The New Senior Minister

It’s an interesting time to be a UU in Rockford. Our senior minister decided to retire not long after we joined the church (no, I don’t think the two are related). Since then, we’ve had an interim minister, a few summer ministers and various ministers and friends of the church who get a one Sunday shot at the pulpit. We’ve also had a search committee going to find a full time replacement minister. After two years, they found someone. He got to preach two Sundays ago and this past Sunday. Then it was time for the congregation to vote.

Unitarian Universalists vote on pretty much everything we do. And we take our democratic responsibilities seriously at church. No matter is too controversial. Stands that would cause schisms in other religions are our matter of course. On the other hand, even the simplest choices do take a bit longer than they probably do in other churches just because we try to argue every point until we’ve come to a consensus.

And here we were, to vote in a new minister. I knew it was serious when they rolled the coffee pots into the sanctuary.

I don’t drink coffee myself (that’s my controversial stand at the UU Church), but the plates of cookies looked good. They were under wraps though. I figured it was an enticement by the board; you know: do your church duty, vote and you get a cookie. That’s how we did it for the general primary in Belvidere. Either that or maybe the minister and his family baked the cookies as a bribe to the congregation… I don’t think there’s anything in the seven principles that would outright disallow that. Anyway, we got our ballots and it had a single question: do we want this guy as our new minister, yes or no. Even on a question as straightforward as that, we had some discussion and a couple of motions (I seconded the motion to adjourn).

By the way, we did approve the new minister. It was an overwhelmingly positive vote, but not unanimous (now that might go against a principle). Starting in August, the Reverend Matthew C. Johnson-Doyle will become our senior minister at the UU Church of Rockford.

Now, how someone who hasn’t even started yet becomes our “senior” minister… well, that’s a subject for another meeting.


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