In the Middle: Our Five Interim Tasks

by Rev. Dr. Elaine Beth Peresluha

East Shore is entering the homestretch of your Settled Minister Transition. You are tired and ready to finish this work. The last three miles of any marathon are the hardest, and the most essential. This is a good time to review the work we have completed, and clarify the work still before us as we enter this interim home stretch.

Coming to Terms with History

You completed a timeline project, seeing your sixty plus years as a continuum. You clearly appreciate where you have been and are prepared to continue growth and change. You are able to incorporate the relevance of the past as you plan a future.

Discovering a New Identity

After integrating your history, you entered into a process to select your MSC and formed a mission statement. With your new mission statement as a foundation, you are clearer about your identity and able to have a consistent grounding for decision making and process. You identified Right Relations as an essential part of that identity and mission. Two workshops have engaged about 1/3 of the congregation in a right relationship process.

Allowing Needed Leadership to Emerge

Together we have clarified the multiple dimensions of leadership, both ordained and lay, paid and unpaid. The Board, staff and I have reviewed and tweaked governance, decision-making and a strategy for ongoing development of leadership. This is the most essential area for continued work. Trust in the governance structure and consistent adherence to that structure are signs of health and strength ministerial candidates will be looking for in their search for a new ministry.

Renewing Denominational Linkages

East Shore has made significant strides in renewing relationships with the regional congregations and the UUA. We are working to return to our Fair Share contributions and have increased our financial commitment to the region and UUA significantly this year.

Committing to New Directions in Ministry

This is the culminating awareness and possibility that comes from working through the other interim tasks. This is the bright and shining star to navigate by this coming year. It will lift your hearts and minds to appreciate that the reason for all our work is to recognize and attract a new settled minister to lead you towards the fulfillment of your dreams and vision.

Combining two significant initiatives in February and March will be decisive in marking East Shore’s readiness to welcome a new minister—the Operating Fund Drive and the selection of a new Ministerial Search Committee. An operating fund strong enough to assure fair compensation for a new minister, and an effective Ministerial Search Committee are the two most important goals to accomplish this spring. Both will be accomplished with one initiative, making individual contact by phone or in person with each and every member of East Shore. First, we want to inspire your generosity and assure financial strength by talking to each member and friend about considering ongoing monthly contributions to the operating fund. At the same time, we want to hear from every person who they would trust to represent them as an effective member of the Ministerial Search Committee. Members’ enthusiasm and engagement in these conversations as well as securing the necessary volunteers from leadership teams to make these contacts, are the essential factors signifying East Shore’s readiness to attract a new settled minister.

It is easy to give in to transition fatigue, or feel like this will never end. Remember my words from April 2016:

  • “I will probably do things you do not appreciate. I may tell you things you do not really want to hear. When I do, you can trust that I have no agenda other than your success and well being. …. The most important things to remember about our interim middle are:
  • It absolutely feels like it will be like this forever.
  • It absolutely will not be like this forever.
  • We have to be in the middle until we are not.”

Well done! … and Happy New Year!

Rev. Elaine