What is co-ministry? How does it work?

Co-ministry is where two ministers share a single minister position. Co-ministry has worked well for many congregations, because it brings two perspectives and sets of skills and interests together into a single role. In fact, when the search committee asked UUA denominational executives for input on potential problems with co-ministry, the executives cited that it was often hard for congregations to get used to a single minister after co-ministers retire or leave. (We thought that was a high-quality problem.) For more information about co-ministry, please see “About Co-Ministry,” on our website. 

How will they divide up the job? How will they handle vacations and days off?

Revs. Scott and Anya will be sharing the senior minister role. Together they will work at least 40 hours a week for our congregation. They will maintain a schedule of regular, posted, weekly office hours, spread over the course of the week. Office hours may include a combination of hours at UUCM and in other locations as appropriate, to be accessible to staff and a wide range of members of the congregation. They will also be available at other times by appointment. Together, Revs. Scott and Anya will be responsible for the day-to-day allocation of their time.

In accordance with UUA guidelines and standard practice for ministers, Revs. Scott and Anya will maintain one day per week free of all congregational responsibilities and one additional day devoted to study and writing, during which the co-ministers would be available only for emergencies.

As a married couple, they plan to take vacation and their weekly days off together.

They will preach approximately three times per month, as has been typical for Senior Ministers in our congregation and in most UU congregations. This is also in line with the UUA recommended contract. They expect that they will each preach by themselves sometimes and together sometimes.

Revs. Scott and Anya have created a sample guide outlining the areas of congregational life they each might focus on, as well as the areas they will share to a greater extent. (This is posted on their website as the “Co-Ministry POC” on this page.) Final decisions about who does what will be made in consultation with the congregational leadership and will be revisited from time to time as the congregation’s needs change and skills and interests develop. An approved version of the final document will be readily available to congregants in the UUCM office and website for easy access.

We will covenant with Revs. Scott and Anya to provide them with flexibility in ordering their work life and fulfilling their responsibilities to ensure a successful ministry. From time to time, either Rev. Scott or Rev. Anya may temporarily fulfill a greater portion of the senior minister responsibilities, with board consultation.

Revs. Scott and Anya do not plan to share an email address but will be in frequent contact throughout each day to ensure that each other is informed.

Who will preach once a month when Revs. Anya and Scott are off?

As is our current practice, the Worship Committee will be responsible for securing guest preachers and organizing lay-led services. In anticipation of having only one senior minister (or senior minister position, in this case) next year, the Finance Committee has increased the budget for pulpit supply.

When they will start?

Their contract starts August 1. Their first Sunday preaching may be a few weeks after that, after they get settled.

How much are we paying? Does it cost more to have co-ministers?

We are paying within the range recommended by the UUA for the senior minister role, the size of our congregation, and cost of living in our geographic region. As co-ministers who are sharing a single full-time position, Revs. Scott and Anya will share the total salary allocated by UUCM for the senior minister role. Professional expenses (e.g., travel to General Assembly) are established in the contract at 10% of salary. Retirement plan contributions are also 10% of salary, so they are not higher with co-ministry.

Co-ministry will result in higher costs for health benefits. UUCM’s standard contract, following recommended guidelines from the UUA, pays 80% of the cost of health insurance for the senior minister and 50% for the minister’s spouse. In this case, since the spouse is also a senior minister, UUCM will pay 80% of the cost of health insurance for both Rev. Scott and Rev. Anya. This additional healthcare expense is expected to be $2,500 to $3,500 annually.

What is happening with Rev. Judy’s role as Associate Minister?

The search committee was only charged with finding a new called senior minister, not with replacing Rev. Judy. The rationale for this was that the chosen senior minister would wish to have input on the choice of associate minister and/or other staffing options.  

Therefore, in order to provide the new senior minister and the congregation with flexibility, the board of trustees decided on a transitional staffing plan in January 2017. The board is moving forward with this plan. Here is a summary of the transitional staffing plan:
–Retaining our current RE Coordinator, Iris DeLaPaz
–Not immediately replacing the Associate Minister vacancy
–Hiring a half-time Director of Religious Education (DRE) on a two-year contract
–Hiring a half-time Membership & Congregational Life (M&CL) Director on a two-year contract
–Leaving the Senior Youth Coordinator position vacant for the time being
–The Senior Minister assumes responsibility for covenant groups.

In the past and during this interim period, we’ve had two ministers, a Senior Minister and an Associate Minister. Is there a possibility for Revs. Anya and Scott to expand their time and scope of responsibilities so that they are two people sharing two roles?

The search committee was not charged with finding a replacement for Rev. Judy, only with finding a new senior minister. As noted above, the board will proceed with its interim plan to hire two part-time positions, a DRE and a Membership & Congregational Life director. During the first two years of Rev. Anya and Scott’s ministry, they and the board will likely have many conversations about how our staffing can best meet the congregation’s needs now and in the future.

How will Revs. Scott and Anya be involved in Religious Education?

As senior minister, they will supervise religious education along with all other aspects of congregational life. Rev. Judy’s current role in children’s RE will be filled on an interim two-year basis by the part-time Director of Religious Education that the board is now hiring. Additionally, Iris DeLaPaz will stay on staff as RE Coordinator. Responsibility for Adult RE will move to the part-time Director of Membership and Congregational Life, while responsibility for covenant groups will move to the senior minister. Revs. Scott and Anya love adult RE, so expect new opportunities in this area.

Will there be a gap over the summer when we will have no ministers on staff? Who should we go to for pastoral care during this time?

Rev. Judy’s last day is June 30. Rev. Justin concludes his service on July 31, but will take vacation through the month of July. The new ministers start August 1.
 The Worship Committee has already planned Sunday services for the month of July. For pastoral care, congregants should get in touch with the pastoral care committee by contacting the office. Rev. Justin will be contacted on vacation in the event of a death in the congregation.

Since Revs. Anya and Scott will often be available to serve at Sunday services together, will this decrease the opportunities for congregants to serve as worship associates?

Revs. Anya and Scott greatly value the participation of worship associates in the planning and delivery of worship, and expect that this role will continue.

What happens if there is trouble in their relationship and/or one of them wants to leave?

Revs. Scott and Anya have been married for 10 years and have long had a goal to be co-ministers in one congregation. This is their dream job. Our proposed contract with them allows for either party to end the agreement with 90 days’ notice (in the case of dismissal, a two-thirds vote of the congregation would also be required). The contract also specifies that if we terminate one we must terminate the other, and if they leave, they leave as a couple.  

How did we choose these ministers as our candidate?

Out of 24 applicants, 11 Skype interviews, 4 extensive weekends, the seven diverse search committee members unanimously chose Revs. Anya and Scott as their top candidate. They stood out from the beginning as being thoughtful, spirited, committed, mature, and warm. We loved our weekend with them, which was the first of our four weekends with pre-candidates. During each subsequent weekend, although we met with ministers who would have brought many gifts to UUCM, we continued to think about how special Revs. Anya and Scott were. After we had finished the four weekends, we all shared our rankings. Revs. Anya and Scott were at the top of everyone’s list. We all felt that they would be an amazing fit for our congregation as senior minister. That made the decision easy!

What attracted Revs. Scott and Anya to UUCM?

We asked them, and among other things, they are excited about:
–Our status as a healthy and vibrant congregation
–Our dedication to Religious Education
–Our outward-looking orientation towards justice (including a balance of advocacy and direct service through initiatives like MESH)
–Beautiful buildings in a central location
–Beautiful town and proximity to New York City
–Vibrant music program
–Right relationship modeled by Search Team and visible on printed materials.
They look forward to finding a home near the congregation.

How does the congregational vote work?

After the second Sunday with the candidates, on May 7, there will be a congregational vote on whether to call the new minister. Only members of UUCM are eligible to vote. Our bylaws specify that a two-thirds vote of those present or those voting by proxy is required to hire a new minister. However, in practice, ministers generally do not accept calls in cases in which the vote to call is less than 90%.

In anticipation of a favorable vote, there will be a party with cake after the vote. Please plan to stay and celebrate!

The Board of Trustees will be in touch with more information about the congregational vote and proxy voting arrangements.

Other questions? Please get in touch with us at search@uumontclair.org.