Dear All Souls,
As many of you know, Rev. Rebecca Parker and Rev. Joanne Braxton will be leaving at the end of June to embark upon a new adventure in the Pacific Northwest where they will be devoted to writing and the work of the Braxton Institute. We wish them well and greatly appreciate their ministry among us during this period of transition. We're particularly grateful for Rev. Parker's work to strengthen the Adult Spiritual Development program and help develop a collaborative and shared Pastoral Care program, and for Rev. Braxton's powerful ministry of teaching, worship leadership, and spiritual care.
The Board of Trustees has been wrestling with the question of how best to fill the vacancy left by Rev. Susan Moore's departure, and upon much discussion and consultation with the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), the Committee on Ministry, and the Transformation Team, has decided to hire a contract minister rather than begin the search process for a permanent second minister at this time.
It is not unusual for churches to undergo a period of healing and transformation upon the departure of a beloved minister, and we believe that hiring a contract minister will allow the church to continue its healing and reconciliation process and to grow into new models of transformational leadership that are best suited to our commitments to antiracism, multiculturalism, justice, and equity.
The Transformation Team has encouraged the Board to adopt a policy that establishes a new, multicultural collaborative approach to ministry. With this in mind, we are posting a job announcement to the UUA website. The job posting is for a contract minister to serve as Minister of Congregational Life for a term of two years, with an option to extend. As stated in the posting:
We seek a minister who is committed to All Souls' mission to "to embody, equip, and build the Beloved Community" and who will advance our commitment to the Eighth Principle. We invite a minister who will work collaboratively with our team of ordained ministers and professional staff and collegially in shared ministry with our dedicated lay leaders and congregation. We invite candidates who will help us explore and live into new models of collaborative ministry that embody our commitments to equity and justice.
In this new model, Rev. Hardies, our new executive director Traci Hughes, and the newly hired contract minister will all report to and be accountable to the Board of Trustees.
Over the next few months, the Ministerial Search Committee, consisting of representatives from the Board of Trustees, Rev. Rob Hardies, Traci Hughes, and other lay leaders and staff will evaluate applications from ministers, conduct interviews, and identify a new contract minister. We are fervently hoping to make an offer to a contract minister this spring, because ministers participating in the traditional UUA search will be receiving offers at that time. The timeline is tight and ambitious, but we believe that we have a strong and committed team. We will endeavor to keep the congregation informed along the way; keeping in mind that, to protect the privacy of ministers who are currently serving other congregations (and therefore need to keep their application confidential), we will be unable to share the names of applicants. However, if you would like more information, members of the Board and the Search Committee will be holding meetings after both services this coming Sunday, March 10. Also, Megan Foley from the UUA will be at church on Sunday, March 17, to talk more about the search process.
We acknowledge that some may be uncomfortable with exploring new models of leadership. However, over the past year, Revs. Hardies, Parker, Braxton, and Keithan have modeled a structure of collaborative ministry, which has enriched and nurtured them as well as our congregation. This next step would build on that success. Moreover, All Souls Church, since its inception, has taken risks and tried new approaches that have run contrary to established norms. All Souls took an anti-slavery stance when slavery was the law of the land. We fought segregation when segregation was legal. We hired the first African American senior minister in the UUA, running counter to a long history of excluding African Americans from UU ministry. Being leaders in innovation means making difficult decisions and being unafraid to fail. In the words of our Rev. Rob Keithan: "When we think of the risks associated with change, we tend to think only of negative ramifications. This mindset favors the dominant status quo, which likes things as they are."
We are hopeful that we can recruit a visionary and flexible contract minister who will be actively committed to helping All Souls grow and evolve into a new leadership model, who will work collaboratively with our team of ordained ministers and professional staff, and collegially in shared ministry with our dedicated lay leaders and congregation. We invite candidates who will help us explore and live into new models of collaborative ministry that embody our commitments to equity and justice.
We look forward to taking this step with you,
All Souls Board of Trustees
All Souls Board of Trustees