March Update on Ministerial Search

March Update on Ministerial Search

Save the Dates: April 24—May 1: Meet and vote for the Candidate Minister

If we reach a mutual decision with a candidate minister in April then they will lead the worship services at East Shore on April 24 and May 1. On May 1 the congregation will have the opportunity to vote to affirm them as our new Minister immediately after the worship service.

The Hopeful Home Stretch

Our Search for a new Settled Minister for East Shore is drawing toward its close. We are halfway through our pre-candidating period of February and March, during which time, each of our precandidates will spend significant time over a weekend meeting with the Search Committee, learning more about East Shore, relaxing over shared meals, participating in more in-depth interviews, and giving a sermon at a Neutral Pulpit. Beyond the fact the precandidate process is currently ongoing according to plan, everything else about the process is entirely confidential.

By the end of this month, we surely hope to have selected the minister we believe is the best fit to lead our congregation into the future. If that minister were to be mutually inclined, we would announce the candidate to the congregation in the first part of April. Then the candidate would visit us for 8 days, scheduled for April 24-May 1. They would be on campus to meet our congregation and lead a service at either end of their time. Immediately after that last service, the congregation would vote on calling them to be our next settled minister.

Should the congregation vote to affirm the calling of our new minister, the Women’s Perspective ministry team will be compiling a binder wherein our members and friends can each introduce themselves in their own words. As always, we will provide an update in the next Beacon. Meanwhile, you are welcome to contact us by emailing [email protected]

Our Search So Far, By The Numbers

We thought it might interest you to see some of the numbers we’ve gathered from our congregation and the UUA.

  • 357: members of East Shore Unitarian Church
  • 7: number of Ministerial Search Committee members
  • 1: number of MSC retreats
  • 20 (since September when Julie joined): number of chalices we have lit during our MSC meetings since our first meeting – not counting the cottage meetings, focus groups, minister interviews, etc.
  • 85: members and friends who took the Ministerial Search survey.
  • 4: cottage meetings for East Shore members and friends
  • 14: focus groups for East Shore members and friends
  • 48: participated in the BCT workshop.
  • 24,011: Words used to capture the history, character and desires of our church in our Congregational Record
  • 24: UUA congregations in search for a full-time settled minister this year; 2 of those in Washington.

May our hearts be open, our minds keen, and our spirits welcoming as we evaluate all our potential next ministers and move to our final number — One — our new settled minister.

Welcoming the New Minister

Let’s welcome our new minister with a binder filled with pages which introduce ourselves to the minister in our own words! These contributions could be a huge help as the new minister gets to know their new flock. Women’s Perspective has created a form that will be useful and you may add your own narrative and photos as well. We will announce when the form becomes available. Ultimately the binder, both in physical and electronic forms, will be presented to the minister for their private use in getting to know us. Completing this small project is, of course, entirely optional but as a gift of sharing ourselves, we hope you will participate.

by David Langrock, Ministerial Search Team

March Update on Ministerial Search

February Ministerial Search Update

We have precandidates – But “mums” the word! 

On January 2, the UUA Transitions Office released the names and Ministerial Records of the ministers who submitted applications to become the next Settled Minister at East Shore. Although we cannot share anything about the applicants, we thoroughly read their records, combed through their websites, listened to and watched their sermons, and researched their social media presence. The work was truly inspiring!

Together we discussed our ratings of each candidate in a number of areas important to East Shore and chose those with whom we conducted one-hour live team interviews over zoom. In addition, we checked references. On January 22, we deliberated and picked our top choices for precandidates. On January 23, we contacted them directly and to our delight, we got prompt confirmations of their willingness to move forward with us!

During February and March, each of our Precandidates will spend time over a weekend meeting with the Search Committee, learning more about East Shore, participating in more in-depth interviews, and giving a sermon at a Neutral Pulpit.  The precandidate process is entirely confidential.  Search Committee members will not provide any information about these candidates or the neutral pulpits.  Part of the reason for confidentiality is that ministers generally do not inform their current congregations they are leaving until they have an offer from another congregation.

During March we will have the difficult job of selecting the minister we feel is the best fit to lead our congregation into the future.  If the minister is mutually inclined, we would announce the candidate to the congregation in the first part of April.  Then the candidate will visit us for 8 days, already scheduled for April 24-May 1.   Back up dates are May 1-8. They will be on campus to meet our congregation and lead a service at either end of their time.  Immediately after that last service, the congregation will vote on calling them to be our next settled minister.

We will provide an update in the next Beacon.  Meanwhile, you are welcome to contact us by emailing [email protected].

Review of Completed Steps Toward a Settled Minister

  1. Minister Search Committee (MSC) is voted in by the East Shore’s congregation – June 2021
  2. MSC retreat with Transitions Coach – August 2021
  3. Congregational Survey – September 2021. This helps ministerial candidates get a feel for who we are and helps guide the MSC in selecting a settled minister.
  4. Cottage and Focus Group Meetings – September/October 2021   At these small group meetings, the MSC listens to the congregation’s concerns, hopes and dreams.
  5. Beyond Categorical Thinking: a workshop to enhance our congregation’s inclusive thinking and prevent unfair discrimination in our search – October 2021
  6. Neutral Pulpits selected, where ministerial candidates will preach – October 2021
  7. Complete Congregational Record and supporting documents – detailed summary of congregation’s history, present and future aspirations based on information collected from the Congregational Survey, Cottage Meetings, and Focus Group Meetings – December 2021
  8. Congregational Record available for review by ministerial candidates – December 2021
  9. Ministerial candidates submit their Ministerial Records to MSC – January 2022
  10. MSC researches the Ministerial Records, minister websites, and listens to sermons.   Virtual interviews are conducted.    Reference checks are done. – January 2022

by David Langrock, member of the Ministerial Search Committee

What is the Bylaws Task Force Doing?

What is the Bylaws Task Force Doing?

Remember when the Bylaws Task Force was created  back in the spring of 2021? We were empowered by the Policy and Governance (P&G) Committee to look at ALL of East Shore’s Bylaws AND Articles of Incorporation to ensure that they are up-to-date, comply with Washington State Law, conform to UUA standards, and are useful and easy to understand.

This past December we learned that the Washington state laws for Articles of Incorporation have also changed extensively so their review was added to our plate. The Articles are a foundational document required by state law in order for East Shore to exist. IF changes are made to them, they must be approved by the congregation. Bylaws flow from the Articles of Incorporation and also require congregational approval.

Some Bylaw changes were approved by the Congregation in June 2020 and October 2021. Our aim is to present all the proposed changes to the Congregation at its June 2022 Annual Meeting following a comprehensive review by an attorney and approval by the Board. This rather aggressive timeline may need adjustment as the project unfolds. The P&G Committee’s Task Force includes Grace Colton, Marcy Langrock, Rebecca Chatfield, Ryam Hill and Mary Anderson.

By the end of February 2022, the Bylaws Review Task Force will have received templates and other written information about new Washington state requirements for East Shore’s Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation. Their arrival will kick off a period of detailed work for the Task Force.

Recently, the task force has been identifying and exploring issues around two bylaw topics: changing the church’s Fiscal Year to be January to December and the Membership section of the Bylaws. We are talking with groups and people who have historical knowledge and/or are currently engaged in these areas:

Fiscal Year

Many times over the years Board Treasurers and the Finance Team have asked to consider moving to a calendar year budget cycle and we are looking at it again. The Task Force has consulted with the Finance Team, Financial Stewardship, Director of Finance & Operations, Director of Religious Education, the Auction Team, and the staff Mission Fund Drive leader, Nicole Duff fto explore the pros and cons of a change.

Membership

For the Membership portion of the Bylaws, we have had discussion with Membership Director Nicole and reviewed the UUA guidelines on:

  • moving the details of qualifications for membership to policies and replacing them with general statements so our bylaws become more comprehensive with easier to adjust, more specific policies.
  • revising the current qualifications for membership.
  • moving the details of resignation and removal from membership to policies and replacing them with a general statement so our bylaws become more comprehensive with easier to adjust, more specific policies.

There are other Bylaw topics to be explored that will be reported on in future articles.

How can you be involved?

  • Your participation is crucial in this project! The Bylaws Task Force wants your suggestions, comments, and questions. These will help guide us in our work. The earlier in the process we receive your thoughts, the more thoroughly they can be addressed before voting. If you have comments about the above issues or any aspect of this work, email [email protected] or any other member of the Task Force. We want to hear from you.
  • There will be additional Town Halls, e-blasts, and Beacon articles through the year to let you know what’s up. The Task Force counts on your review. Members are connected to East Shore through its Bylaws and are empowered to approve or reject changes and updates.
  • Watch an introductory video HERE about the Bylaws Project.
  • You can read our current Bylaws HERE and Policies HERE.
March Update on Ministerial Search

Re-Opening: A Whole New Sunday

It was March 15, 2020 when we first closed the Sanctuary on Sunday and moved entirely online. It seems like a lifetime ago, and also just like yesterday. We have been working hard to make changes in preparation of re-opening and welcoming back everyone. We have slowly opened out doors to small groups and our grounds have seen the children return for Religious Education Outdoors on Sundays. The Board voted in November for the staff to open on January 23 and to require vaccines for Sunday activities (worship, RE, coffee hour, etc.). Since then, we have been working with Board members who will volunteer to do these checks. We wanted to be very transparent on how this will work so you can be part of East Shore in the way that feels most comfortable to you.

Mourning the Loss

As churches across the country have begun to reopen, a recurring theme is heard: “It’s not the same.” We know, no matter how excited we are to see one another and return to “normal,” we need to change our view of “normal!” What are you most excited about? Being in the Sanctuary? Coffee? Seeing people? Hugs? Singing? Some of those things will return on January 23, others will come later… and some aspects of Sunday mornings will never be the same again. They are new and improved! We will continue to offer multiple ways for people to participate, both in person and over Zoom (Thanks to ACE, Joseph Newman and Jenny Newell for spending hours figuring this out!). This is a great way to continue to be more welcoming and inclusive. Change is hard, and sometimes, the transformation is even better.

Vaccine Checks

We are trying to be safe and make sure we keep a sense of welcoming. On Sundays, the buildings will be for vaccinated verified people only.

Volunteers, fully organized by the Board, will be at a table in the courtyard area. Members/Visitors will show their vaccine cards as a real card, a photo on their phone, or a QR code from their myhealthchart, clear, or the WA DOH website. We encourage the paper cards as that will be fastest.

Those individuals who are cleared will get a neon green sticker that says “Vaccinated.” This will go on your badge (so if you took that home, time to find it!). In following weeks, those who have a sticker can just show the sticker and continue in the sanctuary. Those who do not have proof will be directed to speak to Nicole.

Stay tuned for opportunities to stop by the church to get your sticker before January 23!

What Should We Be Paying Attention To?

Let’s focus on these new “Key Principles for Reducing Potential Exposures” in our church home:

  • Stay home if you’re sick! (keep visiting us online and call us for help!)
  • Get Vaccinated! (and boosted!)
  • Wear Masks! (all the time!)
  • Dance, don’t sing! (get that body moving!)

Virtual Worship: What Will Change

For the most part, those joining by Zoom won’t notice much of a difference. We will still put words in chat, have virtual coffee hour with breakout rooms and stream from the Sanctuary. What will be different? Joys and Sorrows. Due to the complicated nature of multi-platform sharing, we will ask that joys and sorrow only be put in the chat, so they can still be shared. The staff is also working on contingency plans. In October we got a taste of what could happen if we lose power or internet in the Sanctuary. We were able to jump back on, and Steve and Eric did a great job of jumping back in… however when we are doing multi-platform we need to ensure both in-person and virtual congregants have a good experience. Please bear with us if this happens, we are hoping having a contingency plan means we will never have to use it.

In Person: What to expect

Those coming to campus to worship will have a whole new experience… that will change over time as more and more people get vaccinated and we SLOWLY return to larger gatherings.

After being checked for your vaccine status, you will be welcomed into the Sanctuary (want to volunteer to be an usher or greeter? Talk to Nicole!) All congregants MUST wear a mask any time they are in a building on campus. The ONLY exception are individuals speaking from the podium, and only while they are speaking (Rev. Furrer, Eric Lane Barnes, amanda, Worship Associate, etc.).

On Sunday, the back doors will be open, this is to help for airflow. We remind you that Pacific Northwesterners know how to dress for the weather, so we are confident you will dress warmly. You are also welcome to bring a blanket.

We will have some paper copies of the bulletin, we will also have a QR code (like what you see at restaurants to get the menu) where you will be able to pull up the bulletin on a phone or tablet. We will also have children’s activity bags.

Seats in the Sanctuary will be grouped, some in pairs and some larger groupings for families. We ask you to please take a seat in the proper size grouping and not to move chairs. We have set the chairs up to be socially distanced. For the time being the balcony will be closed. This is so the ACE team, who has been working so hard to set up the cameras and sound, can work in that space. We hope, as restrictions lessen, we can reopen that part of the Sanctuary for our members and friends.

One thing you may notice right away is a change in how we use the screen. We will be projecting Zoom on the screen during the service. This allows us to turn on closed captioning (making the service accessible to even more people), share videos, and still have some participation by those zooming in. This does mean words to hymns and responses will not be on the screen. They will be in the bulletin, and hymnals (including large print and braille) are available as well. We have also been informed by medical professionals that, unfortunately, singing – even while masked – is VERY high risk. Because of that, we are going to ask the congregation to not sing along to the hymns. We are looking at ways where you can still interact with the hymns (clapping, arm movements, etc.).

For joys and sorrows for those in person, we will bring back the cards in the southwest corner. Please take time to write out your joy or sorrow which will be collected and read from the pulpit.

For the offering, there will be a number of choices. You can still give online, text, or you can donate cash or check. Because the chairs will be spaced 6 feet apart (except for same households), we will have boxes in the back of the sanctuary for people to place gifts in as they exit.

In Person Coffee Hour

For those wanting to stay for coffee hour, we will have it! Because of masking, all food and beverages must be consumed outside. The North Room will be closed, so you will exit out the main doors into the courtyard. We will have several spaces, including some with heaters during the colder months. Snacks at coffee hour have been individually wrapped treats, we will continue this for now. If you would like to help set up coffee hour or organize, contact Nicole.

In Person Religious Education for Children & Youth

All of these plans are relevant to RE as well, and children and families will be going through all of these processes along with adult members of the congregations. Children will be getting name badges for their vaccine stickers too (and so you can get to know them!).

Those under five will either be accompanied by a vaccinated caregiver or in the care of vaccinated volunteers or RE staff.

There will be some separate registrations for RE classes, as typical for OWL and Coming of Age.

All of our rooms are being marked by Dianne Upton at 50% room capacity.

Practicing Consent and Compassion

Part of being a beloved community is respecting others and showing compassion. During this transition we as asking for an increase in both of these.

We need to acknowledge everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to risk. Some are so excited to get back in person they will do all they can to stay safe AND in person. Others are not ready and may not be ready for a while. Please remember, these are your fellow East Shorians and we want to respect people’s decisions on how they participate in worship.

We also want to talk about hugging, handshakes, high fives, etc. As we teach our youngest children in Our Whole Lives (OWL), consent is very important. Even those friends who you may have always shared a hug with before may not feel up to it yet. Let’s show our children and each other we understand consent. Before hugging, please ask… AND be prepared to hear “no.” This includes members of the staff. We all love you… and we want to stay safe too.

We look forward to seeing you all (or those ready to be in person) on January 23, and hope those still moving toward that online!

by Nicole Duff, Rev. Dr. Stephen H. Furrer, amanda alice uluhan & Rebecca Chatfield

Nominating Committee: Is East Shore Important To You?

Nominating Committee: Is East Shore Important To You?

Is East Shore important in your life? Can you give some of your time and energy in service to this community? Are you interested in learning more about leadership positions that might match your skills? If so, we invite you to have an exploratory, no-pressure conversation with one of us on the Nominating Committee. Even if you just know someone else whom you think should be in leadership — the Nominating Committee wants to hear from you with your suggestions.

We invite all members who are willing and able to give a part of themselves to serve in leadership roles at this church. You don’t have to be a long-time member and you don’t have to have special experience. You do need to have a genuine interest in the well-being and future of this church, and a willingness to listen deeply, and with respect, to people who may not share your opinion. The Nominating Committee wants to learn more about you, to discover what skills and life experiences you have, then match you up with potential opportunities to serve on the Board or in one of our many terrific teams and committees.

Check out the job descriptions here.

We’ve made it easy to express your interest and set up an initial, no-pressure conversation with someone from the Nominating Committee. Simply do any one of the following:

  • Fill out one of the Learn More / Indication of Interest form on the website
  • Send an email to [email protected]
  • Talk to any member of the Nominating Committee (Marcy Langrock, Sheridan Botts, Leta Hamilton, Ann Carlstrom, or Ryam Hill)

Your church needs you to take us into the future! Please complete the Learn More/Indication of Interest form online or contact us by any of the other means listed.

by Ryam Hill, chair, Nominating Committee

Search Committee Releases Congregational Record

Search Committee Releases Congregational Record

UPDATE: Dear Beloved East Shore Community,

On December 2nd we published our 70+ page Congregational Record to the congregation, and on December 4th the Search Committee joined the Board Listening Meeting to hear members’ thoughts. While we were gratified to hear so many folks share their general appreciation for the Record, we were also grateful for those who shared their reactions to the specific responses. One response in particular struck several of those who came as having an inaccurate and biased narrative  about a past event at East Shore.  This was on page 52 of the Record in response to the question “Ways the congregation handles conflicted situations”. Those same folks also expressed being hurt by reading this part of the Report.

The Search Committee met and determined that the passage in question was problematic. Specifically, we agreed that it had a factual error. In addition, on rereading the passage with new perspective, we agreed that it should have been written in a more representative and neutral manner.  We decided that the passage needn’t have been so specific in the first place.

Here is the corrected version (now on pages 53-54) in the Congregational Record.

While we remain confident of the Congregational Record as a whole, the Search Committee regrets publishing our original response to that question, and we apologize for the hurt that it caused some of our members.  We have retracted the original response and improved the Congregational Record to more truly represent East Shore. We wish to thank the Right Relations facilitators who have supported us and some of the aggrieved to stay in community and hear each other’s truths.

We, as a Search Committee, remain as excited as ever about the future that lays ahead. In January we will be reviewing applicants and beginning the three-month selection process for our hoped-for future settled minister. As always, you are welcome to email us at  [email protected] .

Sincerely, East Shore Ministerial Search Committee:  Dave Baumgart, Martin Cox, Leta Hamilton, Julie Heise, Connie Hirnle, Ann Fletcher, David Langrock.

***********************************************

On December 2nd, the UUA (UUA is Unitarian Universalist Association, a support organization which all recognized UU congregations belong to) approved our Congregational Record. It is a report that every congregation seeking a new settled Minister must build. The record is based on over 60 prompts provided by the UUA. Among these prompts, some required straight-forward responses, such as the names and positions of our staff and board. However, most of them required a great deal of research, compilation and editing.

And so, the team spent many dozens of hours in November to put it together. In some cases, we solicited input on historical and operational areas from the board and staff. But in the majority of the cases we summarized specific aspects of what we learned about the congregation. Specifically, our aspirations, accomplishments, joys, concerns, needs, reasons for being here and desires for growth. For these, we consulted all of our findings from the Congregational Survey, the Cottage Meetings, the Beyond Categorical Thinking workshops, and Focus Groups.

In the end, the completed Congregational Record is roughly 70 pages long! We submitted it to the UUA during Thanksgiving week and we have the pleasure now to share it with you.

On December 4 at 10am, many members of the Ministerial Search Committee will be on hand at the Monthly Board Listening Session to hear your thoughts feedback on the Congregational Record. You can find the zoom link for that meeting on Members Portal page.