Ministerial Search Committee

Communication History

Letter #5 - March 2017

Candidating Week 


The candidate selected by your Ministerial Search Committee will visit First Church April 29-May 7.  We will soon share with you the full schedule of activities for that visit.  In the meantime, please make every effort to attend the services on April 30 and on May 7, as well as the Congregational Meeting after church on May 7, when we will vote whether or not to accept the recommendation of the Ministerial Search Committee.


Here are a few additional dates to save:


On Saturday, April 29th, from 4-7, there will be a welcoming open house for the candidate and all members of our congregation and staff at 15 Pondview Avenue, the home of Robert Amelio and Tim Williamson.


On Sunday, April 30th, from 12:30-1:30, we will have a question and answer exchange with our ministerial candidate.  Please join us.


On Saturday, May 6th, from 10-noon, we will have a potluck brunch at the church, to which everyone is cordially invited.




Alisa McGann

Search Committee Member 

Letter #4 - January 2017



The night before the names of interested ministers were released was especially fitful. I woke up several times to check the UUA website to see if any names of potential ministers were posted. The excitement I felt was of that of a child on Christmas morning. In my restlessness, I dreamed about a dead elephant. I told the committee about the dream and Patrick said that elephants symbolize patience. 


Coming to this point in the search at the dawn of a New Year is wonderfully symbolic of all of the initial excitement about what lies ahead. As the team waited for the names to be posted, we were reminded of the patience that is needed in this process--patience that we as the Search Committee must possess, and also your patience as a congregation as you wait to meet your ministerial candidate.


When the names were posted, we were delighted and humbled to learn that we had all of TEN diverse ministerial applicants interested in our congregation! As we begin our quest to narrow the field of candidates down to our top three, we want you to know that we are keeping our promise to you to find the best fit for us as a whole rather than playing up our own favorites. We are here to do your work and to serve you as the congregation!  


Our next steps will be interviewing candidates on video calls, checking references and then selecting three pre-candidates who we will actually meet in person and hear preach in nearby neutral pulpits. Now that we are entering a phase of confidentiality, we ask for your patience, your prayers, and your faith in us to find our new settled minister.  


Happy New Year!




Alisa McGann

Search Committee Member 

Letter #3 - December 2016


We're out there! Our profile was published for interested ministers to see on December 1st. It was a nervous moment, taking all the hard work and the thinking from the congregation, and saying "here we are." 

Apparently, the ministers like us.  In our class (which is a measure of size and projected compensation), we are the most popular congregation, meaning that the most ministers have shown interest in our position. We should all be proud of this, we have a good reputation which makes its way around the community. 


Now we're busy with "the Packet." This is a website which we will share with ministers when we identify that we're both interested in each other (I guess as the kids say "when we swipe right"). They will show us their packet, we will show them ours, we'll do phone interviews, and then, we'll develop a short list whom we will confidentially interview in JP.


How can you help?  


First, by doing all the things you do so well to support the church, we need it buzzing for our spiritual strength. 


Second, by respecting confidentiality - we can't tell  you who is looking and whom we are looking at. If you see one of us walking around JP with someone you don't recognize, don't be hurt when we ignore you, and don't try to figure out who it is. If you happen to know, keep it as your secret!


Confidentiality does not mean a lack of transparency, we want to keep you informed, so please ask questions and stay involved in the process, we love to talk about it!


Abby Krueger

on behalf of the Ministerial Search Committee 

Letter #2 - October 2016


The surveys are in. The Cottage Meetings are over, and we are Beyond Categorical Thinking. We are digesting, trying to turn all this amazing thinking into cogent statements that describe us and the minister we want. What have we learned?

First we learned how much this congregation cares about the process. 83 people took the time to complete a survey. In developing the survey we struggled. We knew if it was too long, it would be challenging to get people to devote the time to it, and if it was too short, we would lose valuable information.  We came to some compromise still thinking it too long, but unwilling to cut more.  You were undaunted; you did not just do the checkbox questions, you wrote thoughtful comments as well.


Many of you also took a Sunday afternoon or a week night to join a cottage meeting, offering careful thinking and close attention to each other.


We learned that you care what happens on Sundays; sermon content is important, and you want the children attending. You do much more than attend on Sunday, with many of you noting many other activities, but Sunday service appears to be the touchstone.


We learned that just about everyone wants the church to grow. Some people noted a concern that there were a limited number of people available for tasks.


We learned that people don't want a minister who changes things too fast, people may want certain things to change, but not at the cost of losing what we love now.


Feelings range broadly on the question of our Christian heritage. Some members feel that the use of traditional Christian language and symbols keeps people away and others find these a reason to claim this church as their own. Balance among these views and respect for our diversity will be a challenge for the new minister.


What's next?


The committee will turn what we learn into a description of the congregation and the minister we seek. We will share this with you.  Then, when it is approved by our Ministerial Search Representative (Laura Graham) we will post it on the internet, in a site only available to ministers in search. At that point we will be “open for business.” Ministers will be able to see who we are and if they are interested they will let us see who they are. If this is computer dating, we will be looking at each others’ profiles.

Our committee continues to work hard to make sense of all this. We value your participation and enthusiasm. We also value your support, perhaps best illustrated in the closing comment on a survey “Go now in Peace.”

Abby Krueger

on behalf of the Ministerial Search Committee 

Letter #1 - September 2016


Your search committee is eager to embark on this journey!

We are:


Andrea Fleck Clardy - Chair

As chair, Andrea hosts and runs our meetings, keeps an overview, and fills in whatever gaps occur.

Abby Krueger - Secretary / Treasurer

As Secretary, it's my job to keep you all informed,  you'll hear from me a lot! As treasurer I'll track expenses and make sure we are keeping to our budget. 


Patrick Simmons - Multiple roles

Survey Coordinator - Patrick will be working to ensure we are all heard, and have a chance to reflect on what sort of minister we want through the Congregational Survey. 


Congregational Record Editor - He will take all that information from the survey, and other information gathering such as the Cottage Meetings, and put it in a format which prospective ministers can look at to decide if they want to be considered for us.


Packet Editor - (with Robert Amelio)  Patrick and Robert will work together to make a beautiful website which really shows who we are and what ministers can expect. This will be seen by ministers who we agree to "trade packets with."


Alisa McGann - Multiple roles 

Arranger - Alisa will take care of getting everything set up for candidates and pre-candidates visits, air tickets, hotels, and neutral pulpits. 


Reference Checker - (with Robert Amelio)  Alisa and Robert will help us to figure out what to ask and how to ask it!

Robert Amelio  - Multiple roles

Negotiating Team Representative - In addition to the roles noted above, Robert will work with the Standing Committee to develop the contract we will be proposing to potential ministers.  

Glastonbury Retreat


We figured out these roles at our amazing retreat at Glastonbury Abbey this summer. 


Our ability to use this lovely facility came from Carolyn Dooman's memorial gift. Although Carolyn left the congregation a few years ago to be near family, we were always a part of her, and following her death a group made a contribution in her honor. The Standing Committee voted to earmark these funds so that we could have a peaceful setting and work hard. We thank the Standing Committee and Carolyn for making this possible. 

We also want to thank our UUA Ministerial Search Representative (MSR), Laura Graham. Laura will coach us through this process. She brings us experience from guiding 20 searches before us, and did a great job facilitating our retreat.


In addition to the retreat, we have been meeting weekly and will continue to do so (at least) until the process is complete. We've used this time so far to develop the Congregational Survey, plan the Cottage meetings (9/25, 9/28 and 10/9) and the Beyond Categorical Thinking Seminar (10/2), as well as other planning and initial search activities. We have plenty to do but are confident that with everyone working together we can accomplish everything.

We are honored to be entrusted with this process, and will work to keep your trust by keeping you as well informed as we can. Questions are always welcome, but please understand that there may be times when we respond, "Sorry, that is confidential." Future letters will have more details, but for now, take a look at the table below for an overview of what to expect for the year ahead. 

We will try to get a bulletin board so you can follow our progress. You'll get to know the terms below. We will be asking you for help - and we know you will come through! 


Abby Krueger

on behalf of the Ministerial Search Committee 

June 2016

The slate of nominees for the Search Committee -  Andrea Fleck Clardy, Robert Amelio, Abby Krueger, Alisa McGann and Patrick Simmons - was unanimously approved at the congregation's annual meeting held on Sunday May 15.    A statement from each of them, prepared prior to the meeting, is posted below.  Their first task is to schedule their start up retreat with the UUA's Ministerial Settlement Representative, Laura Graham.  


Andrea Fleck Clardy

I know two things for sure: 1) I'm honored to be considered for the Ministerial Search Committee. 2) That committee has a terrifyingly important charge. Everything else is complicated.


On the one hand, I've served on the Standing Committee for six of the eight years I've belonged to First Church. I chaired the Strategic Planning Committee in 2012 and the update committee the following year. I chaired the Standing Committee for three years, including the arduous, painful year of Terry's resignation.


On the other hand, I promised myself when Tracey blessedly arrived, that I would lay low. I would give myself time to quietly enjoy the healing community and faith sanctuary our church provides. I certainly would not accept a crucial, demanding role.


Then again, on the one hand, my professional skills are in writing and marketing. I have served on a lot of boards and committees and have confidence in my ability to listen to diverse voices and build consensus. Those would be useful assets in the Ministerial Search.


But, on the other hand, I am away at least one weekend a month and sometimes more. I don't know how to think about compensation packages and I'm not good at spreadsheets. 


So the choice was not simple but I care deeply about this church and I have never been good at laying low. I'm in. If chosen to serve, I will listen to the congregation, work hard, and keep my fingers crossed.


Robert Amelio

First Church has been a part of my life since 1987. I came looking for a church, a place to go on Sundays, and found a community. I got my husband Tim to come, and stay, through his love of music. Over the years I have been on two capital campaign committees, the standing committee, the personnel committee, have taught our children, narrate our Christmas pageant, and been married here. I have dear friends here, people I see occasionally, and others I see only on Sundays. As an "old-timer" I look around and smile as I see younger people volunteering their time, joining our community, and children running up the side aisle as we sing them out. We see Tracey introducing changes to the ways we have done things for many years, and holding on to other traditions we find comforting.


I am honored to be nominated for this committee. If chosen I hope I could bring the skills and experience of my many years in organizational development, facilitation and mediation, human resources, and diversity and inclusion, to our process in selecting our next minister.


We are at a moment of historic change at First Church, which brings with it excitement, fear, and great anticipation. As we spend the next year on this journey we need to respect the legacy of the 31 years Terry gave to us as our minister, and forge ahead to create the next chapters of our wondrous, loving, and exciting future. For me, there is nothing more humbling nor more profound to have been nominated for this honor. Thank you.


Abby Krueger

When I joined in 1998 I realized that church is much more than Sunday services, powerful though those are. I soon saw that the way to be part of this organization was service and participation, so I signed up to work the yard sale - the next year I was asked to run it, and earned the compliment 'you kept everyone smiling throughout this'. Not all my work has been about keeping everyone smiling, serving as chair of the stewardship or standing committees requires that we face serious challenges, but overall my service has involved much joy. I find particular joy in my work on the welcoming committee, and chairing the two annual craft fairs. Chairing the Interim Ministry Committee, and serving on the music committee currently round out my resume.


I see Search Committee as a unique service opportunity. The chance to help the congregation select our minister needs careful dedicated hard work which I can offer.


I would bring:

  • History: my past service forms an often consulted memory in many areas of church life.

  • Discernment/ communication I can hear what people are saying and often help others understand it. This will be valuable in determining the will of the congregation.

  • Organization: my spreadsheet skill would help keep track of many details

The question of "what constituencies would I represent?" is troubling. I would seek to represent the congregation, and assure that every voice is heard. My personal bias is towards a theistic and Christian oriented worship, but I see the search service as about unifying, not defining borders.


I offer to serve because my history and my passion do not permit me to neglect this challenge. I trust the congregation and the process to develop a powerful committee but to leave myself out of the process would deprive us of a valuable resource.


Alisa McGann

It is with great honor and enthusiasm that I accept a nomination to our Church's Search Committee. As a member for nearly two years and an attendee for almost three, my journey with First Church has been an active one. In my time here, I have worn many different hats, serving on the Welcoming Committee, Interim Ministry Committee and Standing Committee. I have coordinated Summer Services, presented sermons to our congregation, served as liturgist and coordinated the readers for our weekly services. All of these roles have helped give me the experience and perspective needed for our search. I have been able to acquire insight into what the congregation's needs are, as well as the needs of the Minister.


 I am looking forward to this very important and exciting opportunity to help our church find a settled minister who will fulfill the unique needs of our congregation. As a mother to a six year old, I hope I can best represent younger families with children in RE, keeping our best interests in mind.


My journey with First Church has been one of excitement, change, and anticipation for the future. Thank you for your nomination. I am ready to serve!


Patrick Simmons

I'm very honored to have been named as a possible member of the committee. It's great to know that people about whom I care so much have confidence in me.


I've been involved with First Church for the last year and a half. In that wonderful time I've served on the Welcoming Committee, as well as helped out with the Capital Campaign video committee and the 2016 annual budget drive committee. I have also given a summer service, performed at the fellowship dinners, and served in various other helping roles.


I am invested in this church. It has become a second home to me. I want to see our community thrive and grow, to continue to lead a life of spiritual abundance and joy. Finding a minister who speaks our same spiritual language is vital to making that happen. If I can be of help finding that person then I am happy and eager to serve.


I believe I am an adept negotiator and storyteller. As diverse as our congregation is, as unique as each individual member's beliefs and values can be, I believe I can effectively tell our story to potential ministers. I am mindful of the presence and importance of small details without losing sight of the big picture.


I will commit myself to this search and make it part of my life in the coming year if I am selected. Working together with the other members of the committee, I am confident we will find the right shepherd for our funky flock.