Your Voice is Being Heard

It has been a busy few months for the Settled Minister Search Committee and the Contract Negotiations Committee and the Congregation.  Here is what we have been up to:

Beyond Categorical Thinking Workshop, coordinated by Julie Sapp and conducted by Rev. Keith Kron, Director of Transitions at UUA, was held on Sept 25th with over 50 members attending.  A surprise to many of us were the actual stories of things that had been said or done to ministers during their search process.  Sadly, these showed that perhaps we are not as enlightened as we like to think we are, and that we need to be on guard against biases in all forms!  For those who did not attend, you can find copies of these true stories on the UUFA website.  Rev. Keith Kron met with the search committee after, and conducted the Sunday service the following day.

“Have a Voice in the Choice” Congregational Survey was launched in September with 113 respondents.  This survey, which was coordinated by John Olive and gathered perspectives of members about what they hope to see in the new settled minister, and the data from it will be an important guide for the search committee.  The results are being analyzed now and will be shared with the congregation in a report as well as through informational focus groups to be held in late October, and early November.

UUFA Mountain Retreat: What’s up with the Minister Search?  An open discussion about the ministry search led by Barbara Schell and John Olive occurred at the UUFA Mountain Retreat on the first weekend in October with approximately 20 attending.

Meet with Staff A meeting with the Music Director and the Congregational Administrator was held October 22nd to gain their perspectives about the ministerial search and important considerations for the committee when interviewing candidates.

Meet with Parents A meeting with parents at UUFA was held Wed., Oct 6 at 6:00 pm.  Coordinated by Melanie Hennings to occur prior to the Parents Small Group Ministry, this meeting gained further insight to the needs of parents and families as we search for the new minister.

Settled Minister Contract The contract negotiation committee consisting of Barbara Schell, Robert Teskey and Cynthia Call has completed its review of the standard UUA contract for ministers, and recommended modifications relevant to UUFA, such as reference to the Ministerial Council, and specific Bylaws provisions.  These recommended modifications were discussed and approved by the Board of Trustees (BOT) at their October 12th meeting, and the whole contract is scheduled for approval at the BOT November meeting.  This contract draft is part of the materials provided to prospective applicants and serves as the template for the final negotiated contract when the settled minister is selected.

Congregational Record is an extensive web-based form which is now the focus of the SMSC efforts, as we fill in a whole range of information about our congregation and our community.  Along with a folder with many congregational documents, this record is the main source of information about UUA that ministerial applicants read and use to decide if they are interested in us. Lee Reed has been gathering extensive information about Athens as a community, while other members complete information about different aspects of our Fellowship.

Submitted 10/18/2021 by Barbara Schell

Previous Updates

The Committee

At the 2021 Annual Meeting, the following were elected to serve on the Settled Minister Search Committee. Click below to learn more about the committee members.

Hello! My name is Tracy Brown. I came to UUFA by invitation from Ange Khan a few years ago. Ange and I were having an amazing time in theatre together.  On that visit to UUFA, the welcoming feeling, warmth and openness I felt as a visitor to UUFA felt very nice.  There was no pushing of an agenda or idea.  I like that. We all are in this world. We all come with our own set of trials, tribulations and triumphs.  What is important to me is to spend and invest time and energy into people and spaces that have an interest in being love, finding and maintaining ways of expressing love, and continually searching for meaning and truths within.  To me that is where all exists, in the continual self-examination and exploration.  The peeling back of those layers of life and living, becoming more of and more at one with self. That process enriches our lives and subsequently the lives of others. To me there is no greater work than that of within. I feel that journey being present at UUFA. I feel the openness of those around. Whether it’s during African drumming with Amber, singing with the choir, working along with others as worship assistant during our programming, or coming together during outside drive throughs, that quest, that search for being, doing and expressing the best possible self is always as present. At the same time the space to feel vulnerable and supported in times of need is present at UUFA as well. I am very thankful to Ange for that invitation to visit UUFA.  I am grateful to be a part of this amazing community.

I am the Almost Home Coordinator at Athens Area Homeless Shelter. I am a Yoga instructor, a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, poet, singer, actress and stunt woman. One of my favorite things to do is aerial arts at Canopy Studio.

Todd Dinkelman joined UUFA in 2002.  Since then, he has served in numerous different roles, including Board of Trustees, member; Policies Handbook Revision Committee, member; Small Group Ministry, participant, co-facilitator, and co-director; EOV, Admin & Meeting Space and Sanctuary subcommittees member, and Capital Campaign visiting steward; Religious Education, classroom teacher; Greeter; Ministerial Relations Committee; Committee on Shared Ministry, member; Finance Committee, member; and, Endowment Committee (ad hoc), chair.

Given a career in higher education, he is developing and practices a skill set including writing, teaching, speaking in front of others, qualitative research, deliberation, analysis,

Todd Dinkelman

and program evaluation.  He also is fairly proficient with technology.

I am a longtime member of UUFA and have had many roles in our congregational life, starting with Choir and the Drum Circle, Small Group Ministry, and the Goddess Group. Various teams and committees I have served on include RE, WACT, Social Justice, Nominating, Leadership Development, and the Stewardship Campaign. Other leadership positions include my having led youth and adult religious exploration classes, and serving as a Lay Minister and as Secretary of the Board. Most recently, I have been a member of the Bylaws Task Force.

I would bring interest in the health of our congregation and denominational relations within Unitarian Universalism as a whole. My career and hobbies have helped me develop useful research and editing skills. I have a good working understanding of the Governance and Ministry model, and believe strongly in teamwork and collaboration.

John Olive I am a retired Professor Emeritus of Mathematics Education from the University of Georgia. My wife, Debra Brenner and I first started coming to UUFA in 1987. We were looking for a spiritual home where both a person raised Jewish and one raised in the Church of England would be welcomed and find spiritual renewal. We became pledging members in 1991, 30 years ago! UUFA was then on Prince Avenue, in an old Baptist church. Our two young children were enrolled in RE during the first year of our attendance and remained in RE until they were in high school. Both participated in the OWL classes, which were invaluable in helping them come to understand their own sexuality. Deb and I both volunteered as RE teachers during those early years.

In 1995 we made financial commitments for the move to and building of our current building because we found, not only a spiritual home that both challenged our own religious backgrounds and helped us form our own beliefs, but also a supportive social community that has become our primary social group in Athens, That commitment to UUFA has continued and five years ago you confirmed me as your Building Project Treasurer for the expansion of our current building. During the previous 20 years I have also served as President of the UUFA, Treasurer and member of the Board of Trustees. I have been a member of the choir since 1987! I have also been involved with the activities of the Social Action Committee, helping those in need in the greater Athens Community. I am currently one of the UUFA representatives to the Interfaith Sanctuary Coalition (ISC) of Athens and serve on the ISC Fondo Solidario Review Committee, reviewing applications for rent and utility assistance through the Fondo. I am also the Treasurer for the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement (AADM) a Justice Partner with UUFA. During this year of the Pandemic I have also coordinated the AADM Free COVID-19 Tutoring Program to assist students (via Zoom) who have not been able to attend school in person because of the building closures.

If elected to the Ministerial Search Committee, I will be looking for a minister who will not only support our current mission to be a beacon of liberal religion in our region, but will also challenge us to expand our vision and bring in more diverse members and friends so that we may also reflect the diversity of the greater Athens Community and thus better serve that community.

John Olive

During most of my 17 years at UUFA, I have sung in the choir with spouse Clela. Except for one stint on the Personnel Committee and three homilies at Sunday services, however,  I have not served in the congregational administration of the Fellowship, perhaps because I was burned out after so much committee and leadership work at UGA and with my professional academic organization before retirement.

Lee Reed

Now, however, I would like to give back to the UUFA community that has meant so much. In considering me for the Ministerial Search Committee, you should know something about why I feel qualified to serve.

I taught full time at UGA for 38 years, retiring in 2010 as the Scherer Chair in Public Affairs.  I was also Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor of Legal Studies. During my career, I was involved in selecting dozens of staff and faculty for positions at UGA, as well as evaluating numerous candidates for various career awards. My primary leadership roles during my career were as the international president of the Academy of Legal Studies in Business and, earlier, as editor-in-chief of the American Business Law Journal.

As a member of the MSC, I will focus on helping select a settled minister who understands just how dynamic and varied a congregation we have, who grasps our desire to involve our youth even more in the life of the Fellowship, and who appreciates the importance of social action and concern for diversity in the history of our congregation.  Exercising good interpersonal skills and  leading spiritual development will also be important ministerial skill sets in my evaluation.  Considering my experience in “selling” prospective UGA faculty on Athens, I believe I can be especially valuable in helping convince our prospective settled minister of the value of UUFA and Athens as a new home.

Julie Sapp Julie Vesper Sapp joined UUFA in the late 1980s and returned to the Fellowship with her family in 2000, after a 10 year hiatus. She loves this community and the Fellowship is the village in which she raised her child. She regularly attends Sunday Services, often attends Forum, previously attended Goddess Group, and finds participation in SAC events and SGM especially meaningful. In a post-pandemic future, she hopes to join a pilgrimage to Transylvania.

As a self-described “task-oriented, partially-recovering compulsive volunteer”, she has gained knowledge, familiarity and experience across many programs, activities and ministries with the UUFA community. Areas of service over the years have included teaching RE, and serving on the Personnel Committee, the Pastoral Care Team, the Fundraising Committee, WACT, the Hospitality Team, the Volunteer Recognition Team, the Committee on Shared Ministry, and the recent Bylaws Task Force. She has also served in various roles on Sunday mornings, including Worship Assistant, Sound Tech and Usher. Through the Social Action Committee, she coordinated UUFA’s involvement with Family Promise (then IHNA) for several years and represented UUFA by serving on the IHNA Board, and she coordinated several Habitat For Humanity build days for the congregation. These experiences have given her a breadth of understanding of the Fellowship and its role and importance in the lives of its members and in the community at large.

Barb Schell

Barb Schell I joined the Fellowship in 1990 when we were in the building on Prince Avenue, as the group was planning our building here on Timothy Rd. I became more active once I had been at the Fellowship for several years.  The following are various committees I was a member of, in roughly chronological order. I have also noted if I held a leadership position in those committees.

Past Service (approximately 1995-2020): Personnel Committee- Member and Chair, Long Range Planning Committee, Sunday Services Committee, Choir, Music Committee- Member and Chair, Administrative Support Committee, Bylaws Revision, Visioning Committee Co-chair, Small Group Ministry Formation Committee, Stewardship Committee/Pledge Drives (Multiple times), UUFA Timeline for 60th Anniversary, EOV Task Force, EOV Aesthetics Committee Chair, Committee on Shared Ministry, Member and Chair; Board of Trustees Member, (2006-2008; 2016-2020); Vice President (2018-2019) President (2019-2020), Co-chair Coffee House event, Provided several sermons, SGM and Forum talks

My current service includes: Nominations Committee, Endowment Committee, Memorial Tree ad hoc committee-Chair, Buildings and Grounds