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Settled Minister Search Committee

SMSC Statement of Commitment to the Congregation

Search Timeline

Online "Packet" shared with Ministers

 

Committee Updates

 

April 9 update:

Almost two years ago you nominated us to act on your behalf to conduct the minister search process. We are extremely excited to tell you that we have found our candidate!

We came to our decision after an exhaustive search. After holding 17 cottage meetings and reviewing 147 responses to our congregation survey, we produced our congregational record and packet for prospective candidates. We’ve included 32 updates in our mid-week announcements to keep you informed. We followed up on all the suggestions from congregants about potential candidates. We read 19 ministerial records and countless sermons, held five Zoom interviews with candidates and made over a dozen reference calls. We hosted our top candidates for weekend long visits. By one estimate, we’ve each logged at least 300 hours on this project, but none of us really wants to count. We have exchanged well over two thousand emails, and met once a week, sometimes twice. We squeezed in time for some fun. We got to know and respect each other. And in the end, we unanimously agreed on this decision.


 The candidate we have chosen is a lover of nature and of music, and was raised in a family of educators. She loves bicycling, yoga, and singing. She loves to laugh and to be with people of all ages.

 Our candidate currently serves as Minister at the Religious Society of Bell Street Chapel in Providence, Rhode Island. She graduated with honors in 2012 from Andover Newton Theological School, and was a Presidential Scholar there. She grew up in North Andover, Massachusetts and is a lifelong Unitarian Universalist. Before going to seminary, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Disability Studies and her master's degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. She and her wife, Susan, have been married for six years this June. Their rescue dogs, Lela and Checkers, keep them on their toes.

 Some words from her in response to being chosen as our candidate:

“You have a remarkable search committee – they are kind, funny, cohesive, and deeply committed to this congregation and to Unitarian Universalism. It was wonderful to be welcomed by them. When I came to Ithaca, I was blown away by its natural beauty and the wonderful facilities where the congregation meets for fellowship and worship. I am over the moon to have found a good fit with FUSIT for the beginning of our shared ministry together. In just a few short weeks I will get to meet all of you, and I cannot express how excited I am to do so!”

 
It is with our deep pleasure that we recommend Rev. Margaret Weis to you as our next settled minister. Before and during Candidating Week (April 23 to April 30), we’ll do all we can to help you understand why she is such an outstanding choice.

 

February 15 update:

After extensive review of an amazing pool of ministerial candidates, we have selected the “pre-candidates” for the position of minister of our beloved society. We are getting to know these ministers in depth, through interviews, informal talks, reference calls, and sermons. We are excited about the ministers on our short list. The congregation’s participation in this process has helped us stay on target, and we’re looking forward to the day, this spring, when we can announce our final choice.

 

February 1 update:

If you are new to FUSIT, you may not know that FUSIT is currently in search for a settled minister. This is a year-long process, which began last summer with an extensive information gathering process of conversations, cottage meetings, staff interviews, and a congregational survey, and has now entered a period whose relative quiet belies a bustle of behind-the-scenes interaction between the search committee and potential candidates.

If the search process goes well, our activity this spring will result in a single candidate visiting Ithaca during "Candidating Week" during which they will deliver sermons on two adjacent Sundays and spend the intervening week with us, affording many opportunities to interact with the congregation. The second of these Sunday celebrations will be followed by a congregational vote to decide whether to call the candidate to serve our congregation.

Be assured that if the search committee asks a candidate to participate in Candidating Week, it will be because we collectively feel confident in and excited by that person's fit as our minister.

Thank you for the input you have provided thus far, and for your continued support,
-Kathy, Pat, Magdalen, Arthur, Andrew, and Don

 

January 10 update:

We’re moving into the critical phase of the search process.  Within the next few months, we’ll make our final choice from an impressive pool of candidates.  We want to remind you that we will present only one choice at the end.  Why only one?  For a successful ministry, any candidate will want an overwhelming affirmation in the final congregational vote.  If we presented multiple choices, no candidate would receive the almost unanimous “yes” vote that signifies that affirmation, and the congregation might find itself split into camps.  We value the trust and confidence you have placed in us to make this momentous decision.  By the time we present you with our choice, we will have reviewed a significant number of applications, checked dozens of references, interviewed candidates for countless hours, and discussed the candidates in depth.  At every stage, we hold in mind the hopes, dreams, and concerns of our congregation.   When it comes to the final decision, we will offer our selection for an up-or-down, yes-or-no vote.   We’re confident that you’ll be as enthusiastic as we are about the choice.   Thank you for your input during this process.

 

January 2 update:

Today was an important day for us. We received packets from ministers interested in serving our congregation. At the same time, our online packet went live for these prospective ministers. You are welcome to view the packet.

 

December 28 update:

Our packet has been completed and approved and will "go live" on January 2 for the ministers who have expressed interest in us based on our Congregational Record.

 

December 19 update:

We wish you all a very warm and joyful holiday season.  The team is continuing our work on "the Packet" for ministerial candidates. It is entering its final stages and is almost ready to submit for UUA approval! The Packet will be available for all UU Ministerial Candidates that request it and will be on the FUSIT website in the new year.

 

December 7 update:
Your Settled Minister Search Committee filed our Congregational Record with the UUA last week.  This is the document that signals we are in search and is the first impression ministers in search have to learn about us.  Now we are focusing on creating our “ Packet" which we will exchange with ministers in search.

 

November 21 update:

Happy Thanksgiving from your Settled Minister Search Committee! Work on our Congregation Record, the first thing candidates see from us, is all but complete. Thank you to everyone who has contributed – through conversation, writing and email, the survey and our cottage meetings, to this process. We also thank you for your general good will and personal support. We are now shifting our focus to the Congregation Packet, which goes “live” on January 3rd.

 

November 14 update:
The Committee continued its work on the Congregational Record which will be released to prospective ministers on November 30.

 

November 7 update:

The Settled Minister Search Committee is focused on putting together answers to the nearly 40 questions in the UUA Congregational Record questionnaire. Having spent many hours with you in cottage meetings and survey results gives us plenty of fodder for our answers. The Congregational Record is due for review before Thanksgiving.

 

October 19 update:

The Rev. Keith Kron has been the Director of the Transitions Office since 2010. He previously served from 1996-2010 as the UUA's Director of the Office of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Concerns. An elementary school teacher before entering ministry, he has taught an online course on children's literature for Starr King School for the Ministry. He also leads workshops on the enneagram and has occasionally been a part-time tennis pro. 

Rev Kron will be with us the weekend of October 29/30. Join us October 29, 9 a.m. to noon, in the Annex when he will lead "Beyond Categorical Thinking,” an important workshop for us as a congregation in search.

RSVP to smsc@unitarian.ithaca.ny.us.
Childcare will be available if requested before Oct. 27.
 

The Committee continues its work on the service for October 30 with Keith Kron and on gathering additional information as we prepare the Congregational Record which will be released to prospective ministers on November 30. We will share some of this work with the congregation during the Sunday service on October 30.

 

October 12 update: Please reserve the time: October 29, 9 a.m. to noon, in the Annex.  The Rev. Keith Kron, Director of the UUA Transition Office, will lead "Beyond Categorical Thinking,” an important workshop for us as a congregation in search.

In the workshop, we will consider the hopes, expectations, and concerns we have for a new minister; learn more about the ministerial search process; and explore how thinking categorically about people sometimes interferes with choosing the best candidate.
 
RSVP to smsc@unitarian.ithaca.ny.us.
Childcare will be available if requested before Oct. 27. 

The Committee is continuing its work of reviewing all the input from the cottage meetings and surveys and is gathering additional information as we prepare the Congregational Record which will be released to prospective ministers on November 30. We will share some of this work with the congregation during the Sunday service on October 30.

 

October 4 update: Mark your calendars for October 29!   Many of you have heard us mention the Beyond Categorical Thinking Workshop, to be held on Saturday October 29 from 9 to noon. We will host Rev. Keith Kron, Director of the UUA Transition Office. He will lead this workshop designed for congregations involved in the search for a new minister. Our survey showed that we are either enthusiastic to comfortable with our next parish minister being from any listed category (gender, race, age, sexual orientation etc.) except politically conservative.

In the workshop, we will consider the hopes, expectations, and concerns we have for a new minister; learn more about the ministerial search process; and explore how thinking categorically about people sometimes interferes with choosing the best candidate.

 
T
he workshop will be held in the Annex. Everyone should RSVP to smsc@unitarian.ithaca.ny.us.
Childcare will be available if requested before Oct. 27.  
 
A Big Thank You to all that participated in our cottage meetings and survey!  The Committee is busy reviewing and internalizing your heartfelt comments.

 

September 27 update: The Minister Search Committee has been working since late May on a search process that will continue to unfold throughout the year. Right now, we need your input to help us describe our congregation to prospective ministers and understand the qualities we seek:
 

1. Our congregational survey will close at the end of Sunday, 10/2. We have had many responses, but are asking for at least 30 more to obtain an understanding of who we are and what we are looking for. Please take the survey by following this link: Congregational Survey


2. If you have not yet attended one, please attend our last cottage meeting, this Sunday, 10/2, 1:15-2:45pm.
Cottage meetings are another critical way to provide input to and learn about the search process.  The committee has conducted seventeen cottage meetings so far and will host our last one this Sunday, 10/2.  These meetings are a refreshing venue to speak your truth and engage with others in deep conversations about our future.  Please contact smsc@unitarian.ithaca.ny.us and let us know if you would like to attend.


During the month of October, the Committee will be composing our responses for the UUA Congregational Record which is the first document prospective ministers view to learn about FUSIT.  We will be sharing our work-in-progress with you at the October 30th Sunday Celebration.


Please save the morning of October 29th to attend a workshop, entitled  "Beyond Categorical Thinking", hosted by the Search Committee and led by Rev. Keith Kron from the UUA. More details to follow.


Feel free to talk to us anytime in person, and/or to send any thoughts or questions you have to us at smsc@unitarian.ithaca.ny.us

Arthur Woll, Andrew Quagilatta, Magdalen Lindenberg, Kathy Hopkins, Pat Evans, and Don Barber
 


September 21 update: The Settled Minister Search Committee needs your input to market our congregation to prospective ministers. Here are your opportunities to participate:
 
1.  Take this survey!      Congregation Survey
 
This survey will provide answers to questions that the Committee must complete and submit to the UUA.  Your participation will ensure greater confidence in the results. Act now! The survey is only available through September.

2.  Please attend a cottage meeting!

The Committee has conducted fifteen cottage meetings so far.  Hosted by members of the congregation, they are a refreshing venue to speak your truth and engage with others in deep conversations about our future. We have a few opportunities remaining: September 22nd, 3-5pm, September 25th, 3-5 pm, and last opportunity on Sunday October 2nd at 12:30 after the Celebration.  Contact smsc@unitarian.ithaca.ny.us and let us know which one you can attend.

3.  Speak to us on Sundays and write us at smsc@unitarian.ithaca.ny.us

 

September 12 update: The Settled Minister Search Committee needs You!
 
The Settled Minister Search Committee needs your input to market our congregation to prospective ministers. Here are your opportunities to help:
 
1.   Please take this survey!    
Congregation Survey 
 
This survey will provide answers to questions that the Committee must complete and submit to the UUA.  Your participation will ensure greater confidence in the results. Act now! The survey is only available through September.

2.  Please attend a cottage meeting!

The Committee has conducted thirteen cottage meetings so far.  Hosted by members of the congregation, they are a refreshing venue to speak your truth and engage with others in deep conversations about our future. We have four opportunities remaining: September 17, 22, 25 and last opportunity on Sunday October 2nd after the Sunday Celebration.  Please contact smsc@unitarian.ithaca.ny.us and let us know which one you can attend.

3.   Speak to us on Sundays and write us at smsc@unitarian.ithaca.ny.us

The Committee of Arthur Woll, Andrew Quagilatta, Magdalen Lindenberg, Kathy Hopkins, Pat Evans, and Don Barber want to know your thoughts.
 
During the month of October, the Committee will be composing our responses for the UUA Congregation Record which is the first document perspective ministers view to learn about FUSIT.  We will be sharing our work in progress with you at the October 30th Sunday Celebration.
 
And you will be hearing more about our Beyond Categorical Thinking Workshop with Rev. Keith Kron from the UUA on Saturday October 29th.

 

September 7 update: Your SMSC has prepared a congregational survey which, along with our cottage meetings, is one of the most important ways for us to gather information about who we are as a congregation and the qualities we are seeking in a minister. Participating in the survey is one critical way you can support this process and the future of this society. Please — set aside time this week to complete the survey at this link. For those without convenient access to a computer, hard copies will be available at Sunday services. If an alternative arrangement is preferred, such as a copy by traditional mail, please let us know at smsc@unitarian.ithaca.ny.us.

The survey will be available through September, but please complete it as soon as you can!

The SMSC Cottage Meetings have so-far included over 100 participants in over a dozen meetings. Don't miss out. The next meetings are Sunday 9/11 from 2-4 on West Hill, Saturday 9/17 from 1-3 in Varna, Thursday 9/22 from 3-5 at Kendall, and Sunday 9/25 3-5 on South Hill. Please contact smsc@unitarian.ithaca.ny.us and let us know which one you can attend.

 


August 31 Update: We have held 11 Cottage Meetings and over 100 members and friends have attended. We are going to hold our next Cottage Meeting at Unirondack. Contact smsc@unitarian.ithaca.ny.us if you would like to attend or let us know WHEN you can, now through September. Also, we are in the process of planning a Cottage Meeting for Kendal Senior Living Community.

We are close to finalizing a congregational survey. Look for a link in the mid-week announcements on September 7.

 

August 24 update. Have you attended a Cottage Meeting? The SMSC is continuing to hold Cottage Meetings to hear your thoughts about our congregation and the qualities and skills you think are most important for our settled minister. We urge each of you to attend one. Contact smsc@unitarian.ithaca.ny.us if you can attend one of these next few meetings or let us know WHEN you can, now through September.
 
August 28th 3:00 – 5:00 pm (West Hill location)
August 28th 2:00 – 4:00 pm (Northeast Ithaca location)

September 11th 2:00 - 4:00 pm (West Hill location)
September 17th 1:00 - 3:00 pm Saturday (Varna)

 

August 17 update: The SMSC is continuing to hold Cottage Meetings where we can hear your thoughts about our congregation and the qualities and skills you think are most important for our settled minister. We urge each of you to attend one. Contact smsc@unitarian.ithaca.ny.us if you can attend one of these next two meetings or let us know WHEN you can, now through September.
 
August 28th 3:00 – 5:00 pm (West Hill location)
August 28th 2:00 – 4:00 pm (Northeast Ithaca location)
 
In other news, we are nearing completion of an online congregational survey which should be ready by the end of August.  We will provide computer access in the parlor for those  with limited computer resources at home.

 

August 10 update: Your Settled Minister Search Committee needs YOU and your input. Did you know that 54 of your fellow congregants have attended a Cottage Meeting so far? We want to hear from everyone. Contact smsc@unitarian.ithaca.ny.us if you can attend one of these next few meetings or let us know WHEN you can, now through September.

Sunday, August 14th in Ellis Hollow 2-4 pm
Sunday, August 28th in Northeast 2-4 pm
Sunday, August 28th on West Hill 3-5 pm

 

August 3 update: Your Settled Minister Search Committee needs YOU and your input. Did you know that 42 of your fellow congregants have attended a Cottage Meeting so far? We want to hear from everyone. Contact smsc@unitarian.ithaca.ny.us if you can attend one of these next two meetings or let us know WHEN you can, now through September.

Sunday August 7th at 6 pm
Tuesday August 9th at 10 am

 

July 27 update:
The SMSC is continuing to hold Cottage Meetings where we can hear your thoughts about our congregation and the qualities and skills you think are most important for our settled minister. We urge each of you to attend one.

We have hosts for 7/31, 8/7, 8/9, 9/4 (at Unirondack), and 9/11. If you would like to attend one of these OR if you would like to host a Cottage Meeting on another day, please contact us at smsc@unitarian.ithaca.ny.us.

In other work, we are analyzing the results of our interviews with staff members, and we are preparing questions for the congregational survey you will receive in about a month.

 

July 13 update:
Your search committee has had a productive month, and NOW we need YOU for our next step.

Cottage Meetings; These are facilitated discussions with members of the Search Committee and 8-12 FUSIT members hosted by YOU at home. The 1½ hour discussion is targeted to find your view of our congregation now, how you would like to see it change, and the qualities and skills you feel are most important in our settled minister.

1) Can you HOST a cottage meeting? We are especially looking for hosts for July 24th or 31st – but please let us know if you can host on any Sunday from July 24th through September 25th, by emailing us at smsc@unitarian.ithaca.ny.us.

2) Can you attend a cottage meeting on either July 17th (11:30-1:00), July 24th or 31st? We held our first cottage meeting last Sunday, and it was a terrific and informative conversation. Please let us know at smsc@unitarian.ithaca.ny.us.

ALSO: We have completed our charter: our Statement of Commitment to the Congregation and a graphic presentation of the Settled Minister Search Timeline.

 

July 6 update:
We need you!

A major part of the SMSC's work this summer and fall is to gather information from you -- about your view of our congregations' strengths and areas for growth, as well as the qualities and skills you feel are most important for our settled minister. And, one way we are seeking that information is through facilitated, face-to-face gatherings, or cottage meetings, with up to 10 participants. Everyone attending will have the chance to respond to 3 questions -- verbally and in writing (if preferred). We will be offering *many* opportunities to attend a meeting between now and September, and are kicking things off this coming Sunday. If you are interested in attending the first cottage meeting this coming Sunday, 7/10, from 11:00AM-12:30PM, please RSVP to smsc@unitarian.ithaca.ny.us. The meeting will be held at the Free/Woll residence at 509 Utica St; snacks provided.

 

June 29 update:
Your SMSC has met again! As of Monday 6/27, we have conducted four staff interviews, with several more to come within the next several weeks. We thank our staff for making time for us on such short notice and especially for their thoughtful input and care of this institution and community. We are also near completion of a one-page flier showing the search timeline, which will be disseminated within the week here as well as on the bulletin board near the FUSIT garden entrance. Apart from key dates and the overall search schedule, the timeline highlights ways you can contribute. Please stay tuned, and don't forget that your input is welcome at anytime at smsc@unitarian.ithaca.ny.us. Email input is received and discussed by all SMSC members, and saved for subsequent reference.

 

June 22: SMSC update:
Your SMSC has connected with the SMSC’s of both the Buffalo and Canton congregations that were in search last year with Rev. Craig Schwalenberg as the Ministerial Search Representative.  We have already received valuable insight.  

We have begun interviewing staff about the strengths and opportunities for our congregation as their view of the role of the minister and the character traits that would lead to a minister’s success.

We will be seeking your input as well through a survey and cottage meetings to be held between July and September.  If you have interest in supporting this process by hosting a cottage meeting for several of your FUSIT cohorts, please contact us at: smsc@unitarian.ithaca.ny.us

 

June 15: The Settled Minister Search Committee met Monday night and worked on the following tasks:

  • Continued to work on our Charter with you.
  • Began planning to interview paid staff to inform the search process.
     
  • Discussed a timeline for Cottage Meetings (small meetings with congregants to listen to you).
     
  • Planned for a workshop titled “Beyond Categorical Thinking” that will be offered on a Saturday this fall. The program is designed to promote inclusive thinking and prevent unfair discrimination during a congregation’s search for a settled minister
     

The SMSC bios are now on the FUSIT website.

 

June 8: The Settled Minister Search Committee is continuing work on our Charter with you, the FUSIT community, and development of a time line describing the stages in the search process. Specific updates from this week:

·         Photos and short bios of the SMSC are posted on the bulletin board near the Garden Entrance
·         We now have a page on the FUSIT web site.  See the “Minister Search” tab in the menu on the FUSIT web site.   Our timeline, bios, and other updates will be posted in the church building and on the web site as they become available
·         Contact the SMSC committee by email with your thoughts and questions: We can now be reached by emailing  smsc@unitarian.ithaca.ny.us

 

June 1: Your Settled Minister Search Committee (SMSC) held their 2nd meeting. We have developed our Covenant and are near completion with our Charter, which is our commitment to you.

 

May 25: Last Friday evening, May 20, the Rev. Craig Schwalenberg, our UU Ministerial Settlement Representative, met with the Board over dinner and then led an open meeting with the congregation to talk about the UUA search process.

The following day, we had a retreat (and our first official gathering) from 9:00-4:00. With Craig, we talked in detail about the process of searching for a new minister. We were quite impressed with how the process has been designed and with the changes that have taken place since our congregation was last in search. We ended the day by deciding on our roles and responsibilities for the facets of the search. This included some immediate tasks on which to begin work.

We held the first of our weekly meetings two days later on May 23. We focused on developing our search committee covenant and began to write a charter that describes how we envision our commitment to the congregation.  We have made a commitment to keeping the congregation informed about what we are doing and where we are in the process. This will manifest in many ways, including regular reports in the Midweek Announcements.

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