Hello All Souls,
I’m writing to follow up on the announcement during Sunday’s service that All Souls has extended our ministerial search by a year, so that we can spend a year focusing on stewardship.
Last year, many of you came together to be part of a project called Imagining Our Future, which reaffirmed our mission of becoming a diverse, spirit-growing, justice-seeking Beloved Community. This year, we had planned to step into that future by searching for a new settled minister, while Rev. Bill Sinkford served for one year as Transitional Minister.
Soon after Rev. Sinkford joined us in August, however, we learned that the church ran a shocking and unacceptable $400,000 deficit last fiscal year. That shortfall means that we are not financially in a place to go into search. To put it bluntly, many potential ministers would not be interested in a church that does not seem financially sound, and this reality would limit the success of our Search Committee.
Rev. Sinkford’s presence here is fortunate. Dealing with a funding shortfall takes a particular set of skills. While Rev. Sinkford cannot work magic, and coming together as a community will require all of us, he has extensive experience—eight years as the president of the entire Unitarian Universalist Association, and a dozen years as the Senior Minister of First Unitarian Portland, one of the few UU churches our size.
In conversation with the Search Committee and staff, the Board of Trustees decided last week to extend the search by one year. This means Rev. Sinkford will be with us until July 2024, and it means we will search for a minister next church year, rather than this church year. This decision gives us space to make progress financially, before we search.
Our financial challenges are in no way insurmountable, and we are quickly making plans to tackle them. What we will need most of all is you—your commitment to this church, and to each other. We will need you to Fund Our Future, and you will hear more about how you can do that on October 9th.
Neil Manzullo, President, All Souls Board of Trustees
The Search Committee is grateful to have such an engaged Board of Trustees, so that we were part of making the decision about extending the Ministerial Search process. And in fact, although we were willing and able to manage a fairly tight set of activities on the original timeline, it was going to be a challenge!
Every member of the Search Committee gladly accepted the revised charge from the Board to work together for two years. We can now also be more thoughtful and strategic in our activities, which feels like a luxury. We are not stopping! You will continue to hear from us, and there will be opportunities for you to weigh in on what you see for the future of our ministerial leadership. If you responded already by filling out our online survey, we appreciate it and will be using those responses. Because of the new extended timeline, we will relaunch that survey later in the process to engage folks that did not get a chance before this change of tempo.
As active members of the congregation, we are available to you for any input or questions you have about the process. Please feel free to contact us through email or approach us when you see us in the Church or on Zoom.
T Vatnick and Morgan Duncan, for the Ministerial Search Committee