The email the Board had been waiting for arrived from UUFR President-Elect Robin Banker on Monday, April 17 at 10:10 p.m. While all Board-related emails are exciting to receive, this one held special importance. It was the results of the Developmental Ministry Advisory Team search, and they had news to share.
Attached to Robin’s email was a document, tempting us like a beautifully wrapped present under the tree on Christmas Eve, waiting to be ripped open.
The attachment didn’t disappoint. The team’s thoughts, captured thoroughly and neatly by chair Tom Silverio, led to an exciting conclusion – the team thought one of the candidates was a great fit for UUFR:
- Someone who had a good deal of experience both as a settled and interim minister, in churches larger than UUFR and smaller.
- Someone who enjoys delivering fantastic, thought-provoking, inspiring sermons that make you want to shout out, clap, and ponder.
- Someone who has worked with UU congregations that are not perfect, and was interested in developmental ministry and working with us on our goals.
- Someone who was raised as a UU, and who went to college in North Carolina (no, it was not Duke, UNC, or NC State – we don’t know his preference on that important topic, yet).
That someone is the Rev. Dr. Justin Osterman, and the Board is happy to announce that we voted on Tuesday, April 18, to accept the team’s recommendation, and we will pursue him as our final candidate for UUFR’s developmental ministry position.
The entire Board asked many questions of Tom about the team’s findings; it was not a “rubber stamp” session. There were originally five candidates who expressed interest; narrowed to three by the UUA, then to two when one accepted a position elsewhere. While there are still many steps yet to complete, negotiations to hammer out, and a budget yet to finalize (now would be a great time to make that pledge for next year if you haven’t already – click here), we truly hope you will be excited to welcome Justin for a visit during the weekend of May 6-7. Mark your calendar now for a potluck dinner the night of Saturday, May 6, and make plans to attend service Sunday, May 7 and stay for coffee hour. Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks!
Here’s the part of this message that is not as fun to write, and we know that some of you will not be happy after reading it. At the congregational meeting held in February to affirm the Board’s decision to pursue the developmental ministry direction, we told you that we would have another congregational meeting so you could vote to affirm the selected candidate. We made the tough decision Tuesday to not follow through on that statement, and we are truly sorry to make this change.
The Board has been learning about developmental ministry as fast as we can, and we spoke too soon. It turns out that it is a norm to ask the congregation to vote on developmental ministry, but not the developmental minister choice. We have learned that doing the latter is a big deal, and often a deal breaker for candidates as they are deciding among their options. A developmental minister is more like hiring an interim or assistant minister, and a congregational vote on a minister is what a congregation does for a settled, or “permanent” lead minister. We weighed the options and potential harm of changing our stance, and came out in favor of following the accepted best practice to not ask for another congregational vote. We hope the greater good of bringing a great candidate to UUFR will outweigh the disappointment we know some of you will feel over this decision. We are happy to discuss this decision further; you can send an email to [email protected] or talk to any Board member.
For the record, the decision not to call for a vote was made before the Board discussed the issue with Justin; he did not ask for this as a condition of further pursuing the offer, although he did ask us about it, so we are glad we determined our position in advance. Please do not let this Board decision interfere with your enjoyment of learning more about him and meeting him.
He has a wealth of information on his website, www.revjustinosterman.com, including several sermons we hope you will watch or read.