Frequently Asked Questions About the Settled Minister Process and Candidating Week

It is with great joy and excitement that we have announced Rev. Ian White Maher as our candidate for Settled Minister for MVUC. To ensure that we are all informed and ready for the next steps in this important process, the Search Committee is sharing some answers to questions you may have.

What is Candidating Week and how do I get involved?

Candidating Week–coming up in a few weeks and running from April 30th to May 7th–is a joyful and exciting week in which the congregation will get to know Rev. Ian Maher. He will preach two Sundays in a row and the week between those Sundays will offer a variety of open meetings and gatherings where the MVUC community can get to know Rev. Ian (and where he can get to know us!) and where you can talk to him about your interests and questions. Please come to the events and gatherings! Bring your questions for Rev. Ian and your thoughts about the future of MVUC. Rev. Ian will also meet with current and past congregational leaders and staff during that week.

In putting together this week, we will need some help providing hospitality (including food). This will be a key moment to show Rev. Ian how much we love to get together and how excited we are about the possibilities. We hope that all members and friends of MVUC can attend at least one event during the week. Please stay tuned for the full schedule and to learn about the chances to get involved! 

To learn more about Rev. Ian, please see his Web site:

What should I know about voting to call our candidate as our new Settled Minister?

Candidating Week comes to a thrilling conclusion on the final Sunday (May 7) with an in person congregational vote. Our bylaws call for a vote by at least fifty percent of MVUC members (absentee ballots will be made available for those who cannot attend in person) as well as at least 90% approval for a successful call. This very high level of support is aligned with what most UUA ministerial candidates deem essential for a positive beginning to their ministry. 

MVUC members are eligible to vote. Please plan to come to church on Sunday May 7 or arrange for an absentee ballot. 

What happens if we don’t achieve a 90% approval vote at the meeting?

If the 90% threshold is not achieved, the UUA recommends that the congregation wait at least another year and we would start the search process over by appointing a new Search Committee. The congregation would have an additional year (or more) of interim ministry and would also need to find a new interim minister.

When would Rev. Ian start?

If Rev. Ian is called to be MVUC’s new Settled Minister, he would start work on August 1st, 2023.

Under UUA guidelines, why aren’t Interim Ministers eligible to succeed themselves as Settled Ministers for the same congregation?

The UUA has developed a thorough and thoughtful process, honed from years of experience assisting congregations with finding their next Settled Minister. In this process, after a Settled Minister leaves, an Interim Minister leads the congregation for a two-year period to allow the Search process for a new Settled Minister to occur and for the congregation to develop and reset its expectations for the next phase of congregational life.

During their two-year tenure, an Interim Minister is tasked with, among other things, helping a congregation transition from its relationship with the departed minister to its anticipated relationship with a new Settled Minister. The Interim Minister is far better able to assist the congregation, and the congregation can better assess its needs, if the two are not considering each other for a possible long-term match.

For these reasons, within our UU denomination, the settled minister search process precludes an Interim Minister from being considered as a candidate for the Settled Minister role. This principle in the UUA’s ministry transition process was established for sound reasons and is well-known to both Interim and Settled Ministers.

Because this process is clear to everyone, Interim Ministers enter into their short-term ministries understanding their role, and they know that the rules are designed to help avoid conflicts of interest that could exist if they were shepherding a congregation’s transition while vying for the Settled Minister position.

What makes our candidate ideal for MVUC? 

We heard from you that you want a minister who, among other things, will bring a sense of joy to MVUC; who will comfort and inspire us; who will foster and facilitate our sense of community; who will challenge us to change and grow; and who will support and inspire our social justice programs and activities. The word cloud below represents what our community described as the qualities for our choice of a Settled Minister. We believe it describes what Reverend Ian has to offer us.

How will our candidate meet the needs that the congregation highlighted?

After getting to know him, the Search Committee found Rev. Ian deeply connected to the spiritual aspects of our faith and experienced his sermons as interesting, dynamic and inspirational. His commitment to social justice and anti-oppression work will match the passion of our congregation and challenge us to be a part of the larger community. His authenticity and warmth will inspire us to connect with each other. He has energy and passion and as a former colleague of his shared with us about him, “He has a hunger for sharing the faith and joining others in community in being spiritually grounded witnesses to the transforming power of Unitarian Universalism.” Ask him yourself during Candidating Week!

How did the Search Committee pick our candidate?

There was a lengthy process with many steps. Based on the surveys, focus groups, and other congregational materials we collected last fall, we prepared a lengthy set of documents about MVUC for review by prospective candidates. Following the review period, a number of applicants submitted their materials to be considered for our Settled ministry position. 

The Search Committee then conducted interviews with many of these applicants as well as their references. After a period of consideration, the UUA required us to select a small number of applicants as our “pre-candidates.” 

For each of the pre-candidates, the Search Committee arranged for a three-day visit during which we could meet, speak with the pre-candidate, and observe the pre-candidate deliver a sermon at a UU church in the greater Washington area. During each visit, the pre-candidates were given a tour of MVUC’s buildings and grounds and had extensive discussions and an interview with the Search Committee. After each pre-candidate’s visit, the Search Committee conducted more interviews with additional references provided by the pre-candidates and others connected with the UUA. Only after this process did we make a decision on the best candidate.

Why isn’t there more than one candidate for consideration by the congregation as our Settled Minister?

Over many decades, the UUA has learned through hard experience that asking congregations to publicly debate among multiple candidates causes damaging levels of ill-will and divisiveness and is not healthy for either candidates or congregational communities. 

For this reason, the Search process began with a deliberate process by the congregation to form a thoughtful Search Committee and to forge a covenant in good faith between the congregation and the Search Committee. In this process, the congregation places its faith and trust in the Search Committee it chooses and designates to make a wise choice on the congregation’s behalf.  

The Search committee gathered data and information through a survey of members, as well as Focus Groups and Cottage Meetings, centering their Search on the articulated needs and desires of the congregation for its new leadership, and used our interviews with candidates to explore their fit with those criteria and the congregation’s hopes and dreams. Through countless hours of document preparation, interviews, and meetings, we worked to keep the needs and vision of the congregation in mind.