A ministerial search typically takes nine or ten months, from the time the committee is elected to the time that a congregation votes on whether to accept the candidate that the committee has chosen.
The first stage of the search is information gathering. In the Fall, the Search Committee gathers information about what the congregation needs and wants in a new minister, through a congregational survey and small group meetings with members and committees, often called "cottage meetings." The congregation also participates in a workshop called Beyond Categorical Thinking, which encourages the congregation to be aware of their own biases and to remain open-minded when selecting a minister, as the congregations’ best choice for a minister may not be what congregants expected. The Search Committee compiles all of this information and completes a Congregational Record, which they submit to the UUA in November.
In December, ministers view the Congregational Records of churches who are in search, and they select which churches they are interested in. In January, the Search Committee reviews the names of interested ministers and begins a lengthy process of interviewing, reference-checking, research, and internal discussion about which ministers, if any, would be a good fit for their congregation. This process continues for the rest of the winter, during which time the Search Committee narrows down their choices.
In late March, both Search Committees and ministers submit their preferences to the UUA. If there is a good match between the Search Committee’s list and a minister, then in April the Search Committee invites the minister to become their Candidating Minister. The congregation meets this candidate in April and votes to accept them as minister or not. If the congregation votes to accept the minister, the minister then chooses to accept or reject the congregation’s offer. Ministers do not typically accept offers from churches unless the congregational vote is at least 95% in favor. This may seem like a high bar, but successful calls happen regularly. Search Committees only select Candidating Ministers that they think are very likely to be called successfully by the congregation.
What else do I need to know?
You can access our Ministerial Search Committee Updates here. These updates summarize our committee’s most recent activities.
If you would like more information on how the search process works overall, you can read the UUA’s Settlement Handbook, available here. There are also video summaries of the Settlement Handbook available here.
For further information on the timing of the ministerial search process, take a look at this calendar the UUA put together.
To return to the main Search Information page, click here.