Calling Your Minister — An Update from Rev. Nicoline

Many of you participated in conversation sessions held late during the month of May on the topic of the “Contract to Call” process. Currently, I serve the UUFP as a contract minister. This means that every spring, your board and I enter into conversation regarding whether or not to renew my yearly contract. Contract ministry allows both the congregation and the minister the flexibility of deciding whether to prolong or to discontinue the relationship from one year to the next. It sets a temporary frame around the relationship.

In contrast, when a congregation “calls” its minister — and the minister accepts — it signifies that both parties are ready to enter into a more enduring commitment. There’s still a yearly reflection process around goals, challenges, successes and areas requiring new energy, but the framework is the shared commitment of two partners (congregation and minister), each equally invested in the congregation’s life and its future.

What I’ve heard is that you, the congregation, seem to be very interested in transforming our relationship in this way, which ultimately would require holding a vote on the question of calling me as your minister. Thank you for your vote of confidence!

I, too, would very much be interested in being your called minister, as I’ve experienced our partnership to-date as being a “win-win” for us both. I completely support the commitments you make in the world, as Unitarian Universalists. I love your dynamism and strong tradition of lay leadership; your willingness to explore new models for decision-making that better embody UU values, and the learning journey so many of you are on as you struggle to support the UUFP’s transition to becoming a faith community that more fully affirms the central and necessary truth that #BlackLivesMatter. Through all of this, I sense that my own dreams for what ministry is meant to accomplish land on fertile ground at the fellowship.

This is all great news! At the same time, your board and I have decided it would be best to press “pause” on the Contract to Call process over the next few months. Our primary concern is the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the economic realities that shape all of our lives. Congregations who plan to “call” their minister are asked to commit to be able to fund professional ministry at existing levels for a minimum of three years. Although to-date there is no sign that congregational finances are in peril, we have decided it would be prudent to wait until after the November Pledge Campaign to ensure that making this kind of new commitment is actually realistic.

In the meantime, please rest assured that I have no desire to go anywhere (though it will be nice when I can cross the border once again!)

In love and service,

Rev. Nicoline