June 14, 2023
May 16, 2023
A Letter from Rev. Victoria
My ministry at First Unitarian Church of Des Moines is drawing to a close, and I am writing with sadness and confident hope as you carry forward the beautiful work of this congregation: to grow your souls in community and serve the world in love.
I am grateful for the graceful luck that brought us together this year, and grateful for your forbearance with this ministry that was in so many ways far from ideal. Your congregation needs and deserves a minister who is in residence full-time, not commuting, not preaching on a screen remotely. Thank you for your patience with all this, and for welcoming me into your community.
I’ll be present with you on Sunday, June 4, when my sermon will be an “annual report” of sorts, sharing reflections on this year we’ve shared. My final Sunday service with you will be on June 11. My work here ends on June 15; please do reach out if you would like to meet on Zoom or in person, or to speak by phone, before then.
As you know, I’m sure, from past ministry transitions, the UUA and UU Ministers Association offer clear guidelines about leaving. I know that I will continue to serve you best, going forward, by stepping back entirely from contact with members and friends of the congregation. When your new Interim Minister arrives, and later, when a settled minister is called, I will be honored to sign a written covenant with each of them, assuring them my care for you is deep enough that I will respect this collegial and professional boundary. I’m sure similar covenants have been and will be in place with my beloved colleagues who have served you in the past, both as interim and settled ministers, whether in the lead role or as associates. Please know: for me, there is real grief in this, but there is also gratitude and joy, as I think of the life of your church flowing like a mighty river, from its powerful sources in 1877 through years and years to come. I will carry you in my heart, with love.
Together with the Board of Trustees and Interim Search Committee, I’m excited about the Interim Minister you’ll soon meet to companion you through the next two years. I’m working now with your staff team, lay leaders and the Board to ensure that Sunday services, pastoral care, rites of passage, and staff supervision will continue smoothly in the weeks between the end of my ministry on June 15, and the start of theirs on August 1. All will be well.
May compassion, trust and courage sojourn with us as we part. My prayer for you is one you know by heart, as I do, now, as well: Hallowed be each coming morning; calm and peaceful be each night.
With respect and gratitude, Victoria
February 3, 2023
Update from the Board of Trustees
After the board and members made suggestions, all those names were considered, and calls were made. Many who were contacted were unable to serve at this time. We are very fortunate that this Interim Search Team is comprised of long-time members and people who have had leadership roles before, as well as people currently in leadership. They are all compassionate, thoughtful, and represent many aspects of our congregation. What stands out to me is that each of these people has a strong commitment to First Unitarian, and all bring good skills to the table. They are Scott Clair, Crystal Loving, Elliott Nassif, Steve Herwig, Doug Aupperle, and Shelly Kaldenberg.
The team is taking some time to meet, get oriented, and determine their agenda and timeline. Soon after, a time will be announced when they will meet with the congregation to hear your comments and/or concerns.
January 26, 2023
Update from the Board of Trustees
The interim search process that I described in my letter last week includes two rounds of search. This means that the church in the search process posts their information in the UUA portal and there are two opportunities to have potential ministers apply to that posting.
Last year when we found ourselves in the place of needing to find an interim minister there was very little time to prepare and, in fact, we were well past the first round of applications. In the second round we received only one applicant. That applicant had offers from six different churches and we did not make the cut. In some ways we are in a similar situation this year in that we continue to be one church in many searching for an Interim from a pool that is not as large as the churches seeking.
What this means is we have to have an excellent team in place that has as much time as possible to craft a posting that is well written, as optimistic as possible, and accurately represents not just the wishes and desires of the congregation but as many cohorts of the congregation as possible in order to be fair to every member.
While it may seem we have “lots” of time this year to discuss and debate all phases of the process, the truth is it takes many weeks of reading and meeting in order to give the posting that is created the best representation of our church so we draw the interest of candidates that will serve the needs we convey.
I have asked Greg Nichols, board representative and very familiar with the Interim Search process, and Scott Clair, representative of the Right Relations team as well as experienced serving on the Interim Search team last year, to help assemble this team. They are both long-time members of the church as well as fair in their approach. I asked them to take all the recommendations submitted by church members into consideration and put together a team that can represent our entire congregation.
I ask you all to remember this is not a settled minister search and differs in that Interims are appointed by the board rather than voted on by the whole congregation. For the time remaining, I ask the congregation to trust that your board is interested in full representation, not only by asking the whole congregation for names to be considered for the team but by the opportunity you will have to speak with this team regarding what you believe are the most important talents, skills and experience relevant to our current needs.
Reba Eagles, Board of Trustees President