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Ministerial Search Team

The seven member Ministerial Search Team started its work July 7th, 2017 with a retreat led by Rev. Lynn Kerr, our Ministerial Settlement Representative from the UU MidAmerica Region. Rev. Kerr explained the search process in depth and helped the team assign leadership roles and outline the work to be done.

The Search Team is well supported on multiple levels-- by Rev Kerr from the region, by our Interim Senior Minister, Rev. Doug Wadkins and by the UUA Transitions Office. The team is excited about the work ahead. Read more about the members of the Ministerial Search Team further down this page.

 

Meet your Ministerial Search TeamSearchCommitteehalfht

Ken Clein (Chair), Vilma Mesa, Sandy Simon, Tom Reischl, Kate Hutchens, Leigh Robertson, Mike Halerz

 

 

The Ministerial Search Team adopted the following covenant to guide their work with each other.

Ministerial Search Team Covenant

As we strive to recruit an outstanding candidate to serve as our congregation’s next Senior Minister, we covenant with each other to:

  • Work as a team
  • Speak from the heart
  • Listen deeply, with respect
  • Take time to discern
  • Dedicate time to complete tasks well
  • Communicate with one team voice to the congregation and staff
  • Communicate effectively with each other
  • Always keep the best interests of our congregation at the center of our work

Some of the specific ways we will support this covenant are:

    As team members, we will ask for help when we need it, give help when asked, and remain open to compromise.

    We will respect one another’s time by striving to attend all meetings, arriving on time and prepared.

    We will uphold confidentiality as required.

    We will keep all of our processes as transparent as possible.

    We will vigorously solicit input from the congregation and staff, providing equitable opportunities for all to contribute.

    We will rigorously analyze input from the congregation and incorporate the findings into our information for ministerial candidates.

    We will regularly ask ourselves, “what else can we be doing to make this process better?”

 

 

 

The Members of the Search Team

 

ken

Ken Clein - Chair, Treasurer

To be able to hold the care of the entire congregation in your heart.

These were the words our former interim minister, David Keys shared with the Leadership  Development Team, when asked about the qualifications for Board of Trustees candidates. I believe this qualification - to try and discern what is best for the Congregation, rather than a particular group or constituency - is vitally important to a successful search committee.

Everything we do is Ministry.

This was the lesson I was privileged to learn from our former senior minister the, Rev. Gail Geisenhainer. The way we treat each other is a form of ministry and embodies our covenant with each other.

Current Service: Rev. Lindasusan’s Ministerial Advisory and Support Team * Bass singer in the Chalice Singers * Designing Men’s Retreat T-shirt

Past Service: Board of Trustees President & Vice President * Food Gatherer’s Farm Project Volunteer * Annual Budget Campaign Canvasser * Leadership Development Team (LDT) Co-leader * Small Group Ministry (Chalice Circles) Pilot Team * Religious Education (SGD) Wing Architectural Design Committee * SGD Teacher: Grades 1-6 * Member since 1998.

 

 

mike

 Mike Halerz - Ministerial Search Web Site, Congregational Communications

 I’ve attended UUAA for about 15 years - it was, admittedly, a somewhat reluctant re-introduction to religion for me but I was initially drawn in by the services, the youth, the people, and that fact that my wife, Allison, dragged me here. I got involved in the 20s/30s group, started establishing deep friendships, and enjoyed attending as frequently as my schedule allowed. Our senior minister retired, there were several years of interim, and we called a new senior minister. Then for me, things really started to change. Allison was hired as the pianist-in-residence, I recorded the Chalice Singers’ first CD, I started doing more things behind-the-scenes, I helped with an upgrade to the audio system and running sound on Sundays. I occasionally had weeks where I was at church more days than Allison. We had a child.

Along the way, my reluctance has transformed into outright celebration for what we have and what we can be as a congregation. With our recent 150th anniversary, I was struck by what those that came before us have built. And that we are now the ones that shape the next 150 years of this congregation. For ourselves, for my child, for his grandchildren, and for yours. A dear friend that was on our last search committee told me that if I was ever presented with this opportunity, I should jump at the chance. So, I hope that my ability to listen deeply to others, to consider the needs and perspectives of those who are both like and unlike me, and my complete lack of ability to do anything halfway will serve the Ministerial Search Team well.

 

kate

Kate Hutchens - Listening Session Coordinator, Asst Treasurer, Hospitality, Reference Checker

I want to express a deep respect and abiding love for Rev. Gail. I believe that her presence in our pulpit and among our leadership significantly shaped not just my experience of church, but how I live in the world every day. I share this both to own the bias and admit it's not a universally held opinion, and also to assert my sense of the weight and potential lasting impacts of the work this search committee will undertake. I also have a deep respect and abiding love for this congregation, clergy entirely aside. I was actually drawn in to UUAA during the previous interim period, and not by any particular voice, but by encounters with you good folks endeavoring to live in service of love and asking me to dig in with you.

 Since joining in 2008, my UUAA resume includes: usher, Chalice Singer, handbell player, Library Team leader (~5 years), Alpha House regular volunteer, summer SGD teacher, 7th grade teacher, Coming-of- Age mentor, YRUU advisor (3.5 years), SGD parent, and Climate Action group leader.

I am a committed "process person," listener, and synthesizer, and I am confident in my ability to hear and advocate for the needs of the community. I take seriously the task of reckoning our opportunities and challenges so we can honestly and proudly represent our congregation to candidates. I am humbly honored to serve with all of the dedicated badasses on this Ministerial Search Team.

 

vilma

Vilma Mesa - Congregational Survey, Congregational Communications

I joined the congregation in 2001. I grew up in Bogotá Colombia. I am married to Pat Herbst and we have two children, Ana Sofia and Bruno. I have been involved in one thing or another since we started coming: In the nursery (when it was in what is the kitchen now), with all the pre-school to 5th grade classes, the Visitors’ Welcome, the nominating committee, the leadership development team, and the “celebration Sundays.” Currently I serve as a Soprano 2 in the Chalice Singers and as the liaison between parents, teachers, and mentors for the Coming of Age program.

I grew up Catholic in Bogotá Colombia and, even though I was quite active volunteering in orphanages, hospices, and under-resourced neighborhoods, I was not religious, and slowly drifted from Catholicism. The wakeup call came in the form of a mother’s friend who had become a bit fanatic. We realized we needed a place where we could be-- my husband a “recovering agnostic,” discovering his Jewish background, me disenchanted with Catholicism as lived in the US, and my children without any religious teaching. In Unitarian Universalism as lived here in this Ann Arbor congregation we found the space to explore, question, and grow our values and our sense of belonging to a cause that goes beyond ourselves. I see myself as a Unitarian Universalist with humanist-Judeo-pagan-with-a little-bit of-Christian hues.

It was with awe and humbleness that I received the invitation to serve in the ministerial search for our next growth phase and I agreed to serve with a tremendous sense of responsibility and excitement about what lies ahead. I pledge to listen, ask questions, seek to discern and understand the options that we will have, to represent our hopes for the future, and to do what I am asked to do. Thank you so much for this opportunity. Serving alongside these wonderful congregants on the Ministerial Search Team fills me with gratitude and joy.

 

tom

Tom Reischl - Congregational Survey, Negotiating Team, Neutral Pulpit Planner, BCT Coordinator

I have been an active member of the UUAA since 2002. Over the past 15 years, I served on the Annual Stewardship Committee for 3 years (2006-08), the Board of Trustees for nearly 4 years (2010-13), the Men’s Fellowship Council for 5 years (2011-13; 2016-17), and the Leadership Development Team for 2 years (2015- 2017). I have also participated in Adult SGD classes and served as a Coming-of-Age program mentor. Since joining the congregation, my most consistent involvement has been in the Men’s Fellowship activities, including Men’s Circles, retreats, dinners, and service projects.

Members of my family have also been active in various UUAA activities. My wife (Cathy Reischl) and I attend Sunday services regularly. She is active in a Women’s Circle and served on the Renewable Energy Committee that raised funds and installed our solar panels and wind turbine. Our children (Hannah & Charlie) attended SGD classes, completed the Coming-of-Age program, and participated in YRUU. Through our involvement in these activities, I have had many opportunities to build stronger connections with other congregants, to learn about my own and others’ spiritual journeys, and to deliberate on the core values and the developing capacity of our congregation.

My personal spiritual journey has taken a few interesting turns. I was raised and confirmed as a Catholic, attended a small Lutheran liberal arts college, and, as an adult, joined two Protestant churches (Presbyterian, United Church of Christ) before coming to the UUAA. My beliefs have been influenced by studying philosophy, theology, psychology and other social sciences in college and in graduate school. My career as a college professor and social scientist has shaped my appreciation of the diversity of human experience and my perspectives on political and social justice issues. The UUAA has been both a comforting and challenging spiritual space for me, but I believe that’s a good thing. I expect there are more interesting turns ahead for me.

I have never served on a minister search committee before. So I am both excited and a little intimidated by the task. I anticipate this committee will need to bring their best listening skills to bear and to learn how to discern and decide together. I believe the committee members will need to trust each other and the available supportive resources from the UUA and our congregation. I have pledged my best effort to help the committee build that trust and mobilize that support to conduct a successful search.

 

 

Leigh300

 

Leigh Robertson - Neutral Pulpit Planner, BCT Coordinator, Hospitality, Reference Checker

I have been a Unitarian Universalist since 1999. I joined the UUAA congregation in 2005, right after Reverend Ken Phifer retired. It was an adjustment coming into a larger church community but I found a spiritual home. During my 12 years here, I have been actively involved in Interweave, Sharing the Collection, the Strategic Planning committee, Coming of Age, YRUU, Congregation retreats, and most recently, the Newcomers Welcome.

 I bring experience to this role, because I was on the ministerial search committee in my UU congregation in Kalamazoo. I think my experience helps me understand the unique UU search process in this specific job description. We called our first settled minister and it felt similar to my feelings when Rev Gail was called here: JOY. Now that I have been a part of this congregation for 12 years, I know “us” fairly well. I will work democratically, looking through a social justice lens, to search for a minister who is a good fit for our congregation. It is an honor and a privilege to serve on the search team alongside the other members of this wonderful team.

 

 

 sandy

Sandy Simon- Ministerial Search Web Site, Congregational Record, External Communications, Web Support

 During my 35 years as a member of UUAA I have taken part in a very wide range of activities, from teaching R.E. (now called SGD) to serving twice on the Board. I have joyfully served on our congregation’s Habitat for Humanity team for over 17 years and I started up the UUAA web team in 1999.

I feel that deep listening is the key to a successful ministerial search and I have had both professional and UUAA experiences that have honed my listening skills. For most of my professional life as a software engineering analyst, I needed to listen to software customers and software managers, then translate their visions into specific requirements for new software products. At UUAA  I have been fortunate to have some very rich experiences that required a lot of listening and learning. I chaired the 2005-06 Appreciative Inquiry “Sankofa Squad” that interviewed almost everyone in the congregation about their proud moments with and hopeful visions for the Congregation. That work was used in many good ways and led to the creation of our UUAA Core Values. I served on both the 2011 and 2016 UUAA strategic planning teams, gathering vision from UUAA leaders to distill into strategic goals.

In co-chairing the 150th Anniversary celebrations in 2014-2015, I listened to a lot of this congregation’s history and gained a much deeper appreciation for the hopes this congregation held through the different periods of its long and storied history, I learned how UUAA has made a difference in the world and hope that we can continue looking for ways to be the change.

I will do my best to listen to the congregation’s wishes and translate them into a successful calling of our next settled Senior Minister. I look forward to the challenge and I am grateful for yet another great opportunity to work with and learn from some of the amazing members of UUAA.

 

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