Monthly Archives: April 2014

Ministry Position Now Open

Museum_District-mapOpportunity of a Lifetime!

We are about to make UU history–  again. We are inviting a UU Minister to join our team–  at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston, Texas!

Houston, Texas is the 4th largest city in the United States. It’s a blue city in a red state with an out lesbian mayor. It has every kind of sports team, arts venue, and restaurant you can think of, and it is home to the largest medical center in the world. Have a spouse who needs work? Houston’s job growth is twice that of the nation.

Position: Minister (Assistant)

This is a full-time, ongoing position with recommended benefits. $45,000 starting salary in Geographic Wage Rate Area 3 (scale of 1-7, 1 = inexpensive).

Applications are being accepted now through the UUA Ministerial Settlement System or apply directly (cover letter, 1 page resume, 3 references) to doconnell -at- (Daniel O’Connell, senior minister). Your Adventure Begins–  August 1, 2014.

What we seek: A Leader & a Partner

  • A leader in our Administrative Team (which organizes social justice, pastoral care, membership, and other ministry projects).
  • A partner in our Creative Team (which puts together the Sunday Services and Adult & Children’s faith formation).

About You–

You are a Unitarian Universalist Minister in fellowship with the UUA.

  • You have a heart for pastoral care and an obvious spiritual depth to your life.
  • You’re comfortable working both independently and collaboratively.
  • You love meeting people “where they are” and helping them live out their faith (walk their talk) by nurturing their capacity for kindness and acting for justice.
  • You write and speak well in print and in social media.
  • It’s hard to be humble when you are as great as you are, but somehow you manage.

First UU Houston: Ministry Innovators

We are an active, mid-sized congregation that is breaking new ground in Unitarian Universalism.

  1. We are the first UU church to merge with two others (July 2013), to become One church in Three locations. Our Copperfield campus has about 50 adults; our Museum District campus, about 365; our Thoreau / Stafford campus, about 70 adults. You will work primarily in and with the Museum District campus.
  2. We developed the UU Creative Team approach to Sunday services and faith formation (for adults, and for children). This is a ground-breaking, collaborative approach to ministry.
  3. We are launching (Fall of 2014, and your ministry will take a lead role in) the Houston Area UU Rapid Response Network (involving all the UU’s in the Houston Metroplex).

The Staff Team of Mutual Success

Rev. Dr. Daniel O’Connell, senior minister (and life long UU), will be your supervisor. This means there is an expectation of commitment to each other’s success: Yes, I am committed to you being successful!

Rev. Bonnie Vegiard is the half time campus minister at our Thoreau / Stafford campus. We expect to be welcoming a part time campus minister for the Copperfield campus in August.

Carol Burrus, our Religious Educator, is an integral part of both the Creative Team and the Administrative Team, and takes an entrepreneurial approach to faith formation.

Dr. Jason Oby is our part time Music Director. He, along with Bob Fazakerly, organist, runs our music program. Grace Amborski assists as Administrative Assistant for Music.

Peggy Harvey is our extraordinarily capable 25+ year Administrator. Joining her are several fairly new Administrative Assistants, 2 sextons, and a Media Technician who expertly runs our audio & video program. We have several paid child care workers.

The Adventure

Be one of our Ministers and take the lead on pastoral care. Continue to support our excellent Care Team.

Learn about, then help lead our efforts in social justice and membership. Come in with an appreciative inquiry perspective, and an entrepreneurial heart.

About 2/3 of our members & friends are involved in social justice projects in an ongoing basis. You will be the ministry lead for this work.

You will also preach at each campus during the year. The Creative Team offers all of its members constructive support to build better sermons and services.

If this is you, let us know– Carpe Diem! Apply through the UUA Ministry Settlement System and/or contact the senior minister: doconnell -at-

UUA Presidential Search: What if it were more like church?

uuapscIn a post originally put on their blog, and later published at the uuWorld site here, the UUA Presidential Search Committee (UUAPSC) updates us on their process.

Which got me to thinking…

The UUAPSC has to come up with 2 candidates for UUA President, which means an automatic contested election.

The ‘winner’ will get one six year term (Section 9.5 of UUA Bylaws). Their nominees will be posted no later than February 1, 2016.

And self-nominations (which require a lot of congregational endorsements) can be made as early as March 1, 2016. The election will be in New Orleans in June 2017.

“Small …organizational meetings and mass mailing letters ” can begin “no earlier than November 1 of the 2nd year preceding the election. So, if the election is June 2017, and 2 years preceding the election is 2015, it means

UUA presidential campaign activity can start November 1, 2015.

The Committee notes that the UUA Prez has no coherent job description, so they’re working on that. They’re thinking about campaign finance limits, diversity of candidates– in other words– all the things YOU might think about if you were on the UUAPSC.

My cursory reading of the UUA bylaws suggests that they way I’ve thought of the UUA President is all wrong.

I’ve thought of the UUA President as being elected “by the people” and essentially independent of the UUA board, which is there– more or less– to provide a reality check to the grand vision casting of the President, and to support the administration at the same time.

However, it appears the UUA board could “fire” the President, pretty much on a whim: “Section 8.5. Removal of Officers”

The President may also be removed by such a vote of the Board if it determines that such removal is in the best interests of the Association.

I doubt you could find that in any UU minister’s letter of agreement. To me, it re-frames the relationship between the UUA President and the UUA board. And then I began thinking about the difference between the board-minister relationship in a church, and the board-executive relationship at the UUA. Which led me to the next question:

What if the UUA Presidential Search Committee process were conducted like a UU church Search Committee Process?

It would be the same Committee, but they would pick ONE candidate. The candidate would do what a minister normally does– meet with constituents all week. Preach at the beginning, and right before a “confirming vote.”

Everyone would understand the President works “for” the whole Association, but is ‘supervised’ by the board of trustees.

The board of trustees would understand their role– not as an adversary, not as a ‘counter balance’ a la American politics– but that their chief role would be to make sure the President was successful in carrying out the mission, vision, and values of the Association.

The UUA President, in turn, would do what she could to make sure the UUA board was successful.

This is exactly what many UU ministers and boards pledge to each other– but I’m not so sure that is how it has worked at the UUA level.

What do you think? Would our UUA Presidential Search Process be better if there was NOT an automatic election, with a “winner” and a “loser” in the process?