Introducing the Ministerial Search Team
November 2020 commUNITY Newsletter
Democratic Process and our UU Values
Louise Livesay-Al, Trustee
As the weather turns cold and the leaves crunch under our feet, we are bombarded with messages about candidates and the bedrock responsibility of voting in our democracy. And as the stakes are high this year, no matter which side of the aisle you stand, we are especially aware of this duty and responsibility.
Bill Doherty, a member of Unity Church, was recently on MPR with Kerri Miller talking about the growing political polarization in our country, and our choices about how we will be with one another the day after the election, and going forward. He has been working for the past four years through Braver Angels, the organization he co-founded to try to depolarize American politics by opening dialogue. Braver Angels aims for understanding of one another through conversation, especially when we disagree, rather than trying to convince or cast judgment and hatred on people who see things differently.
In trying to focus on the healing of our nation, I was struck by the pledge called “From Malice Towards None,” borrowing from Abraham Lincoln’s words, Bill challenged listeners to commit to this pledge, no matter whether our candidate wins or not: “Regardless of how the election turns out, I will not hold hate, disdain, or ridicule for those who voted differently from me. Whether I am pleased or upset about the outcome, I will seek to understand the concerns and aspirations of those who voted differently, and will look for opportunities to work with people with whom I disagree.”
How do we wrap our head around doing this? It was clear from the conversation that people, both red and blue, were struggling with this challenge. Our divisions run deep. I later realized that this pledge is calling us to live out our UU Principles with regard to inherent worth and dignity of every person; compassion in human relations; a free and responsible search for truth; the right of conscience and use of democratic process in our congregations and society; a world community with peace, liberty and justice for all; and respect for the interdependent web of all existence. There is a lot to unpack here. Our principles do not say they are applicable only to one type of person and not others. And in our congregations, we have diversity of political beliefs. Let us not lose that diversity and be able to share our UU space with one another.
At Unity Church, we too have important congregational democratic process this month. Leading up to and during the Annual Meeting on Saturday, November 21 (see the back cover for the call to meeting), church members will vote to approve new board members, the Ministerial Search Team (MST), and the 2021 budgets. The MST consists of nine members who will represent the breadth of voices in our congregation as they search and select our future minister(s). This is important work that will have lasting impact on our congregation.
With this being an unusual year, the annual meeting will be conducted online. Voting members of the congregation will receive information on the slate of 21 candidates for the MST and will vote electronically. The five candidates receiving the most votes will be seated on the MST. The board will fill the remaining four spots from candidates on the slate. Voting information will arrive by email and will include the summary of the slate of candidates and procedure to vote. The board will announce the Ministerial Search Team on November 23. Please participate in this part of our democratic process! If you want to become a voting member, please contact Laura Park at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So let us practice democracy this month on November 3 and 21, and remember to aspire to our UU Principles no matter the outcome. Our democracy, inside and outside Unity’s walls, depends on it.
March 24, 2020
Dear Unity Church Members and Friends,
This past weekend your board of trustees met to consider the impact of the Covid19 pandemic on the life of the church and our role as trustees in helping to foster the well-being of our shared ministry. We want to acknowledge the flexibility and creativity of the ministers and staff as we find new ways to come together in these challenging times.
We are blessed to have a strong and effective pastoral ministry. More than fifty “congregational connectors” have volunteered to help us keep in touch and take good care of each other. The ministers and the pastoral care team stand ready to continue to reach out with grace, sensitivity, and compassion.
Among the responsibilities assigned to the board is the selection of an interim senior minister to join the executive team for a year after Janne and Rob retire. Given present circumstances we believe an effective interim ministry experience is unlikely. We wonder if it is even possible for an interim minister to move to Saint Paul and begin serving our community by the end of the summer.
We are convinced that what our congregation needs most now is stable, seasoned leadership. In light of these considerations, the board has asked Janne and Rob to stay with us for another six to twelve months. They accepted our invitation and share our sense that extending their ministry among us is in the best interest of the church.
The board and executive team will work together over the coming weeks to determine logistics, reevaluate timelines, and consider other factors in play so we can effectively move forward. Rob and Janne’s ministry will evolve over the coming months as we clarify our staffing needs and plan for the future. We are grateful for their flexibility and commitment to our community.
We will continue to stay in close touch with you as we work together in service to the values we all share.
Jackie Smith, Chair
Unity Board of Trustees
Alex Askew, Justin Cummins, Clover Earl, Nila Gouldin, Ruth Kirkland,
Louise Livesay-Al, Jennifer Tong, Jill van Koolwijk
CLICK HERE to watch this message as a video from Jackie Smith.
The Rev. Jen Crow, a trained UUA transition coach, former Unity intern minister, and senior co-minister at First Universalist Church of Minneapolis led a special meeting of the congregation to help build our understanding of how the search for our next called ministers will be conducted.
Ministerial Search Team Candidates
Senior Co-Ministers Retirement Announcement
2018 Annual Report
2018 Annual Meeting Information Packet