The Fantastic Good News!

GNUUC Ministerial Candidate: Rev. Carmen Emerson

You did it, GNUUC! After a rewarding and thorough search process, your Ministerial Search Committee is excited and proud to present Reverend Carmen Emerson as the candidate for our full-time settled minister.

Carmen currently serves as the 64th called and settled minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Meadville, Pennsylvania. In addition to ministry, her rich professional history includes time spent as a legal secretary and paralegal, culminating in the shared creation of a law firm which brought together employees from minority and disadvantaged backgrounds and supported them as they realized their strengths.

To read a thorough background of Rev. Carmen (including learning more about Super Dog Grace!), please see the Ministerial Packet attached below.

Joining Carmen in Nashville for her Candidating Week with GNUUC on April 23 – May 3 will be her husband of 28+ years, Jim. Sarajane Powell is putting together the full schedule for the week. More information on that will be forthcoming.

Please make time to attend the events you can to ensure you have as much time to visit with Carmen as possible. Do not miss the May 3rd Sunday Service, which will include a Congregational Vote after the service.

The Search Committee was impressed and intrigued by Carmen from the very beginning. We find her engaging, thoughtful, she delivers a fantastic sermon, and her open, rich theology will suit GNUUC very well.

We’re very pleased to share this amazing candidate with you.

With gratitude and great excitement,

The GNUUC Ministerial Search Committee

Linda Berry, Gene Bryant, Jennie Gemignani, Mary Hinton, Kathy Morante, Mike Morgan, and Caren Spencer-Smith

CarmenMEmerson Ministerial Packet

Mid-January 2015 Update

Ministerial Search: The Excitement Builds!

The Ministerial Search Committee (MSC) received a list of ministerial applicants interested in GNUUC on January 2nd. (Applicants who have not already done so may still express interest until we indicate we are not accepting additional applications.)

A few relevant facts:

  • 47 congregations are now in search.
  • 86 ministers have expressed interest in at least one congregation.
  • On average, each ministerial applicant applied for 7 openings.
  • GNUUC received 8 applications initially and an additional one on January 12th.

What has happened thus far:

  • The MSC has carefully reviewed the Ministerial Record (the formal application) of all candidates and their personalized packet of information (website) and discussed our impressions as a committee. We liked them all—there were no screen-outs.
  • We have conducted individual hour-long Skype interviews with our applicants. Nobody bombed. Everyone did well. Several shone. We feel that most of our applicants are truly interested in a position with us.  We are both pleased and excited at our opportunities.


What happens next:

  • By Monday, January 19th we will have selected three applicants to present a sermon at a neutral UU church to which the MSC will travel (this is called pre-candidating).
  • We will “go quiet” after this communication to protect the privacy of ministerial candidates. When you hear from us next, it will be to present the candidate selected by the committee.
  • Candidating week is April 25-May 3. Our top candidate will spend more than a week with us, meeting with YOU! – congregation members, leaders, and staff, touring the city, and presenting sermons on two Sundays. The visit culminates with a congregational vote on May 3.  Please try to keep some flexibility in your calendar during these dates!

We have received good feedback about the quality of our Congregational Record, our survey results, and our Search website (to see the Search Website, click on the link in the left column at the website.)  If you have questions, ask one of us: Jennie Gemignani and Kathy Morante (co-chairs), Linda Berry, Gene Bryant, Mary Hinton, Mike Morgan, and Caren Spencer-Smith.

Thanks for your continuing interest and participation in this exciting process.


January 2015 Update From The MSC

The countdown begins …

On Jan. 2, the UUA will send our search committee the names and applications of those interested in being our minister. Due to confidentiality, we will not be able share their names with you, but we will start work immediately to evaluate their ministerial records. Here are the other upcoming key milestones:

  • January – the MSC will identify the top candidates and conduct Skype interviews.
  • February and March – the MSC will engage and carefully evaluate a small number of pre-candidates.
  • First week of April – the MSC will invite one minister to be the candidate for minister.
  • Apr. 25-May 3 – Candidating week at GNUUC. The candidate visits us for the week, preaches at services on those two weekends and meets with members, lay leaders, and staff.
  • May 3, 12:15 p.m. – GNUUC members vote on whether to call the candidate as our new minister.
  • Late summer 2015 – If all goes well, our new minister starts at GNUUC.

We continue to cherish your support and to feel grateful for all of the comments and perspectives you are sharing with us. MSC members: Jennie Gemignani and Kathy Morante (co-chairs), Linda Berry, Gene Bryant, Mary Hinton, Mike Morgan, and Caren Spencer-Smith.



December 2014 Update from the Ministerial Search Committee

The Ministerial Search Committee (MSC) has completed and posted the Congregational Record (CR) that was due at the UUA Transitions Office at the end of November. To explain, the Congregational Record is a set of 48 questions to which each congregation in search for a minister must respond. These questions cover operational items like our membership numbers, attendance, etc., as well as wish-list items like what qualities we most value in a minister. Questions are designed to give ministers in search an idea of what kind of congregation we are and how well they might fit in with us.

The information that we collected from you through surveys, community meetings, and one-on-one interactions is condensed into the answers that we provided. Our goal is and has been to present our congregation so that it is as attractive as possible to all potential candidates who would be happy here and with whom we would be happy. The CR is the document candidates will examine to get their first look at us. Because the questions are the same for every congregation in search, the CR provides a basis for comparison. Ordinarily, only ministerial candidates have access to our congregational record, but in the interest of transparency, the MSC is making our CR available to GNUUC members on the search website: Congregational Record.

We are also working on a congregational packet (“the packet”) that includes photos, recordings, quotes from our congregation, information about Bellevue and Nashville, and everything else we can think of that makes us look good. We have much greater latitude with this promotional material, and we encourage you to take a look at it: Congregational Packet.

Right now, ministerial candidates can view our CR and the packet to evaluate their interest in us. Candidates who “click the button” to say they are interested grant us permission to look at their ministerial records (the ministerial equivalent of our CR). This process happens relatively quickly, and the UUA Transitions Office will provide a list of eligible, interested candidates to us in early January.

MSC work continues in earnest in January as we review, evaluate, and telephone candidates; interview named references; and schedule pre-candidating weekends. Our work during this time is especially confidential to protect the privacy of ministerial candidates. We ask for your understanding. We will continue to provide updates on our process, though not on the details.

We continue to welcome feedback from you. The MSC consists of Jennie Gemignani and Kathy Morante (co-chairs), Linda Berry, Gene Bryant, Mary Hinton, Mike Morgan, and Caren Spencer-Smith. Thank you for your help and for your trust in us.

Photo by Lisa V. Connor


November 2014 Ministerial Search Update

November is an intense month for the Search Committee. We are writing and editing our Congregational Record (CR), which is the online representation of our congregation to be read by ministerial candidates. Sample questions include, “Provide a profile of the minister you seek,” and “Congregational Strengths.” If you would like to see the entire list of questions, it is available here.

Based on the information from the surveys completed, Community Meetings, individual interviews, and the personal conversations we have had, the committee is coming to consensus about the type of person who will best serve our congregation. Once we have completed the CR, we will share it with the congregation.

The committee met virtually with Ann Marie Alderman, our UUA Settlement Representative, on October 26 to ask questions about the next steps in the search and finalizing our CR. The CR will be complete by November 28.

Finally, we continue to add information and insights about GNUUC to the Ministerial Search Website. If you would like to receive an email as more information is added to the website, subscribe by entering your email address in the “follow” box on the top right of the main page on the Search Website. This is another way for the committee to keep the congregation updated on our progress.

As always, please contact any of the committee members with questions, concerns, or insights you’d like to share. The support and honesty of the congregation has been an inspiration to the entire committee.

The Ministerial Search Committee consists of Jennie Gemignani and Kathy Morante (co-chairs), Linda Berry, Gene Bryant, Mary Hinton, Mike Morgan, and Caren Spencer-Smith.

church221_21 (16)

October 2014 Ministerial Search Update

  • Fifty-four individuals completed the congregational survey, a number with which we are extremely pleased. We have closed out this portion of our process to get congregational input. We expect our members and friends will recognize themselves in the results depicted in bar charts on the Ministerial Search Web page. They are quite interesting. We plan to make the results available in hard copy for those who do not have internet access.  Remember, these results will be available to ministerial candidates to give them a picture of GNUUC.


  • All scheduled community meetings have likewise been conducted, and again the committee is extremely pleased with congregational participation. We took notes in every meeting and one of the tasks facing the committee is to distill those notes into relevant points that we will consider in selecting our new minister.


  • Over the next two weeks we will interview individuals identified by the committee as “key” persons because of their close professional contact. Again, the Search Committee will distill the results of these interviews into relevant points for our search. To be interviewed are: Fran Gebuhr, Lauren Rigsby, Dan Rosemergy, Rachel Lonberg, and from 1st UU Gail Seavey and Jason Shelton. These interviews will be the final segment of collecting information from and about GNUUC.


  • Jo Ann Dale and Gil Guerrero, facilitators from UUA, presented the service on September 21st and then conducted the Beyond Categorical Thinking Workshop from 1 to 4 p.m. Yet again, congregational participation exceeded our hopes—attendance was excellent for the service, and more than 30 individuals stayed for the workshop. The goal of the workshop is to set a congregation on the path of thinking outside the box, trying to urge folks in the direction of selecting the best candidate rather than selecting someone who fits a specific label. The facilitators also note that a search that ends up not selecting a candidate is still a successful search, and may be far better than settling for a candidate we are not enthusiastic about. The workshop is intended to be just the beginning of a process of continuous self-examination to identify biases, especially those so subtle we may not recognize them readily.


  • The GNUUC Ministerial Search website is up and running. Be forewarned that it is a work in progress, and materials already posted may be edited to improve their accuracy or appearance. We hope you will follow it. We are highly encouraged by the participation by our congregation in the search process. You have been better than we dared to hope. Many thanks from the MSC: Jennie Gemignani  and Kathy Morante (co-chairs), Linda Berry, Gene Bryant, Mary Hinton, Mike Morgan, and Caren Spencer-Smith.


  • What’s next? We will complete our on-line Application for Minister and post our Congregational Record by November 30th. We are well within the schedule suggested by the UUA. Our committee meets most Sundays after the service. We will strive to keep all of you actively involved.
Photo by Lisa V. Connor


September 2014 Ministerial Search Update

Update from the Ministerial Search Committee

By Mike Morgan

  • Approximately forty congregation members and friends have completed the ministerial survey, which is still available on-line at Ministerial Survey. Hard copies are also available in the sanctuary. We are pleased with the response rate and will continue the survey until we have as many responses as we feel we are likely to get. Everyone who attends GNUUC and has an interest in our new minister should complete this survey—you do not have to be a member.


  • We began on August 24th holding community meetings to collect information to describe our congregation to prospective ministers and also to answer questions from the congregation. Please choose one of the dates below to attend, and meet at the front of the sanctuary. Meetings will last an hour at most.
    • Thursday, August 28, Brown Bag Lunch at noon
    • Sunday, August 31, 12:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, September 7, 12:30 p.m.
    • Sunday, September 14, 9:45 a.m. with Credo Group (Meets in library)


  • The MSC will meet with Jo Ann Dale and Gil Guerrero from the UUA Transitions office, co-facilitators of the Beyond Categorical Thinking workshop, for dinner on Saturday evening, September 20th. They will present the service on Sunday morning, and then after the service, the workshop entitled “Beyond Cate- gorical Thinking.” Because of the importance of this workshop to the process of selecting our next minister, it is important that as many friends and members as possible attend. Remember September 21.


  • The Ministerial Search website is up and running. The primary purpose of this site is to share GNUUC with prospective candidates and to keep the congregation informed of the Committee’s progress. Check it out at:


  • Reminder of dates: we expect to have completed our on-line Application for Minister and to have posted our Congregational Record by November 30th. We will be reviewing candidates between January and March, 2015 and expect to have selected the best candidate by April, 2015. Our new minister should arrive in August or September 2015. The committee is currently well-within the time frame suggested by the UUA, and we expect to proceed per plan.The Ministerial Search Committee consists of Jennie Gemignani and Kathy Morante (co-chairs), Linda Berry, Gene Bryant, Mary Hinton, Mike Morgan, Caren Spencer-Smith, and Roger Wiesmeyer. We welcome your conversation with us about your wishes for a settled minister.

pulpit with chalice

August Newsletter Ministerial Search Update

Update from the Ministerial Search Committee

By Mike Morgan

  • Important Update from the Ministerial Search Committee July 30, 2014. Please complete the questionnaire for individual congregation members and friends now available at Ministerial Survey. The survey may be completed online. For those who prefer, hard copies will be available in the sanctuary on August 3 and every Sunday thereafter until we have as many responses as we feel we are likely to get. Everyone who attends GNUUC and has an interest in our new minister should complete this survey—you do not have to be a member.


  • The date for the Beyond Categorical Thinking workshop is Sunday, September 21st. Co-facilitators Jo Ann Dale and Gil Guerrero, trained by the UUA Transitions office, will present the service on Sunday morning, sharing their personal perspectives on the experience of identity and how our understanding of identities impacts the ministerial search. After worship, we encourage everyone to attend the “Beyond Categorical Thinking” workshop as we learn about the way that our personal experiences and biases can hinder us from finding the best minister for our congregation. It is vitally important that as many members as possible attend this workshop—please mark September 21st on your calendar!


  • The Ministerial Search Committee website has been set up and currently includes biographies of MSC members. A history of our founding and additional information to tell ministerial candidates about us will be added as we move along. The website will be available to members of the congregation.


  • A separate bank account with funds budgeted to the MSC has been set up to help ensure the confidentiality of ministerial pre-candidates. Gene Bryant is the treasurer.


  • Kathy Morante, who resigned from the MSC during the illness of Bob Watkins, has consented to rejoin the committee at our unanimous request. She will again co-chair the committee with Jennie Gemignani.


  • We are beginning to plan the process of holding cottage meetings as part of collecting information to de- scribe our congregation to prospective ministers. All information will be assembled by the end of October.


  • The Ministerial Search Committee consists of Jennie Gemignani (co-chair), Kathy Morante (co-chair), Linda Berry, Gene Bryant, Mary Hinton, Mike Morgan, Caren Spencer-Smith, and Roger Wiesmeyer. We welcome your conversation with us about your wishes for a settled minister.

church from driveway-2

June 2014 Update From The Ministerial Search Committee

Update from the Ministerial Search Committee

By Mike Morgan

Roger Wiesmeyer was selected by the Board to join the Ministerial Search Committee (SC), replacing Kathy Morante, who resigned for family reasons. He has been incorporated into ongoing activities.

The SC made a presentation at the All-Church Retreat and received and answered a number of questions. [It is a misconception that the Committee is fanning out to hear a lot of different potential ministers. The committee will identify the top three pre-candidates from those who are interested in us. Insofar as possible, all seven members of the SC will hear each pre-candidate present a sermon in a neutral pulpit. The SC will then reach consensus on the best candidate for GNUUC.] The SC meets weekly on Sundays.

Current Activities:

  • Identifying and contacting congregations within 250 miles that might offer a neutral pulpit for one or more of our three pre-candidates. In January or February, SC members will attend a service at the host church to hear the candidate deliver a sermon.
  • Scheduling a workshop entitled Beyond Categorical Thinking to be presented to the SC and other church leaders in September or October. The workshop team will also provide the Sunday service. The intent is to help us get past the tendency to identify our ideal minister by categorical definitions: young, female, African-American, Buddhist, etc.
  • Developing a survey for the congregation to identify qualities they want in a new minister. The survey will help the SC quantify responses, so please complete it even if you have already provided input to the committee.
  • Soliciting individual input about the ministerial search. This will continue into November.
  • Beginning to plan our congregational packet, to be presented on-line. Fortunately, the SC is blessed with members who are tech savvy.
  • Continuing to work on our history, a project initiated and facilitated by Rachel Lonberg. It is important to tell our own story honestly rather than have it told by others. Our history will be presented in our packet, or Congregational Record, as it is officially called.
  • Deciding how to manage payment of committee expenses in a way to preserve privacy of pre-candidates.


May 2014 Report From The Search Committee

Report from the Ministerial Search Committee

By Mike Morgan

The Ministerial Search Committee (MSC) met in retreat on April 18-19 with the Rev. Ann Marie Alderman, our Ministerial Search Representative from the UUA. We assigned these committee roles: Chair—Kathy Morante and Jennie Gemignani (co-chairs); Packet Editor and Distributor—Caren Spencer-Smith and Gene Bryant; Ar- ranger—Caren Spencer-Smith and Mary Hinton; Reference Checker—Mary Hinton, Linda Berry, and Gene Bryant; Secretary—Mike Morgan, Jennie Gemignani, Mary Hinton; Survey Coordinator—Linda Berry, Gene Bryant; Treasurer—Gene Bryant. Subsequently, Kathy Morante resigned from the committee because of family obligations. The Board will be asked to add one or two additional members to the MSC from those already considered by the congregation. Jennie Gemignani will remain chairperson.

We developed the following covenant for our committee:

We covenant to:

1. Participate in and facilitate the work of the Ministerial Search Committee (MSC), with each person doing a fair share.

2. Express our honest opinions with respect for the feelings and opinions of other group members.

3. Listen with patience and an open mind, not only to other MSC members but to all members of the congregation.

4. Hold as our highest priority the best interests of our congregation and its future.

5. Maintain confidentiality regarding all MSC activities and discussions, being especially careful not to compromise our ministerial candidates.

Furthermore, we covenant to:

1. Hear and respect the point-of-view of each other and to react with kindness, especially when we disagree.

2. Remain on-task, minimizing personal drama and giving all group members an opportunity to talk (“don’t suck all the air out of the room”).

3. Be sensitive to all manner of diversity and avoid discrimination or appearance of discrimination in the work we do.

4. Work as a team, providing help to each other as needed and owning individually the decisions we make as a group.

5. Select the best candidate for our church and stand united in presenting that candidate to our congregation.

Timeline: We expect to have a settled minister arrive in August or September 2015. Many things will happen before then.

A major goal due November 2014 is that the MSC will have gathered and compiled information from the congregation about their wishes for a minister using surveys, community meetings, and interviews. During this same time frame, the board will be working to develop a compensation package and draft agreement.

By November 30, 2014, we will have completed our online Application for Minister and posted our Congregational Record (CR) to let interested candidates know of our position.

From January through March 2015 the MSC will select perhaps three “pre-candidates” from those who have indicated an interest in us. The first-choice candidate will be made an offer on the first Thursday of April 2015.

These major time points are just the tip of the iceberg. We encourage our members and friends to share their thoughts and wishes with us, especially in the information-gathering portion of this process. A time for questions and answers has been set aside for Saturday evening at the All Church Retreat, but we welcome your input at any time.

Later on, in order to fulfill our covenant to maintain the confidentiality of ministerial candidates, we will be unable to share some details with you.

We appreciate your trust in allowing us to do this.