We Do Not Have An Interim Minister — So, What Does That Mean?

It’s official — like about two dozen other congregations across North America, our Fellowship has completed the Interim Ministry search process this year without matching with an interim minister. This is not the outcome we wanted, and it is also not a major surprise.

Interim Ministers are in unusually short supply this year due to the ongoing, rippling disruptions of COVID. There were no Canadian candidates this year. Both the other two Canadian congregations in Interim Search find themselves in this same position.

In anticipation of this possibility, our Leadership Council — an informal body that takes in multiple forms of leadership — met in person at the Fellowship 11 days ago, on May 30th, to share updates, feelings and possibilities.

What could it mean to have a year, or part of a year, without a Minister? What resources, strengths and relationships might we draw on? What challenges will we need to face?

Members of our Leadership Council, representing the Board, Committee on Ministry, Interim Search Team, Creative Worship Team and RE, met just after the storm outages to look ahead. Photo: Rev. Julie Stoneberg

I believe we can…

We exchanged stories, including memories of the time before Julie was with us — two and a half years of healthy interim ministry and a period of six months without a Minister.

We placed ourselves physically along a line from “very comfortable“ to “very concerned” about the coming year, and then talked from our various positions along the line, recognizing that both the fears and the creative optimism are valid.

We moved into small groups to brainstorm selected core areas of congregational life in a time when the congregation leads — Sunday services, RE, and heartbeats of the community like small group ministry and pastoral care.

As our closing circle, we each wrote a single sentence beginning with the words “I believe we can…” on a card, and read them to each other.

This is what your leadership group — those who were able to attend — believes. That we, the Unitarian Fellowship of Peterborough can:

  • … face the challenges, and take advantage of the opportunities our current state presents to us.
  • … grow stronger during this time.
  • … deepen our healing by walking together in the interim discernment process.
  • … rise to the challenge of keeping our community thriving!
  • … create together.
  • … care for the generations ahead and after by coming back together more whole than before.
  • … co-discover creative and inclusive solutions to our shared ministry that move us forward.
  • … dive deep and come up strong — enriched and renewed by all we learn from this time of uncertainty.
  • … be a force for good in our community.
  • … spark interest in and renewal of our community by inviting people for special events (for families, musicians, poets, etc).
  • … be a support to young families.
  • … stay connected through commitment and compassion.
  • … accept and resolve the losses that have and will come our way and invigorate our community in magical and joyful ways.

There will be many opportunities to step into leadership in the coming months. Let’s talk, all of us, about what’s to come and what we can do to make what may be a very different year a time of transformative learning.

— Ben Wolfe (Board President)