February 16, 2022 – The Settled Minister Search Committee (SMSC) is meeting with three pre-candidates during the months of February and March. Each candidate is visiting Athens and engaging in in-depth discussions with the Search Committee about our Fellowship and our ministry. Search committee members are seeking to discern which candidate best meets the needs that were identified in our congregational surveys and discussions. As you may recall, these needs range from stimulating preaching, meaningful pastoral care, continuing social action, re-energizing the RE program, reaching out to younger adults, and continuing our path for racial and social justice. We are all looking forward to these in-person discussions, as well as the opportunity to see these ministers preaching at a guest pulpit. Likewise, our pre-candidates want to meet us, see our Fellowship building and grounds, and learn more about life in Athens. At the end of this process, the Search Committee will come to an agreement about which candidates are viable options for UUFA, and who is our first choice. Remember that the timing and details of these visits remain confidential for the protection of the candidates.
By March 28th the Search Committee will send our prioritized list of candidates to the UUA Transitions office. The three pre-candidates will also send their prioritized selections for congregations. Then comes the process of matching our desires with the desires of our ministerial candidates. If all goes as planned, we will make our preliminary offer to the successful candidate by March 31st. Once accepted, the candidate and the negotiating team will meet to finalize the contract. The negotiating team consists of Barbara Schell, SMSC Chair; Robert Teskey, Board of Trustees representative; and Cynthia Call representing the congregation. Criminal and sex offender background checks of the candidate are also completed during this time as required of all UUFA employees.
The Search Committee will announce to the congregation that we have a candidate as soon as the candidate accepts the preliminary offer. The name of the candidate will not be released until there is complete agreement on the contract, the candidate has agreed to and released their signed agreement for a background check, and the candidate has informed their current congregation (if they have one) of their candidacy.
Then comes the excitement of planning for the Candidating Week which is likely to be at the end of April or early May when the candidate will preach for two consecutive Sundays and meet with much of the congregation between those two Sundays. A congregational vote will be taken on the second Sunday. Most ministers will want to see no less than 90% agreement as a successful call to ministry. We will share the details of Candidating Week in our next issue!
Barb Schell, Chair