Ministerial Transition FAQ's and Timeline

First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City

Ministerial Transition

Frequently Asked Questions 

Question: When will Tom retire? 
Answer: Tom's last sermon will be May 16.
Question: Will there be a celebration of Tom’s time with us?  (AKA: When’s the PARTY?)
Answer: The 34 Years Celebration Committee has sent out communications about celebration plans. If you have questions, you can reach them at .
Question: Will Tom continue to be a member of our congregation?
Answer: This is ultimately Tom’s decision, however, the UU Ministers’ Association guidelines expectations are that retired ministers will not be active in the life of the congregation for at least one year after the arrival of the new settled minister.  It is common for the former and new ministers to enter into covenant on how they will work together.  
It is also expected that members of the congregation will not contact the former minister for ministerial services and that the former minister will refer any such contacts to the new minister.  
Question: How will Tom’s successor be selected?
Answer: Working with the UUA Transitions Office, we will hire an interim minister for two years while we search for a new permanent minister.  During this interim period a search committee will be formed to identify and interview applicants and recommend a candidate to the congregation for the called Senior Minister position.  The final candidate will be voted on by the congregation at a congregational meeting in 2023.
Question: What is the process for obtaining an interim minister?
Answer: The UUA maintains a list of experienced ministers who serve in interim positions while congregations search for new permanent ministers. Our board has requested the ministerial transition task force review applications, interview candidates and select one of them. The selection of the interim minister will happen in spring 2021 (See April 2 Torch article for more details about the timeline and search process).
Question: Would Monica consider becoming our next Senior Minister?
Answer: As Monica announced at the annual meeting last June, she considered this option and decided against it. She will continue in her role as assistant minister for the foreseeable future.
Question: How long will Monica be our Assistant Minister and what will be her role be during the transition?
Answer: Monica will continue to serve in her current role and plans to be with us through the entire transition period extending into, at least, the first year of the new minister’s call.  While ministers do come and go we feel secure that we will have Monica with us for at least the next 4 to 5 years. 
Question: What is the Ministerial Transition Task Force and what are its roles? How many members are on it and who are they? How long will this team be in place?
Answer: The Transition Task Force, consisting of seven First Church members, provides leadership to and communicates with the Congregation during the ministerial succession process, facilitating the congregation's preparation to call a new minister.  The Task Force reports to the Board of Trustees and follows guidance provided by the UUA. The members of the Task Force currently includes Debbie Bieber and Sue Geary (co-chairs), Paul Carpenter, Jessica French, Erin Phinney Johnson, John LaMalfa, Nancy Moos, and Don Walton is our Board liaison.
Question: What will be the process for selecting a new permanent minister and when will the process begin?
Answer: Under the direction of the Board of Trustees, a Search Committee made up of First Church members will begin preparing for the search once an interim minister is in place, approximately September 2021. Some initial steps, such as surveying First Church members about what they hope for in a new minister, may be undertaken by the Transition Task Force. When it is time to search for a new settled minister, the Search Committee will vet, interview and evaluate candidates.   The Search Committee will present their final recommendation to the Congregation in the spring of 2023.  The recommended candidate will visit for approximately 10 days to preach twice and meet with members and committees of the congregation.   On the final Sunday of the candidate’s visit the congregation will vote on whether or not to call them as the new Sr. Minister.  Approval of at least 90 percent of the voting members is recommended for the candidating minister to accept the call. 
Question: What are the criteria for being on the Search Committee and how and when will members be selected?
Answer: The criteria are being developed.  We envision an application process with the committee members being elected by the congregation at either a special meeting or at the annual congregational meeting in May 2022.  
Question: Will the Church's current governance system remain in place during the transition?
Answer: We don't foresee any changes to church governance during the transition. 
Question: What will be the Board of Trustee's role during the transition?
Answer: The Board will continue directing and overseeing the policies of the Church. 
Question: Will there be any changes to other aspects of the Church during the transition e.g. Sunday services, Religious Education, Music, Administration, Finance, etc.
Answer: While no specific changes are currently planned, we should expect and welcome changes because the Interim Minister and later the new senior minister are unique individuals, and in their capacities, may see new opportunities for our congregation.  This may be especially true in the 2nd year of the Interim's work with us, as they identify aspects of our structures and processes that could be improved or made more consistent with the values and aspirations that we articulate as a congregation.
Question: What is the timeline for completing the entire process of getting a new permanent minister comfortably settled into place? 
Answer: 4-5 years:  see timeline on our website.
Question: How can I, as just one member of the congregation, help make sure this is a successful transition?
Answer: You can participate fully in the reflections we go through as a congregation; you can communicate your ideas, wishes and concerns to the Transition Task Force, Interim minister, Board and Search Committee, and you can prepare yourself for change and keep an open heart and mind.
Question: How do I get in touch with a member of the transition team?
Answer: You can send an email to:


For more information about the transition, see past Torch articles and information linked below:


Transition Timelime

Click Here for the timeline pdf