Our New Called Ministers

We are thrilled to announce that by a 99% vote, our congregation called Reverends Anya and Scott Sammler-Michael to be our next senior minister. The votes were 229 in favor, 2 against, and 3 abstentions.

Here are some links from the week:

And here is the motion to call Reverends Scott and Anya, from search committee chair Nancy Felix.

This has been a joyous week! On behalf of the ministerial search committee, we want to thank you for your support of Candidating Week. You showed up, opened your hearts and your homes, baked and cooked and ate. A lot. You asked excellent questions. You shared your concerns. You demonstrated your talents and energy.
Together, we have shown Reverend Anya and Reverend Scott that Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair is a passionate, committed community. We are strong and we are ready for a bold and dynamic future. In short, we are “awesome!”

The decision that we ask you to make this morning is clear and compelling. Anya and Scott are an incredible match for what we were seeking. To us, they just feel right.

Before we make the motion to call them to be our next settled minister, we would like to share why the search committee chose them. For the record (and the archives), we want you and the future members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Montclair to know why they are our enthusiastic and unanimous choice:

You told us that you wanted a minister who would lead dynamic worship experiences that make us want to be the change we seek in the world. Last week we heard Reverend Scott preach about thresholds and share his own personal history accompanied by music that touched and inspired us. Today, Reverend Anya demonstrated her talent for creating and delivering a sermon that is moving and engaging.

You told us that our new minister should attract people of all backgrounds and create membership growth. Both Reverend Scott & Reverence Anya have led congregations that have seen impressive growth in both numbers and diversity. They are not afraid to experiment and they understand the need to implement systems and programs that will help us to attract and retain members. They will help us be a community rich in race, sexual orientation, religious background, ages, ethnic backgrounds, and economic levels – inclusive and welcoming to all. Let’s also recognize that with this call, we will have the first female senior minister in our history.

You told us that connection and community are important to you. Many of us are busy and yet we come to UUCM on Sunday mornings for inspiration, challenge, and to connect with and make new friends. Reverend Anya and Reverend Scott will support our efforts to integrate old and new members and to strengthen our our community of love, support, and respect. Under their leadership we will deepen our connections to one another and the communities in which we live.

You expressed a real desire to connect our social activism and service to our religious experience. Building on our rich history promoting justice, we recognize that the work we do is inspired by our faith. Reverend Scott & Reverend Anya believe deeply that justice work is an expression of faith. They will walk the walk beside us while also connecting the many issues facing the world to our spiritual journeys.

You told us that you wanted a minister who would lead collaboratively, respecting lay leadership and staff. We know that Reverend Anya and Reverend Scott deeply care about good governance and caring leadership. They are prepared for the organizational challenges that growth will bring. They will be leaders with a strong voice and a compassionate ear. They will bridge the gap between the day-to-day operations of our congregation and our aspirations.

We have spent the past two years with our ship in drydock. Some repairs were made. Some improvements installed. The ship was being readied for a new captain. After two years, that ship is ready to sail and today, the search committee is pleased to present two phenomenal captains. We hope you agree.

Mr. President and members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair, the Search Committee moves that we call the Reverend Anya and Reverend Scott Sammler-Michael to be our next settled minister.

Nancy’s motion was seconded by Lou Dodge, who served on the committee that found our last senior minister, Reverend Charlie Ortman, in 1995.

Over the next several months, Reverends Scott and Anya will finish their service at their two Virginia congregations. They will start at UUCM on August 1.

Many thanks to the Board of Trustees, the Ministerial Transition Team, and the Negotiating Committee for their leadership; Markus, Stearns, the musicians, and choir for the inspiration; the event hosts and group leaders during Candidating Week for their hospitality; our many bakers, chefs, and shoppers for keeping everyone fed; and Reverend Justin, Reverend Judy, and the UUCM staff for their guidance and help. And most of all thanks to the congregation for being so amazing! We could not have attracted Reverends Anya and Scott if you weren’t so special.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve! We are very excited about our congregation’s future with these ministers.