Dear next prospective interim church:
We haven’t met yet, but I’m hoping we will! I am currently serving as the Interim Minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis (UUCA) MD until July 2020. I was hired to be their Interim Senior Minister beginning January 2018, following the 34 year ministry of the Reverend Dr. Fred Muir. We’ve accomplished much together! UUCA is in the midst of a search for a colleague of equal standing to serve with Rev. John Crestwell, who was called to serve as the Associate Minister in 2009.
The interim search process begins at the end of April when all churches seeking an interim are revealed. By the first of May, I hope to be interviewing with your Search Team to discern if we are a good match. Although ideally I’d like to stay closer to my home in Charlottesville, VA, I am open to moving if it feels like a good match between my skills and interests and what you need.
Who am I?
If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I love what I do. Working for and with congregations has been, and continues to be one of one of the great joys of my life. For a look at my resume, click here.
During my career, I’ve served as a settled minister to a small (less than 100 member) congregation; and as a senior settled co-minister to a large (550+ member) congregation. In between, I’ve served as a full-time interim minister for a growing congregation (145 members), for a congregation in transition (50 members), and most recently was the Interim Senior Minister for a large congregation of 700 members . Over the years I’ve learned much about congregational life , how to navigate change and invite health in both settled and transitional ministries.
This website introduces you to both sides of me – the side that loves settled parish ministry and the side that enjoys the work of a congregation in transition. I have done and loved both!
My Career in Settled Ministry
I was fortunate to serve two congregations as their settled minister. My first ministry was at the Westside Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, TN from 1994 – 1998. I quickly fell in love with those hard working and dedicated members who, during my tenure with them, moved from a storefront church to realizing the dream of their own building. During those four years, the church conducted a capital campaign, enabling them to build on the land that was previously purchased. I would have stayed longer, but while serving as their minister, I met, fell in love and married my husband, the Reverend Wayne Arnason and moved to Charlottesville, VA. In the year following our marriage, I served as a chaplain resident at the University of Virginia Medical Center (1998 – 1999). From 1999-2000, I served as the Interim Minister at the Glen Allen UU Church of Glen Allen, VA (1999-2000). That congregation was meeting in a school auditorium, but they too, had purchased land and wanted to build their own church home. During my year with them, we broke ground and the next year they built their own building.
During my year at Glen Allen, my husband and I became clear that if an opportunity to serve as co-ministers became available, we would apply for it. In 2000, we were called to be the Senior Co-Ministers at the West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church in Cleveland, OH. I knew that congregation since it was the site of my internship in 1992! It was there that I learned the joys and benefits of a long-term ministry. During our tenure at West Shore, we supervised a major building renovation project, two capital campaigns, and the creation of innovative programs in lay worship leadership, anti-racism training, and adult spiritual development. We had two sabbaticals, one resulting in the publication of our book, “Worship That Works,” (now in its 2nd edition) West Shore is proud to be a teaching congregation and serves as a training church for new ministers. During our co-ministry , we supervised over seven interns and served as mentors for four members who went on to pursue ministry as a career.
There are many benefits to settled ministry. The ability to establish long-time relationships with members is one of the great gifts of parish ministry. We dedicated, married and buried dozens of members; each one having a life story that intersected with our ministry and with the church. My ministry focused on the areas of worship leadership, teaching, pastoral care, and a few key areas of social justice, particularly in anti-human trafficking efforts, women’s reproductive rights, GBLTQ and marriage equality rights and racial justice. All of this work was done in collaboration with members of the church and together, our shared ministry was strengthened.
My Career in Transitional/Interim Ministry
I have served as an Interim/Transitional minister for three very different congregations; Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Glen Allen (1998-1999); Unitarian Universalist Society of Cleveland (2004); and the Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (2015-2017). In Fall 2019, I was accepted as an Accredited Interim Minister, which is the highest level of accreditation available to Interim Ministers.
As interims, we learn that congregations must examine their history, recruit new leadership, renew their mission, strengthen denominational ties and prepare for transitions. These are called the “five developmental tasks” of interim ministry. They are:
1. Coming to terms with your history
2. Discovering a New Identity
3. Encouraging New Leadership
4. Renewing Denominational Ties
5. Committing to New Directions
After having served in three different congregations, I can tell you that engaging with each of these steps is essential to help prepare a congregation for its next chapter. As your interim minister, I would work with your leadership on defining, developing and implementing these tasks. Together, we create a clear outline of the work that you wish to do. Mid-year we evaluate the plan and at the end of year one (assuming this is a two year interim) we evaluate the work done in year one, create a new plan for the second year as you move more deeply into the process of preparing to call your next minister.
Transitional ministry is a special calling, and having lived and served as both a settled minister and as an interim minister, one isn’t better than the other. They are different experiences because they invite relationship-building, leadership, and insight from a minister on different timelines . Both the settled and the transitons minister has the opportunity to meet caring, dedicated and committed members who care deeply about their church, their faith and the lifespan faith development of their children. The difference between an interim and a settled minister is, of course, the fact that the interim work is time-bound from the beginning. What I’ve discovered is that there is no less affection or appreciation for both the minister and the congregation. I’ve felt deeply appreciate of the work I’ve done as an interim and have been happy to see the interim church’s I’ve served to enter their next chapter of congregational life.
Who Are You Outside of Ministry?
Although I’ve lived and worked all over the country, I stayed connected to my home state and town, (Ohio/Akron) and was very grateful to be able to live and close to my parents during the last years of their lives. I’ve been married to the Reverend Dr. Wayne B. Arnason since 1998. For sixteen of our twenty-one of married life we have been Co-Ministers, until Rev. Wayne’s retirement from full-time parish ministry in June 2016. His commitments and interests in retirement allow him to be very flexible in where we might live. We own a home in Charlottesville, VA which is where I will regularly visit during the interim time. I have a grown step-daughter who lives in Atlanta, GA and works for CARE, the International Aid organization with a focus on women and girls’ empowerment. She married Brandon Moulard on April 27, 2019 and is expecting twins in June 2020. My two brothers live on the east and west coasts, and a niece who lives in upstate New York.
What Do You Love (other than ministry, marriage and family)?
I’m enthusiastic about a lot of things! I enjoy being physically active, hiking, biking and swimming and do them as often as I can. I like black coffee and early sunrises and walks with my husband before sitting zazen (meditation) and/or doing a lectio divina prayer practice every morning. I am prone to break out into song without provocation and have been known to tap dance in the kitchen while waiting for my coffee to brew. I’m an amateur musician who is learning to play the piano and re-learning to play the violin. I love films and film festivals. I’m pretty passionate about travel too. I love exploring new environments both close to home and around the world. I’ve enjoyed travelling to New Zealand, Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Iceland, Europe, and China. In 2018, we travelled to Croatia and visited with the Rolinc side of my Croatian ancestry. In Fall 2018, we also made connections with my Rolinc family in the Czech Republic.
I enjoy reading the New Yorker and Atlantic magazines, reading poetry and short stories. In addition to the four books I’ve either written, co-written or edited with Skinner House, I have two additional books in the publishing queue; one on studying the Bible through a liberal religious lens and another on worship, liturgy and preaching.
In 2016 my husband and I downsized to a three bedroom town home with little storage, which means that I can move more flexibly and more cheaply than ever before! It’s a liberating experience to have let go of half our library and most of our furniture, but it feels good to be a little lighter on the planet at this stage in life. We own a home in Charlottesville, VA which we will either keep as a home base during our interim time, or rent out our home for a time if interim ministry calls me away from the Virginia/Maryland/DC area for a time.
I don’t know yet where this journey will lead, but I’m looking forward to exploring your needs, hopes and dreams for your future.
I look forward to meeting you soon!