaluation process that we provided Gretchen at the end of her first year with us.  In consultation and collaboration with the COM and the Board, Gretchen will determine the contract’s renewal.  Beyond this process for our hired minister, we are also working with the Committee on Ministry to establish best practices for feedback about all of our shared ministries and their impact in our congregation and beyond, including a regular evaluation and feedback process for our called ministers.  More on this in the coming months.

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Assistant Minister Update

The search for a new Assistant Minister is under way! Here is the timeline for the process as shared in Sunday January 3rd’s forums:

  • Congregational Input / Conversation – Sunday January 3rd
  • Job Description Finalized and Posted – Week of January 4th 
  • Selection Committee (3 People) Appointed by the Board – Week of January 25th at latest
  • Application Deadline January 31st
  • Review Applications and Schedule First Interviews (with Gretchen) – Week of February 1st 
  • Phone Interviews with Gretchen – Week of February 8th 
  • Congregational update – 2nd Sunday in February
  • Second Interviews with Committee – Week of February 15th and February 22nd
  • Narrowed down to 2 Candidates and Inform Candidates – Week of March 7th
  • Check References, Follow Up Interviews – Week of March 14th
  • Reach decisions – Week of March 28th
  • Make Offer – Week of April 7th
  • If no match is found in this round, we will re-post and seek additional applications, knowing that the Ministerial Fellowship Committee sees new candidates in early April, so some will be looking for a job in April, and generally we would follow the same time frame but just in the month of April/May instead of February/March.

Additionally, we shared the following information:

  • Board Representative: Until there is an official Selection Committee Appointed, Scott Denning, Treasurer Elect is serving as the Board Liasion for this process.  You can reach Scott at scott.denning@colostate.edu.
  • Contract Terms:  Full time position, paid at UUA Fair Compensation rates for Geo Index 3, >550 Members, 1 year contract with intent of a two year hire; moving expenses will be offered; contract – hired, not called
  • Reports to: Senior Minister.
  • General portfolio to include: Pastoral Care, Membership, Adult Faith Formation, and Small Groups with critical role in Worship and as a part of the overall team.

Those in attendance had a number of good questions and input into the process, including:

Q: Who will apply, what are their reasons for applying?   A: Some apply for Asst Minister to gain “stepping stone” experience toward a career as a Senior Minister, others see the job as an end in itself.  Some want to stay for the short term, some will hope it renews indefinitely.

Q: How will you evaluate preaching? Will there be a use of a neutral pulpit?  A: As of now that is not clear.  We will see what the applicant pool is and then make decisions about the feasibility of setting up neutral pulpits or other ways of evaluating preaching.  Either way, we will prioritize some level of in-person contact during the process.

Q: What are the budget implications for this search? A: There was no budget set for this search, so we will have to work particularly frugally.

Q: How many applicants might be in the initial pool?  A: Very hard to tell up front.  Across the country, I’d imagine there are as many as 8-10 who would be considering applying.

Q: Will Gretchen take a sabbatical before she begins as Senior Minister as you had originally planned? A: No, just several 1-2 week breaks over the winter and spring.

Q: What are the financial implications of hiring an Assistant Minister? A: We’re in good shape. We currently support a full time Senior and Associate Minister, and we anticipate being able to support a Senior and Assistant Minister while paying the new person at UUA guidelines.

Q: Will all applicants be educated as UU ministers? What is the credentialing process? Will they be ordained? A: We will accept any applicants who have received preliminary fellowship.  (This is the process wherein the UUA Ministerial Fellowship Committee certifies all qualified applicants. UU ministers are ordained by a congregation. So, it may be that our candidate is fellowshipped but not yet ordained, in which case we may be able to do the ordaining.  Exciting opportunity!)

Q: Please compare and contrast this plan with when Gretchen was hired.  A: Gretchen was hired only ¾ time vs new hire will be full-time. Gretchen was hired on a 1-year contract but during the recruiting process there was an understanding that both sides hoped for a longer-term placement. The new contract will be for one year, renewable for a second year.  We may evaluate in the second year to extend the contract beyond that.

Finally, a number of people shared about their hopes for the assistant minister, and specifically what they meant when they talk about a desire for a “complement” to Gretchen.  Here are some of those notes:

 

  • Complementary as in alignment, not in the sense of opposite (especially not oppositional, which is a recipe for a divided congregation!)
  • Complementary should not denote deficiencies or insufficiency in one of the ministers.  Instead we might think of it as “companionable” or “collaborative”
  • Complementary not in the mathematical sense, but more in the culinary sense!
  • We need somebody who understands and shares Gretchen’s vision and matches her energy
  • We need someone who has a passion for a portfolio that complements Gretchen’s passions, is hard-working, and able to run programs effectively
  • We need someone who shares our values but brings new perspectives
  • We need someone who can be in sync with Gretchen, Eleanor, and Ryan, but also bring something new to the team
  • Perhaps someone with a scientific background to complement Gretchen’s background in arts and business. Perhaps somebody in a second career.
  • Gretchen’s “central call” is behind the pulpit, in stewardship, and executive leadership. We need to complement her with somebody who is truly called to pastoral care.
  • Need somebody with experience in and passion for great communication
  • Somebody who can share Gretchen’s effectiveness with communications technology. We need somebody adept and enthusiastic in this area.
  • Q: How will our ongoing transitions in governance, mission, policies, budget, facilities, etc. affect the new hire? A: As we transition, we need to work with somebody who embraces discovery, the creative process, and entrepreneurial engagement!
  • We need someone who will help us claim the story of who we already are, the impact of our ministries, and build on this success.

I took so much from these conversations, and most of all appreciated the spirit and energy of the conversation – it was filled with optimism, trust, and joy! This is a good sign for this process, and the best gift we can offer any potential applicant!

If you have questions not answered here, or would like to add your thoughts to the process, please send me an email – gretchen@foothillsuu.org.  I’m always happy to talk, and sincerely appreciate your feedback, questions and partnership in this process – and look forward to its next steps.

 

 

May Grace Be With You! from Jennifer Powell, President, Board of Trustees

I am writing to you on behalf of the Board of Trustees, as we are in the middle of Candidating Week, a first in almost 25 years for Foothills, and the third time in the past 40 years! It is an exciting time.

Whether you were present this past Sunday or not, I hope you are able to attend as many of the other events scheduled for Candidating week today through Sunday, to see and hear Rev. Gretchen Haley in the role of senior minister. We started the week hearing her moving and powerful sermon on Sunday followed by a great luncheon. We are looking forward to her next sermon on Sunday, 11/15 before the special congregational meeting held at 10:30am where we will vote on whether to call her as senior minister.  You can find all the events here.

The Board has observed as well as participated alongside you through this entire process that began early last March when we called the entire congregation to learn who we most trusted within our community to be on the Ministerial Search Committee. This team our congregation created from that effort has been working daily since then for us.  I for one couldn’t have been more comforted by the selection, knowing the integrity each individual would bring, as well as their range of representing so many of us at Foothills.

Since last March, The Ministerial Search Committee has put in countless hours of incredible, often tedious work, meeting with us, listening to us, learning who we are as a congregation, and then representing us in the search for our new senior minister. The Board has been inspired by their concentration and care throughout the process. They have led us all through this process to this point with a profound amount of grace. Ed, Sue, Lyndy, Steve, Judy, and Julie –  on behalf of the Board, and as a member of Foothills, I thank each of you for this incredible contribution and service you have given to Foothills.

Due to our personal experiences as congregation members as well as church leaders, the data collected and analyzed from all of us, the Board and I received the Ministerial Search Committee’s unanimous recommendation of Rev. Gretchen Haley as the best candidate for our new Senior Minister with elation. Many of us have worked closely with her over the past three years she has been at Foothills, and it has been an honor and an inspiration to see and be a part of her ministry at work.

The last thing I wish say to you all is a big thank you. We have all been through a lot these past 18 months of interim. Thank you for your passionate voices, concerns, emails, letters, phone calls, voicemails, meetings, lunches, acknowledgments, the Sunday morning smiles and hugs, and even the shrugs. Thank you for your grace moving through this time. It hasn’t been easy, and it hasn’t always felt great. The grace that has been present throughout, is what makes us who we are here at Foothills. We are an incredible community of diversity where love is the spirit of this church and service is its law.

I look forward to being with hopefully as many of you as possible this week and Sunday as we come together to be inspired and to vote.

With love, service and grace,

Jennifer Powell

U + U = We, Guest Post from Board President Jenn Powell

This past Saturday the Board of Trustees and lay leadership met with the Rev. Nancy Bowen, our Lead Interim Minister Rev. Howell Lind and Associate Minister Rev. Gretchen Haley for a start up meeting as we begin our second year of the interim period. During the morning we worked together to create our Ministerial / Lay Leadership Partnership. We looked at where we have been, what was accomplished, and what still needed work. We spoke of the following qualities as what we thought were necessary to have a successful year together:

  • Collaboration
  • Mutual trust & respect
  • Open & direct communication
  • Transparency
  • Humor, comfort, ease & effectiveness, willingness
  • Connection
  • Good Intention
  • Maturity
  • Strategy
  • Balancing the need to be patient & urgent in our work

We talked about the need for us to work with our mission, and have that be the foundation for the church’s work. We talked about being leaders in a time of change as well as leading a change. We broke up into groups to look at different ways we can do our work.

We looked at working together, how we could improve our communication and what practices would help us with each other and the congregation. We looked at what it takes to work well in covenant, as well as working inside of our mission.

Midday we enjoyed a delicious lunch welcoming the members of the Greeley board. In the afternoon, the two boards met together with our ministers and Rev. Nancy Bowen to look at how we would work in partnership.

We were co-creating what would be faithful and helpful in Northern Colorado. We spoke of sharing generosity between the two congregations, faithful expression of our UU values, supporting all kinds of goodness. Knowing that this year is an experiment, we reminded ourselves of what is written in our covenant of Partnership. We ended our day filled with peace, new ideas, collaboration, and yes, a good dose of excitement.

imageThe Boards of Foothills and the UU Church of Greeley

U + U = WE

Read more about our partnership with Greeley