A positive path for spiritual living

The Transition Process - by Rev. Toni G. Boehm

As of October 2017, we are holding highwatch as our board is in negotiation with one of the ministerial candidates to become our spiritual leader. We trust the process and trust that all involved are divinely guided. 
Click here to learn more about our ministerial candidates.

CLICK HERE TO LINK to a PDF version of HANDBOOK for TRANSITION about the Unity Kitchener Process



Transition: a 7ish step process:

1. The hand off: Rev. Sharon does her best to download all her knowledge and handoff all the balls she juggles. Staff, Board and Congregation do their best to take in the information and catch the balls.


2. Saying good-bye: Opportunity for closure. Sweet 16 Party, guest book in the lobby, and Thanksgiving services are the formal opportunities. She IS leaving so don't plan to post-pone this step.


3. Grief and releasing: Celebrate, embrace, heal, release. Honour our past without getting stuck there or worshipping it. The timeline on the sanctuary wall can serve as a starting point. Rev. Cynthia Vermillion-Foster will be speaking and facilitating on this topic on Oct. 18. This step can be uncomfortable and cannot be skipped, by-passed, or rushed without unpleasant consequences.


4. Discover/explore who are we are without Rev. Sharon. This is our chance to explore new ways of doing and being.


5. Decide what we want: clarify mission, vision, core values, set intentions


6. Search/Hire: Sub-steps will be addressed when this step is closer


7. Build New Relationship


Things You Need to Know about Transition Ministry & Minister Search Teams
Rev. Toni G. Boehm, Ph.D.

Not all ministries have the joy of using a ministerial search teams to discover their next minister; some denominations use an appointment process. Not so in Unity. Individual ministries
are free to explore to their hearts content a multitude of candidates in their search for a minister aligned with their ministries vision, mission and core values. Unity does however, have support for
ministries engaging in a ministerial search process; including an Employment (clearinghouse), ministry packets, guidelines for initiating a search team, and a Transition Ministry Support Team.

Even with all this in place, a rich history of placing ministers for hundreds of years, and with as many as 200,000 congregations in the U.S., using a search process’, there still seems to be mystery about how the process works. This includes answers to questions such as:

      Who should be on the team?
      Who should be involved in the search?
      How does the congregation get informed along the way?
      When is the “right” time to organize the search team and begin?
      Do we start the search before or after the minister leaves?
      Who’s in charge of the team?
      Does it start before the current minister leaves or after?
      How will the ministry make decisions when the minister is gone?
      Who will look after the well-being of the ministry when the minister is gone?
      Have you created teams for successful running of the ministry?
      Who is the point person, noted, not default?

All of these questions come together to create a multitude of ways to do the search process and open the door to lots of inconsistencies based on a lack of information and knowledge on the part of the board and the search team. By now one might that the answer to these questions would be second nature to a ministry. I do know that things have certainly have progressed from when I graduated. At that time, 25 years ago, mountains of paper work was not unusual and there were always a multitude of tapes to review – all of which had to be waited on until snail mail brought them to us. Heaven forbid if we more information was desired – it could take weeks to get it. Now we have evolved to emailed resumes and videos on YouTube. So evolution is marching us forward as we parade through information and the digital age.

Although, Unity Worldwide Ministries employment does not interject itself into your ministries search it does provide support in several forms. UWM Employment office provides information to candidates about open ministries and to ministries about candidates; thus, UWM serves as clearing house for this information.

UWM, also supports ministries through Transition Ministry Support. This support can be in form of answering questions or the engagement of a Transitional Ministry Consultant if the ministry decides that this is the route to go for the ministry. There is criteria to help determine this. Much could be written here on ministry search teams, but allow me to provide a few highlights that might support you in your task of searching for a minister. Here are several key things that you need to know:

1. The process of finding a minister is taking much longer.
There are several key reasons for this development.
 First, the process itself is no longer as simple as it once was; there were lots of ministers and lots of ministers who wanted to do pulpit ministry. Ministries were thriving and spiritual communities could easily pay a salary commiserate with their area.
 Second, the challenge of shorter minister tenure often creates a search to pause and be more diligent in their search for hiring a new minister. This is an arduous task, and to have someone come and stay a few months to a few years, often feels deflating to a spiritual community.
 Third, expect the process to take as long a year.
 And last, but not least – in fact, maybe most important – there are things the ministry really needs to do and discover, such as find out who you are as a ministry, without the consciousness of the current minister influencing the group. So, please DO NOT start your search process with the current minister in place. This is difficult to hear, and if you heed this advice it will, in the end, hold the ministry in good stead.
 Please breathe this statement in – it might be the most important thing stated in this handout.
 This process is not just about finding a minister it is a wonderful opportunity for the spiritual community to coalesce and grow in new ways.
 To discover more about what this statement means for the ministry have a conversation with a transition consultant.

2. Search teams often try to work in and around the system – and through formal and informal recommendations and referrals.
 I get calls frequently asking if I know someone who might be interested in taking their ministry, thus, a ministry is more likely to find a candidate through informal routes and recommendations as they are through formal. However, there is a down side to this. Be careful of resumes that do not come through the UWM system, if these people are willing to circumvent the system set up – it could be a sign of what is to come once they are in your ministry. It is one thing to ask someone to come and interview and go through UWM to set up the process and quite another to just get resumes.

3. Search committees are utilizing the services of outside experts more often.
 Last year the UWM Transition Ministry Support Team spoke with over 40 ministries, as a first step in the ministerial search process. At this time questions were answered and information given to support the search teams in their efforts.

4. Four out of five search committees receive no training.
 UWM feedback and research from Alban Institute says that ministries that use Transition ministry consultants (TMC) find that typically they are well worth the expense to help a search committee find good candidates and in guided support for the ministry. That is their area of ministry expertise. TMC is a team that is underpinned by a body of knowledge with criteria for certification that must first be met in order to serve.  Their job is support you in walking the search process, among other things.

5. There are seven stages that make up the Transition Process and five development tasks.

None of stages or tasks should be skipped over, they are all important to the overall success of the transition process. Speak with a TMC to discover more about this information.

6. The first place most search team use to evaluate a prospective candidate is podcasts, websites (the candidates and the current ministry they are serving), Facebook, other social media, and/or YouTube.
 A search team, at this current time in space, tends to go the above mentioned places to check a candidate first, try it. You will learn a lot about a candidate by just Googling them and or seeing what kind of responses they are getting to blogs or other things they are posting. When at the beginning of a ministerial search, use all the resources available, it will make your job much easier.

May Blessings and Joy Abound,

Rev. Toni G. Boehm, Ph.D. UWM Certified Transition Ministry Consultant
National Coordinator Ministry Skills and Transition Ministry Support Team 816-304-3044 revtboehm@aol.com
Concepts adapted from an article by Thomas Rainer