The Ministerial Search Committee (MSC) was approved at the Annual Congregational Meeting on Sunday, June 4, 2018, to take on the task of searching for, interviewing and selecting a new settled minister for First Unitarian Church of Des Moines.

Click here to find their contact information.
Click here to read more about their roles on the Committee and the MSC’s relationship to the Board of Trustees, Interim Minister, Staff, Transition Team, Councils and Congregation.

Chelsea Hayes

Chelsea spent the years of her youth at First Unitarian and became familiar with the ministerial search process that called Rev. Mark Stringer to our church. Between then and now, she was a member of First Unitarian Church in Greensboro, NC, where she was active in small group ministry, the arts committee, and served on the council to the minister. Now in Des Moines, Chelsea teaches elementary art and volunteers her time at her school and her children’s schools. As an educator, she has worked with small groups of people on a common goal, and has served on numerous interview boards for fellow colleagues.

Chelsea and her husband, Eric, became members of First Unitarian four years ago, where she serves on the Faith Formation Council, fills in for Faith Formation teachers from time to time, and helped to create and launch the Play UU family group that meets monthly at church on Saturday mornings. She also served as a facilitator for the first round of cottage meetings. Chelsea says she will “help to maintain a balance of the needs and wants of adults and youth in the church. I am a believer in moving forward, I embrace change, and I remain optimistic.”

Hilary Hippen-Leek

Hilary joined First Unitarian in 2014 and has jumped in with both feet since then. She served as a co-facilitator of the Fabulously Fun Food Fair Fundraiser (2015-17), was a Facilitator during the 2015 Ends Statement Workshops, facilitated Soul Matters, Wellspring and Spirit in Practice, was a member of the Stewardship Team (2016-18), and has volunteered with Family Promise. She is now a Lay Pastoral Care Associate on the newly formed Pastoral Care Team.

Hilary’s ability to jump into these volunteer roles stems from her proven record as a leader and a team-player. She has extensive experience managing projects, events, time, people and expectations. Her written and oral communication skills, along with her ability to analyze challenges and evaluate options will make her an asset to the Ministerial Search Committee.

Darin Jensen

Darin and his wife, Sara, began attending First Unitarian in 2016, and officially joined in 2017. Along with serving on a hospitality crew, he has hosted a Food Fair event, led the UU All Read book discussion, and volunteered as a Family Promise driver.

Darin has served on several academic hiring committees, including full- and part-time faculty and Dean Searches. He has also served on several national and conference boards for college writing, composition and communications.

Board, taskforce, and committee experience required an attention to detail, consensus building, and deep listening necessary in a purpose-driven group and Darin will help bring those qualities to the Ministerial Search Committee.25

Greg Nichols

Greg and his wife, Dawn Connett, joined First Unitarian at the beginning of Rev. Mark Stringer’s ministry with First Unitarian. Since then, he has served on the Board of Trustees (including Board President), as a member of the Council for Congregational Ministries, on the Room to Bloom Capital campaign, as a co-leader on the Vision Quest physical facilities needs working group, as an Endowment Investment Committee member, as a volunteer on several Stewardship/Pledge drives, as a moderator at First Unitarian annual meetings, a delegate to UUA General Assembly, and a participant of multiple regional training/meeting activities.

Greg has also served on numerous community boards and committees. As a trained educator, a trained mediator, and a doctoral-level qualitative researcher, Greg’s personality is to be respectful, patient, and seek points of agreement, not conflict, in group activities. Greg says “My understanding of the process our Congregation is embarking on is that the best outcome will be a clear consensus of our membership in support of the ultimate recommendation. If that is correct, then my skills, experience, and personal characteristics may be relevant and useful.”

Patty Notch

Patty and her wife, Meg, have been members of First Unitarian since 2011. She has taught Religious Education, contributed to a Wednesday night dinner team, was involved with a Building Usage Review committee, and is a past Celebrant Team member. For several years, Patty participated on the Party Planning committee for the church’s annual Halloween and Holiday parties.

In the community, Patty serves as a Family Peer Support Specialist at Woodward Community Based Services, and volunteers at shelters around Des Moines. She has served on various Bar Association committees, provided pro bono legal work/services, and volunteered at schools through PTA and the “Let’s Talk” mediation program.

Patty’s twenty-six years as a practicing attorney has contributed to her abilities to be objective, open-minded, flexible, organized, efficient, and she is well-versed in maintaining confidentiality. She has experience relating to people from all walks of life – persons of all races, genders, education levels and socioeconomic status.

Margaret Schultz

Margaret seeks out and thrives in leadership roles. Since joining First Unitarian over six years ago, she has served on the Board of Trustees (President, from 2013-14), was the Chair of Linda Barnes’ Intern Committee, was a member of the Celebrant Team for two years, facilitated a Sharing Circle for new members, served on the Endowment Committee since 2014 (and current chair), and was a member of the Interim Minister Search Committee. Margaret also volunteers with Planned Parenthood and the Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens.

From 1997 to 2001, Margaret was a member and President of the Board at the UU Society of Stamford, CT, when the church went through the ministerial search process. While not on that search committee, she became aware of issues and concerns regarding the process that may undermine the search if they are not addressed or resolved. Margaret also served as the Treasurer of the Metro NY UU District for two years.

Margaret says “The Search committee has a fiduciary responsibility to the congregation. As a member of the committee I must be aware and understand the needs of the various demographics within our congregation and be guided accordingly.” She also believes that “communication is critical – membership needs to understand the role of the Board and Search Committee and how their voice is represented in this process.”

Tim Wilson

Although Tim became a member of First Unitarian Church of Des Moines in 2015, his membership and participation in UU Congregations dates back to 1988, and has volunteered in many aspects of church life, including ministerial and staff relations, Stewardship campaigns, Board of Trustees, worship committees, bylaws revision committees, social justice committees, and hospitality teams. From 2006-2008, Tim was a half-time Social Justice Coordinator at First Unitarian Church of Rochester, NY. Last June at our Annual Congregational Meeting, Tim was elected to a 3-year term on the Endowment Committee. He hosted a Connections Party in February, and also volunteers to help prepare meals for Family Promise.

Among his staff and volunteer roles in previous congregations, Tim has helped found non-profit organizations in Rochester, Cedar Rapids, and Des Moines (Home Forward Iowa, his current employer). He has served on the Iowa Council on Homelessness since 2012.

Tim’s experience in non-profit program management and with group collaboration will contribute to the ministerial search process. Tim says that what he brings to all of his endeavors is his “insistence on ensuring the inclusion of meaningful input from those being served by the process.”