You have found yourself, as congregations do from time to time, in a period of transition, and you want to help your congregation navigate this transition period in a way that is responsible, expansive and reassuring.
Transitional times can be very nervous making for congregations. Their minister may have left for retirement, for another congregation or as the result of a conflict. While each of these requires a slightly different approach to your transition time, there are goals and tasks that are part of what is considered to be industry standards and best practices for you. A trained Interim Minister can help you work your way from where you are to where you'd like to be with a steady, informed companionship.
Capt. Charles Harding Bridge, Olmsted Falls, Ohio. Built in 1998.
My first parish ministry was as an Interim Minister in Modesto, California. Initially intended to be an 18 month service, the congregation asked me to extend my time to 30 months, and with UUA approval I did.
During that time I took the first course in with the Interim Ministry Network, The Work of the Pastor in 2011. I used what I learned in the first class, as well as my prior non-profit management experience, to help the congregation in Modesto prepare themselves for their next settled minister.
While I was their minister, there had been a break in to the church office and all of their digital records going back 12 years was stolen. Not only was I entrusted with the regular tasks of interim ministry, I was able to help them reestablish themselves with all new forms of digital communication, new accounts and a new computer system.
During my time as their minister, we saw an increase in membership from 110 to 150, with generous help of a fundraiser and a matching grant we were able to reinvigorate the sanctuary and replace the 100 year old oil heating system and add air conditioning to make their church home more comfortable year around.
In 2014 I came to Cleveland, Ohio to serve the Unitarian Universalist Society of Cleveland. In 2017 I was approached by Lay Leaders about the possibility of reuniting with the congregation they'd had an acrimonious split from in 1951, the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland (Shaker Heights.)
Together we worked with the Board at First Unitarian, a committee was assembled with members from both congregations and the work of merging the two congregations began. There was so much to learn as no two UU congregations in our faith's history had ever split and then came back together. There were a lot of lessons along the way, and in the end, a new congregation, with a 154 year history was created in the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Cleveland.
While serving the merged congregations that became the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Cleveland, and as part of my own continuing education goals, I completed the second and final course with the Interim Ministry Network, The Work of the Congregation in 2021. I have now completed this academic preparation. I am now an active member of the Interim Ministry Network and continue to meet monthly with my peer group/classmates on an ongoing basis.