The Settled Minister Calling Process: An Update

The Contract to Call (C2C) Task Force is moving ahead with its work to determine the congregation’s views on calling Reverend Peter Boullata as our settled minister at the Unitarian Fellowship of Peterborough.  

Rev. Peter Boullata

To this end, our next step is organizing several small-group discussion meetings in March to gather views and thoughts from congregation members and friends. The process, meeting times, and process contact information are outlined below, after a brief review of how we got here, where we are, and where we are going.

Historical review/context

After 15 years, Rev. Julie Stoneberg resigned her position as our Settled minister in the spring of 2022. We held a goodbye ceremony in June and planted a tree in her honour. 

An interim search committee was convened and after several months of following the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) guidelines and process, only one candidate matching our needs agreed to an interview and he did not accept our offer. The UUA informed us that across North America there were 52 congregations searching and only 44 ministers seeking a position and that about half of the congregations did not find an interim minister.

In the absence of a minister, many members of the congregation stepped up to ensure that the Unitarian Fellowship of Peterborough continued to run smoothly. The Board appointed a Transition Team to do the work we had expected an interim minister might do with us as we remembered our history, took stock of our current situation, and started to think about our future. The Board contracted with Rev. Peter Boullata to lead one service a month in the 2022-23 church year and he was hired as our full time minister with a 2-year contract in September 2023.

The congregation is now in the position to consider calling a settled minister. The board has appointed a Contract to Call task force to lead us through a UUA approved process to consider whether the congregation would like to call Reverend Peter.  

The Process and Timelines

The rough timeline for Contract to Call (C2C) tasks are as follows:

  1. ‘The Call’ service was held on February 18, 2023 and can be seen here.
  2. There will be several opportunities for the congregation to engage in small group discussions and an online questionnaire in the month of March. 
  3. Written comments will also be welcome at any time in March. Please send comments to the Task Force via email to Mark Parnis at jmparnis@gmail.com
  4. The C2C will create a summary report of our findings and make a recommendation to the board in April about whether to proceed with calling Reverend Peter as our settled minister.
  5. The Board will call a special congregational meeting  before the summer break for a confidential vote on the question and if there is sufficient support to warrant it, would call Reverend Peter to be UFP’s third settled minister.

Discussion Meetings and Feedback

During the month of March, we will be having small group meetings for community members to discuss their thoughts on the congregation and Rev. Peter’s role as our minister going forward.

We encourage you to sign up for any of the following dates, please email Fahrin at fahrinkermally@gmail.com to confirm your spot in that group. Zoom links will be provided if necessary. If none of these times work for you but you would still like to be interested in this discussion, please email Fahrin with your days/times of availability and we will do our best to accommodate your needs.

DateTimeFacilitatorLocation
Sunday, March 1011:30amJovannaUFP
Tuesday, March 1212pmStuUFP
Saturday, March 1612pm MargZoom
Sunday, March 1711:30amJovannaUFP
Tuesday, March 1912pmStuZoom
Friday, March 222pmLeighZoom

Questions for Reflection

  1. What is working well at UFP? 
  2. What changes would you like to see at UFP?
  3. What has this period of transitional ministry with Rev. Peter been like for you?
  4. What can Rev. Peter bring to our congregation as it moves into the future?
  5. How do you feel about Rev. Peter leading us into the next stage of our congregational development?

Closing Thoughts

The Contract to Call Task Force looks forward to hearing your thoughts and contributions as we move forward with this important process.  Please do contribute your thoughts and opinions, either by attending one of the small-group sessions, or by emailing your thoughts to the group via Mark Parnis at jmparnis@gmail.com.

In gratitude,

— Donna Harris, Fahrin Kermally,  Ben Taylor, Mark Parnis, Guy Hanchet

Contract to Call Service is Feb. 18

Introducing our Task Force — and announcing a “Contract to Call” service

The UFP Board has convened a Contract to Call task force to determine with the congregation the potential for our contract minister Rev. Peter Boullata to become our settled minister. The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) provides a template for this work, which includes information to guide us. We will be sharing information about the process and offer the opportunity for small-group conversations to gain the input of members of the congregation on this question. Your thoughts and opinions matter and everyone will  get an opportunity to participate.

The first step in the process is to organize a Call Sermon which will be held on Sunday, February 18th during the regular Sunday service. After the service, a short information session will be held to outline the process and answer questions. Our goal is to offer this both  in person and online.

Small-group discussions and an online survey in March will consider the following questions:

  • What is working well in our religious spiritual community?
  • What is our shared ministry accomplishing according to our mission?
  • What is not working well in our religious/spiritual  community?
  • Is our current minister a good match for the next stages of congregational development?

The Contract to Call task force will generate a summary report in the Spring and make a recommendation to the Board on whether or not to proceed with a congregational paper vote on whether to call Peter as our settled minister. It is our intention that this question will be resolved before our summer break.

For further information or to provide written feedback to the committee, please contact Fahrin at fahrinkermally@gmail.com

Your Contract to Call task force:

Guy Hanchet
Donna Harris
Fahrin Kermally
Mark Parnis
Ben Taylor

Some Important News Updates

brown and white star print gift wrapper

THE UFP BOARD and other core Fellowship working circles have been exceptionally busy this fall with routine and special tasks. Here are some key updates — in addition to the big one in yesterday’s Flame, our Congregational Budget Meeting on December 10.

“Contract to Call” — 
A Settled Ministry with Rev. Peter?

One of the exciting aspects of our contract arrangement with Rev. Peter Boullata is that it includes the option of moving to Settled Ministry, through a formal process of congregational discernment, if we all wish it.

At this month’s Board meeting we initiated a Task Force to lead the congregation through this important, participatory community exploration over the next six months. We have begun recruiting 5-7 members, separate from the Board, to lead this work.

Safe Gathering — Our
COVID Measures and Policy

COVID is very prevalent again this fall (along with other respiratory viruses), with the local Public Health risk factor currently and often at “High.” Many of us and/or friends and families have been affected.

The Board has carefully reviewed our COVID measures and policies and re-tested our air circulation and quality improvements, with highly valued support from our Safe Gathering advisor. We have found that our air quality measures are working, and no policy changes are needed at this time. This result relies on multiple filters in place since spring, and specific designated open doors and windows during gatherings. These measures have made it possible and responsible to gather. We hope this can continue uninterrupted; we continue to track weekly local data and Public Health advice.

We remain a “masks strongly encouraged but voluntary” venue. Masking works when practiced consistently, and is welcomed in our space. We are committed to continuing our hybrid in-person/online services, and are grateful for all who help that happen each week! Among many other benefits, this lets us self-screen as symptomatic, sick, or vulnerable to illness, and still attend. We have often had 15-25 people online on Sundays.

Our Governing Documents,
Our “Purposes”

Provincial changes require all Ontario non-profits, including UFP, to make substantial updates to our governing documents by October 2024. To meet this task and deadline, the Board struck a Governing Documents circle in the spring. Ian Attridge, Paul King-Fisher, Leigh Symonds and I (Ben Wolfe) are at work on this project, and treating it as an opportunity to be visionary and creative about our values and future rather than merely compliant.

The next step in this work is a reconsideration of our “charitable purposes,” for the first time in more than a generation. Our stated purposes are part of what enable our legal use of our charitable resources. These have been very narrowly defined until now. For example, they do not yet include social justice work, refugee sponsorship, and other things we clearly deem important. Watch for news and a community conversation on this early in the new year!

The Challenge of Building Security

Rising anti-semitism and violence in the Middle East have unfortunately led to a heightened sense of risk and need for security in synagogues and many other places of community gathering and worship. We are no exception. Our joint UFP and Beth Israel security committee has proposed some draft measures in response. Some of these measures may seem uncomfortable or daunting, and they clearly need further discussion.

We deeply value our friendship and partnership with Beth Israel. At its most recent meeting, the Board has accepted the need for “tiered, consistent, evidence-based security” for the building. In doing so, we have also affirmed “the constant need to balance the felt experience of necessary security with our deep values of welcome and inclusion, grounded in love.” Watch for more on this too.

A “Wake Up Call” Budget

Don’t forget the Budget Meeting on December 10. It’s important. As many of us discussed in the Finance Committee’s congregational engagement sessions this month, Finance and the Board see this year’s draft budget as a wake-up call. If you missed those sessions, you can view a recording here. If you haven’t read Treasurer Scott Donovan’s message and invitation in yesterday’s Flame please do!

With love and commitment for this community,

Ben Wolfe, President
(for the UFP Board)

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