Minister Search: Current Status

From the Ministerial Search Committee:  Joani Nierenberg, Grace Alden, Kathy Christie, Leah Goat, Maureen McNulty, Bob Riccio, and  Mandy Ruest

May 23, 2018

Rev. Jan Hutslar was voted in as our new minister (beginning in July) on Sunday, May 20.  She was approved unanimously by the 76 voting members present.  

From the Board President, Lori Fortini:   Thank you to everyone who voted to call Rev. Jan Hutslar. The unanimous affirmative vote was a wonderful show of support for Jan.  The beautiful ceremony to welcome Jan into our congregation following the meeting was very special. A huge Thank you to Claudia Kern who planned the ceremony, Mary Shain who made the cake, and to everyone who helped with service and meeting on Sunday.  It is at times like this when I am the most proud of and the most grateful for our community.

May 9, 2018

The entire search committee, along with spouses Dave Nierenburg, and Darsie Riccio, daughter Liz Freeman, and CRE Sparrow Alden, traveled to Canton NY to attend the ordination of Jan Hutslar, our candidate for settled minister!  It was a marvelous weekend, filled with fellowship, food and new found friendship with the congregation that helped make Jan a minister.  If there was ever a reason to question whether Jan had the experience and foundation to be a source of strength for our congregation, it was vaporized by the outpouring of accolades that we heard from her old congregation.​

Every single person we met started their conversation with the words, “You are so lucky to have her!”  You could see by the light in their eyes that the sentiment was heartfelt, for although Jan is only now being ordained, she has been in a leadership position in the Canton church for over 16 years.  She was much beloved by the parents and children as the director of Religious Education, and she grew to be a much larger influence when the co-ministers retired and the church went into a period of flux.  Much as our Sparrow stepped up to fill our pastoral care, administrative and service needs when our interim minister Lee Devoe became ill, Jan took on many ministerial duties when the Canton congregation was without a settled minister.  I was told by several people that she was the glue that held their church together for over three years, before they found their present minister.  They felt so strongly about her gift for ministry that they pushed her to follow her calling, and supported her both emotionally and financially while she attended divinity school, ultimately ordaining her as a minister, even though they knew she would have to then leave them to go minister somewhere else.  Aren’t we lucky that she has chosen to come to us!

It was a privilege to attend such a solemn, reverent and joyous ceremony and to be part of this pivotal transition in Jan’s life.  It was also a unique opportunity to meet some of the many people who call Jan a close friend.  And there were many of them – the large church was packed!  They all spoke of Jan’s strength of character, spiritual grounding, and above all, the love that shines out of her and lights up everyone she touches.

Next week, you will get to meet her yourself!  Candidate week starts off with a bang on Sunday, May 13th with the Sunday service led by Jan, followed by a question/answer session then a potluck lunch in the sanctuary.  What a great way to celebrate Mother’s Day!  You know the food and fellowship are always good and plentiful for visitors and members alike!

April 4, 2018

The Search Committee is delighted to announce that we have found a candidate!  We enthusiastically and wholeheartedly endorse Jan Hutslar for the position of minister to the UUCUV congregation.  She is a bright shining star and a delightful human being.  We believe she has the spiritual grounding and vision to bring the UUCUV forward to our next level of spiritual growth and community.  

Jan is new to ministry, having just completed her Master of Divinity in 2017, but she has extensive experience with Unitarian Universalism and brings with her fresh new perspectives and enthusiasm.  Jan served as the Director of Religious Education for the UU church of Canton, NY for over a dozen years.  During that time, her church went through a six-year transition, during which she was called upon to expand her role in the church to fill the needs of the congregation.  She is greatly beloved by her congregation.  In fact, they encouraged her to pursue her call to ministry and raised the money to support her through divinity school. They will be ordaining her as a UU minister on May 5th 

Jan also has a lot of life experience.  She has worked as an environmental educator and a historical interpreter. She is the mother of an adult daughter who is attending graduate school at Northeastern University in Boston.   Jan built her energy efficient home in upstate New York and raises her own food.  She loves to hike, bike, cross country ski, kayak, and swim, and is super excited to explore the Upper Valley and find all of its secret treasures! 

We invite you to explore Jan’s website at:   

Then we invite you to meet her in person!  Jan will be visiting the UUCUV from May 12-20, during which time she will be conducting two Sunday services, attending board meetings, participating in committees, sharing potluck meals with us, taking hikes on the Spirit in Nature Path, and meeting with congregants in every venue we can think of so that everyone has the opportunity to meet her and chat and experience what a wonderful minister she will be for us. 

On May 20, following her second Sunday Service, the congregation will vote upon whether we will call Jan to be our full-time settled minister.  We must have over 50% of our members participating in the vote in order to call her, and over 90% of those present must support her ministry.   So please, mark your calendars and keep these dates open as your vote is needed in this momentous decision!  


March 14, 2018

The Search Committee has completed its interviewing process and we are unanimous and very happy in our thinking!   However, we are part of a search system involving many UU ministers and congregations, and for some of them the process is still playing out, so we must wait until the end of March to find out if we have a match.  If we have a match, then we  will be able to schedule the critical Candidating Week. Your patience is so helpful, because the wait is killing us, but soon we will know what steps we will take forward. Thank you again for your understanding and enthusiasm in this wonderful journey!

March 8, 2018

The Congregational Record is complete, the private search website is up, eleven Ministerial Records have been read and reread, countless recorded sermons have been viewed, websites have been scoured, six phone interviews were completed, 3 precandidates were selected, and our third precandidate weekend, wherein we host a prospective minister for a full weekend of interviews, tours, casual conversations and Sunday service at a neutral pulpit, is done! It has been quite an undertaking. We learned so much about each of the applicants, and about the diverse ways in which one can bring the spirit of Unitarian Universalism alive. It will be such a pleasure to bring some of this information back to the congregation.

In the coming weeks, Search Committees and prospective ministers will be submitting their prioritized choices to the UUA Transitions Office. On March 29, we will know if we have a match. At the time of this writing, we are optimistic that we will be able to present a truly outstanding candidate to the congregation for consideration. We certainly have done our best to represent the UUCUV as an amazing group of people with which to work and the Upper Valley as a glorious place to live. Hopefully, our choice for candidate will agree!

Members of the congregation began this process alongside the Search Committee in cottage meetings, continued with us in the Beyond Categorical Thinking workshop and in filling out the Survey. But the most important part of your participation is during Candidating Week, when everyone will meet and get to know the candidate chosen by the Search Committee. The vote we all take at the end of that week is critical. We need as many members present and voting as possible. Searching ministers need to feel the strong, almost unanimous support of the congregation that chose them, so their ministry can begin on an excellent footing. If the congregation in their collective wisdom does not reach a high percentage vote, the candidate may well decline our invitation. This sometimes happens, and then we would need to consider options for the next steps. However, we are anticipating that the congregation will be as excited about the candidate as we are and the membership will joyously and overwhelmingly vote in favor of calling the candidate to be our full time minister!

Feb. 7, 2018

We have begun the precandidating phase of our search.  During this phase, we host a few specially selected ministers for a weekend each in the Upper Valley. We wine and dine them (okay, have a potluck!), give them a tour of our beautiful community, conduct a formal interview and have many conversations. Finally, we listen to them conduct a full Sunday Service at a neutral pulpit.
We are delighted with how much information we are able to ascertain by this process and are confident we will be able to make an informed decision when the time comes.
Jan. 24, 2018

It has been an incredibly exciting week for the Search Committee! After reviewing 11 Ministerial Records, scouring the same number of websites and watching sermon after sermon on You Tube, we narrowed our search to 6 individuals with whom we conducted phone/video interviews. It was terrific to “meet” them via the wonders of technology! They all had a lot going for them, but three stood out as potentially having that special something that might make them a great fit with our congregation. We have invited these three to meet the search committee in person for several in-depth conversations and interviews, and tours of our Meetinghouse and the community. As we have explained, the Search Committee still needs to guard the absolute privacy of identity and process of these precandidates, so they will have no contact with the congregation.

New Ministerial Records are still coming in, and we will vet each as they arrive, but for now we are very happy that we have three strong prospects!