Transition Team Updates | Transition Timeline


The UUAA congregation is currently in a two-year transition period between senior ministers. During this time we are energetically served by our wonderful UUAA staff including our Interim Senior Minister, Rev. Doug Wadkins. Rev. Wadkins both serves in the Senior Minister role at UUAA and helps us prepare for calling a new settled senior minister. That search process is now underway.

The Search Process - Calling Our Next Senior Minister

The first step in calling a new Senior Minister is to form a Ministerial Search Committee to oversee the search, as set out in our UUAA Bylaws. The UUAA Board of Trustees is following the guidance of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), which has extensive experience in helping congregations search for and call senior ministers. They recommended involving every member of UUAA in the process of identifying people who would make good Search Committee members. During the month of March the Board asked everyone in the Congregation to recommend UUAA members they trust to carry out this important work. The Board is using this list of recommendations to prepare a slate.

The UUAA Bylaws specify that the Congregation elects 4 members of the Ministerial Search Committee and then afterward, the Board appoints 3 members, attempting to assure a balanced committee. All members should read the biographies of the candidates that will be available by mid-May to prepare for the congregational vote at our Annual Meeting on June 4, 2017 at 11:30 am. The Board will appoint the additional three members by June 7th.

The seven member committee starts its work in July, 2017.

What qualities should be considered when electing/ selecting a Search Committee member?

A good Search Committee member is someone who

  • Has been a UUAA member for at least a year.  (The Board will assure all candidates fulfill this requirement.)

  • Is not a paid member of the UUAA staff.

  • Is respected and trusted by many in the UUAA Congregation.

  • Is strongly committed to the Congregation as a whole, not just to a subgroup. 

  • Doesn't hold extreme views, either positive or negative, about our previous ministers.

  • Is capable of both self-assertion and compromise.

  • Is well suited to teamwork.

What is the commitment like for search committee members?

Members of the Ministerial Search Committee must

  • Commit about 250-400 hours over the coming year

  • Promise to attend every meeting of the committee

  • Pledge to conduct a search that is fair and nondiscriminatory with respect to race, color, disability, sex, sexual orientation, age, and national origin

  • Commit to maintain confidentiality and to seek consensus

  • Hold the welfare of the entire congregation above their loyalty to particular groups and activities within UUAA

  • Be comfortable with using email

Note that although this committee requires a large time commitment, serving on a ministerial search committee can be extremely rewarding. It is a task that gives you an opportunity to know the congregation in a very deep way and to have a significant impact on the future of the congregation. Those who have served on search committees often say that the experience was satisfying, meaningful, and the most important thing they have ever done for the congregation.

What happens after the committee is formed?

The search committee begins its work in July. The committee is assisted closely by our Ministerial Settlement Representative from the UU MidAmerica Region and our Interim Senior Minister, Rev. Doug Wadkins.

Please see the ministerial transition time line further down this page for a full overview of the transition period.



Our Interim Senior Minister Reverend Dr. Douglas E. Wadkins

DougWadkinsPhotoThe Board of Trustees is very pleased that Reverend Dr. Douglas E. Wadkins is serving as our Interim Senior Minister until August of 2018. Rev. Wadkins has deep experience in UU interim ministry. He comes to us from his previous successful interim ministry post in Bloomington, Indiana. You can visit his web site: if you would like to learn more.

In May of 2016, the Board’s Interim Ministry Task Force (President Beth Hospadarak and trustees Hayley Boyse, Allen Duncan, Tricia Mooney, Lissa Oliver and Sandy Simon) evaluated eight outstanding candidates and interviewed several of the eight to find an Interim Minister who would be a terrific fit with our staff and congregants and bring joy and inspiration to our high energy UUAA community.

Rev Wadkins interim skills are helping us work on our governance, pastoral care and other key tasks that we need to complete before we call our next settled senior minister.

Our Transition Team

Click on this link to read the latest updates on interim activities from the Transition Team

In July 2016, the Board of Trustees appointed a Transition Team to help guide UUAA through our two years of interim ministry: Terri Wilkerson (chair), Cesilie Cordovilla, Victor Hola, Lisa Lemble, Betsy Price and Erik Stalhandke.

The Transition Team meets regularly with Interim Senior Minister, Rev. Doug Wadkins, to help determine priorities for our two interim years. They serve as good communicators who can help Rev. Wadkins learn about our congregation and help the congregation keep informed about transition activities. Watch for their updates on this web page and watch for the transition logo (top of this page) that flags information about ministerial transition.

The written materials on interim ministry recommend that the Transition Team be made up of trusted members of the congregation who can represent a range of congregational interests, who are open to change and who are able to speak the Truth in Love to the Interim minister and to members of the congregation. A big thank you to Terri, Cesilie, Victor, Lisa, Betsy and Erik for serving in this important role.

 TransitionTeam2016Erik Stalhandske, Cesilie Cordovilla, Terri Wilkerson, Victor Hola, Betsy Price (not pictured, Lisa Lemble)

 If you have input about our interim processes please send email to the Transition Team


Ministerial Transition Background and Time Line

In a letter to the UUAA congregation on February 29, 2016 our Senior Minister, Reverend Gail R. Geisenhainer announced that she would be retiring from UU ministry in August of 2016. Rev. Geisenhainer was called to ministry here in April of 2008 and served us with deep love and commitment as the 12th settled minister since our founding in 1865. Rev. Gail, her partner Celeste and her mother have moved to Maine where they live much closer to their families.

As our UUAA President, Beth Hospadaruk wrote at the time, "this will certainly be a time of change, emotions, plans, goodbyes and hopes for the future."

calendar sm

UUAA can look forward to calling our next awesome settled Senior Minister in April of 2018. The new minister would then join us in August or September of 2018.  In the meantime we have a two year Interim Senior Minister and we are busy with exciting work that takes our congregation into the "dawning future" we began planning during our 150th anniversary celebration in 2015.

Want to read more about our work ahead? Read the 2016-2020 Strategic Plan for UUAA.



 Questions about the process?

MidAmericaRgionPlease take time to visit the MidAmerica Region web information on ministerial transitions. This page includes some excellent short videos on aspects of ministerial transition. You can find the links on the right side of the web page.


 Throughout our interim ministry years and our senior minister selection process UUAA receives guidance and support from transitions liaisons in both the MidAmerica Region and the transitions office of the UUA in Boston. We are well supported.

 Answers to some of your questions...

 How does the congregation take part in the selection of the next settled Senior Minister? The Search committee (not yet selected) represents the congregation and once convened, they will survey the congregation to hear everyone's ideas on the kind of minister we want to call. After screening, interviewing and listening to sermons by available ministers, the Search Committee selects one person as the final candidate. The congregation is then asked to vote yes or no on whether to call that minister.

Why a 2-year interim? Couldn't it have been shorter? Not really...

-The UU search process has a very defined time line. To call a settled senior minister to start in August/September of 2017 would have meant a very hurried process to have a Search Committee and materials gathered and be ready to interview by Fall of 2016 to select a final candidate in April of 2017.

- The Board and their advisors saw that it could be very helpful to have a 2 year interim minister help us through some needed organizational changes to make the job of the new settled minister better defined and a very desirable ministry.

- Some members remember our last transition time as a bit rocky. UUAA is in a very different place now than we were 10 years ago. We have not made large changes to the staff and to our worship traditions as we did then. We have a talented, committed staff, very involved lay leaders and many thriving programs. We can look forward to a busy, productive and happy two years of building and searching and getting fully ready to welcome our next Senior Minister.


Ministerial Transition Time Line

April 22, 2016 Application for an interim senior minister was submitted to the UUA (Board of Trustees interim ministry subcommittee)
May 20, 2016 Rev Doug Wadkins accepted the offer to serve as our Interim Senior Minister, beginning in August.
June 19th, 2016 Over 400 congregants attended the farewell party for Rev. Geisenhainer
July, 2016 UUAA Transition Team appointed by BOT
July 31, 2016 Rev. Geisenhainer's final Sunday – farewell cake and goodbyes in the Social Hall followed the service
August 4, 2016 Interim Senior Minister Doug Wadkins joined us, beginning his 2 years with us.
February, 2017 Board of Trustees announced procedures for forming the Ministerial Search Committee.
March, 2017 Board of Trustees collects recommendations for members of the Ministerial Search Committee
April, 2017 Board reviews search committee recommendations and prepares a slate for the June Annual Meeting
June 4th, 2017 UUAA Annual Meeting-- election of 4 Ministerial Search Committee members.
June 7th, 2017 The Board announces the full 7 member Ministerial Search Committee (4 elected and 3 appointed)
July - Nov, 2017 Search Committee working with Rev Wadkins and a MidAmerica Region representative, creates and submits information for ministerial candidates.
Nov, 2017 Search Committee submits UUAA's application for Senior Minister candidates.
Jan, 2018 Search Committee interviews candidates

Feb & March, 2018 Search Committee holds "pre-candidating" week ends with final choices
April, 2018

Search committee makes offer to final candidate.

Presentation of final candidate to the UUAA Congregation - Congregation votes whether or not to call the candidate as our Senior Minister.

September, 2018

UUAA enthusiastically greets our 13th Senior Minister



If you have questions or concerns to raise about the overall transition process, please feel free to send email to the Transition Team or talk to any of your UUAA Board members. If you have questions about the search process, refer your questions to a Board member.

 WATCH for the "road to the dawning future" logo (top of this page) that will direct you to information about our ministerial transition.