About our Ministerial Search

Update on the Upcoming Ministerial Search Process

Wondering how things are proceeding with the search for a settled minister for First Parish? The task for this spring was to select a Search Committee, which will do its work over the next year, with the goal of recommending a settled minister for congregational vote by late spring 2018. The members of the Search Committee have now been announced. They are:

Karla Baehr Ellie Boynton Bijan Etemad-Gilbertson Charles Fuller
Susan Larrabee Laura Walters Ron Wilkinson  

Read bios of search committee members

This was the time line over the last few months:

  • April 2 Sunday service – Rev. Rebecca preached on the topic of our upcoming transition and ministerial search:
  • April 3 – The formal nomination period for Search Committee membership opens (see details of this process below). FPB members in good standing will be asked to nominate up to five people they think would represent the interests of the church well, through a secure email process (or alternative, for those without email). If you have questions about your membership status, please check with Sonya immediately. In order to be a member in good standing you must have made a financial contribution of record sometime between July 1, 2016 and April 15, 2017.
  • April 16 – formal nomination period closes; Parish Board begins the review of nominations and selection of final candidates.
  • May 5 – Annual meeting agenda and slate of Search Committee nominees is mailed to members. In-person early voting, as described in our current bylaws, begins on May 8.
  • May 21 Annual Meeting - Annual meeting; slate of Search Committee nominees are voted on by FP members in good standing.

Following is the Ministerial Search Committee Policy approved by the Parish Board:

Objective: So as to provide a fair and reasonable method for the formation of a Ministerial Search Committee compatible with the method endorsed by the UUA, the First Parish in Brookline institutes this policy to outline the method for insuring as near universal as possible participation by each and all members of the congregation, and also to insure the Ministerial Search Committee will fairly represent our mission.

Qualities of Committee Members*:

The following are qualities that each Ministerial Search Committee member should have:

  1. Respected and trusted by the congregation
  2. Good listener and good speaker
  3. Able to represent the congregation as a whole
  4. Invested in the congregation’s future
  5. Reliable
  6. Able to commit to a long-term time-intensive process


When the Parish Board determines a need for a Ministerial Search Committee to be formed, these steps will be followed:

  1. An email message will go out to all members of First Parish in Brookline who are in good standing, requesting up to five nominations, including self -nominations, for membership on the Ministerial Search Committee. Nominees must be members of FPB in good standing. This email will include the desired qualities of members of the Ministerial Search Committee listed above. It will include a deadline for submission of nominations and an email address for submission of nominations.
  2. Once the date of the deadline has passed, a list will be formed of all names mentioned, including the number of times they were mentioned.
  3. From this list, the 12-14 names most often mentioned will be determined.

As soon as possible after these 12-14 names are determined, the Parish Board, and other designees if necessary, will:

  1. Determine willingness to serve by contacting each member on the list.
  2. Prepare a written ballot with the names listed alphabetically.
  3. Collect brief and consistent bios for each person on the slate. These bios will include length of time of membership at FPB, previous committee work done, and a statement of why they are interested in serving on the Search Committee. Along with the slate of candidates, these bios will be shared with the congregation in advance of the annual meeting or other formally called congregational meeting.
  4. Inform members that they have 4 votes to cast, and that each vote must be for a different individual.

Results of the Elections:

After the election the Parish Board will:

  1. Meet in executive session to count the ballots. The 4 individuals with the most votes will be elected.
  2. Appoint 3 other individuals from the remaining names on the list, keeping the need for diversity on the committee in mind.

As soon as possible and in whatever way is expedient, the Parish Board will announce the members of the Ministerial Search Committee to the congregation. The congregation will not know who was elected and who was appointed by the Parish Board.

Self Nomination: Self nomination for the Ministerial Search Committee will be accepted during the time of congregational solicitation, and not after the Parish Board has prepared the ballot of names, and not at the Annual Meeting.

Conflicts of Interest: In order to prevent conflicts of interest on the Ministerial Search Committee, persons related by blood or by marriage or other affectional bond will not serve together on a Ministerial Search Committee. Also, if a selected and approved member is also on the Parish Board, they will step down from that position in order to take on membership of the Ministerial Search Committee. Finally, Transition Team members are excluded from membership on the Search Committee, per their Team covenant.

* Here’s an expanded version of the list of qualities for Search Committee members, developed by the UUA and recommended by Laura Graham, our ministerial settlement representative:

What are the good qualities needed for someone to serve on a Ministerial Search Committee?

  • Who in the congregation works well with others?
  • Who can represent and serve the whole congregation well (including looking out for the needs of children) and not just a piece or “faction” of the congregation? Who would have no “axe to grind”?
  • Who knows the history and culture of the congregation, whether a member of long standing or relatively new?
  • Who has been and/or is active in the congregation and has demonstrated both responsible participation and responsible leadership?
  • After a high salary, the most attractive quality a congregation can have is self-awareness – awareness of strengths and weaknesses, what the congregation is like at its best and at its worst, as well as on an average day. Who would be able to know and relate all this to potential candidates?
  • After thinking about all of these questions, whom would you trust to serve on the Search Committee on behalf of the congregation? Who is trusted?

Read more details and view the full Ministerial Search timeline

If you have questions, please contact a member of the Transition Team (listed below) or Sue Andrews, Chair of the Parish Board.

Transition Team: Anne Copeland, Jami Jordan, Mark Reynolds, Bob Williamson