Category: Ministerial transition

Mark your calendar: Candidating Week at UCV April 23-30

Candidating Week at UCV: April 23 to 30

This is an opportunity for everyone to meet our Candidate for Settled Ministry, and to have conversations in various contexts. Guided by our Covenant, please enjoy and engage with each other and Rev. Shawn, exercising curiousity, active listening, and the expression of concerns, hopes and dreams! Some events are online and some events are live on campus to maximize accessibility. We invite you all to be a part of these important conversations about our future, and to do so with open hearts and minds. This is our time, UCV, so let’s come together and celebrate, share, and commune as the multi-faceted and deeply committed community that we are.

What are we voting on come April 30?

During candidating week, members are voting on:

  • what is best for the whole congregation
  • They are not voting on:
    • whether individuals think they would have chosen the candidate who was identified by the search committee on their own, given what they know about the congregation;
    • whether individuals think, based on two sermons, every sermon the candidate preaches will or will not speak perfectly to the hearts and minds of every single member every single time;
    • whether there might be a better match out there somewhere;
    • whether the candidate is the perfect minister. Ministers come with different skills in worship arts, pastoral care, administrative/organizational work, and social witness presence. No minister will have a high level of skill or interest in ALL of those elements of the ministry. The shared ministry of the congregation will and should shift with the skills and interests of the new minister;
    • what is best for a particular individual within the congregation.

Introducing Rev. Shawn Gauthier, candidate for Settled Minister at UCV

After nearly a year of weekly meetings, cottage meetings, interviews, surveys, reading Ministerial packages, conducting interviews, and traveling to a neutral pulpit, the Search Committee are thrilled to announce that we have found a candidate for our next Settled Minister.

The Rev. Shawn Gauthier (formerly Newton) brings over 30 years of experience working in various staff roles in churches in both Canada and the USA. For the past 16 years, he has served as Senior Minister of the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto.

During his time at First Unitarian, he oversaw a large-scale project in which the church moved locations during a complex, multi-year process. More information on Rev. Gauthier’s extensive work experience can be found here:

The Ministerial Search Committee are energized and excited by Rev. Gauthier’s approach to ministry and worship, and by his deep roots in Unitarian Universalism. He is a gifted speaker with intellectual depth and a great deal of emotional and spiritual intelligence. He is known for being collegial, giving inspiring and uplifting sermons, and working well across all areas of church life. He is also dedicated to social justice, and is warm and approachable with his pastoral care.  

It is our belief that Rev. Shawn Gauthier exemplifies the qualities that our congregation is looking for in a new Settled Minister.  

We look forward to welcoming Rev. Shawn to our campus for Candidating Week, between Apr 23, 2023 and Apr 30, 2023. Stay tuned for more updates from your Ministerial Search Committee and the UCV Board of Trustees.

As always, if you have any questions, please contact [email protected].



A message from Rev. Shawn Gauthier

Dear Vancouver Unitarians,

I am absolutely thrilled to be named as your Candidate for Settled Minister!

It has been a wonderful journey of discovery over these past few months, coming to know UCV through the thoughtful reflections of your Search Committee, in extended conversations with Rev. Steven and Rev. Lara, by reading reams of written materials, and while watching hours and hours of your online worship services, forums, and congregational meetings.  

I am deeply impressed by the depth of your commitment to UCV and to the work of building up a better world. I am moved by the myriad ways you respond to the call of justice. I am inspired by the ways you worship and strive to strengthen the fabric of community at UCV and beyond. In sum, I believe your sense of shared ministry aligns closely with my own. And I feel energized at the thought of the great and life-giving ministry we could undertake together in the years to come.

So, it is with excitement, humility, and gratitude, that I look forward to the time we will share in just a few weeks to explore the possibility of journeying with one another into the future.

Warmest regards,



For a detailed calendar of events and meeting during Candidating Week, please go to our events calendar. 

February Update From the Ministerial Search Committee

Dear Vancouver Unitarians,

Your Search Committee would like to provide a quick update to keep you all in the loop. We, the MSC, received five applications in total. We are now in the interview phase. Things are going well and we are cautiously optimistic. A process of pre-candidating will commence soon, as per the Settlement Handbook which we published in the Members Portal. If all goes according to plan, this will be followed by a candidating week in late April wherein you all will be able to meet and observe the final candidate.
Search committees sometimes decide to make public their entire Congregational Record, and Search committees sometimes decide not to. Both choices are legitimate. For our context, we have made the choice to make public all components of the Congregational Record that were intended to be made public, like the survey results and cottage meeting notes, and to not publish the component that was never intended to be public. The many members who contributed to the creation of the Congregational Record did so with the understanding that the document was for prospective Minister’s eyes only. This understanding provided us with very honest material, something that we were instructed was the most important quality in a Congregational Record. And because folks contributed to this record with the understanding that it would not be made public, we are honouring their trust and this process by not publishing that portion.
As stated, this is common among Search Committees and not at all unusual. Please know we are working hard on behalf of the entire congregation, in good faith, and with love, and we really appreciate your support. As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]. The Ministerial Search Committee is excited for our shared future here at UCV. We remain hopeful that we will be able to present a candidate for our settled Ministry who will be everyone’s Minister, honouring all of our Principles, values, and diverse beliefs.
In faith,
Diane, Carrie, Esmé, Meena, Michael, Nancy, Jenny.

Triumphs and Turmoil: A Community Look Back at UCV’s Ministerial History – Wednesday, January 18, 6:30 – 8:30pm

This January 18th session is in follow-up to the gathering on November 16, 2022, which was first of three planned discussions on UCV’s history of ministry. This series is an initiative of the Ministerial Transition Team (MTT) facilitated by members of the Healthy Relations Team.

We encourage participants to pre-register to help our planning and to receive advance materials whether attending in person or on Zoom.

We will continue to review the timeline of ministry at UCV. The first meeting covered the ministry of the late Rev. Dr. Phillip Hewett and the ministry of Rev. John Quirk. In this Part 2 we will summarize our discussions thus far, including reference to archival material, address questions that may arise, and proceed further in the timeline. As in Session 1, the goal is to elicit brief stories, celebrate particular strengths, clarify differing viewpoints, and where possible address lingering griefs or conflicts about past decisions and actions/inactions related to ministry. We will discuss how problematic issues were addressed, and what processes we have or should have in place now. We’ll reflect on  how the strengths of the ministries along with the challenges and their resolutions have shaped us.


All welcome! Once again, please pre-register here. 


Members: Please get your surveys in!

If you are a UCV member in good standing, you should have received an email with a congregational survey from the Ministerial Search Committee. Your completion of this survey is essential for gathering specific information required for the search process — about our community and about what you are looking for, and perhaps more importantly, what the congregation needs, in a new settled minister. Answers to these questions will help enrich the information that your Ministerial Search Committee shares with ministerial candidates. If you are a UCV member in good standing and have not received the survey by email, check your junk or spam folder for a message from [email protected]. Deadline for completion of the survey is Nov. 6th.

Ministerial Search Committee Update and Timeline

Dear UCVers,

On behalf of the Ministerial Search Committee (Diane Brown, Michael O” Neill, Carrie Mac and Esme, John Boyle, Jenny Malcolm, Nancy Woodham, Meena Wong) I would like to share with you all that we have met twice as a committee, and going forward from here we will be meeting every week. As I am the designated External Communications person, I will be updating you often and of course answering any questions you may have about this process.  Please feel free to contact me anytime at [email protected]

Below is our timeline. Come fall, we will need congregational engagement in a number of exciting ways, including a survey and some cottage meetings. Meanwhile, enjoy the summer, and we look forward to this journey together.

In active faith, Diane Brown


Timeline for Congregations in Search


Phase One  – concluding a ministry

Departure of previous settled minister and selection of an Interim minister

Late Spring (done)

Phase Two – Education and Preparation for Search – First Interim Year

Review congregational by-laws related to ministry


Transitions Coach Visit (UUA appointed)

February – April

Annual Meeting votes

Approve Search committee budget

Appoint Search Committee


Phase Three – search structure – Summer and second interim year

Search Committee retreat with Transitions Coach

May – August

Conduct Congregational Survey

July – September

Conduct Cottage meeting / small group interviews (based on survey results)

September – November

Gather information and create search committee website and record sheet

September – December (absolute due date – December 7)

List of interested ministers received

January 2

Narrowing of interview list

January 2-15

Precandidating weekends

February – March

Final Decision for offers to candidate

April 1

The MTT Recommends ‘In the Interim”

The Ministerial Transition Team (MTT) has been reviewing and guiding the updates to the Ministerial Teams Terms of Reference (TOR). The TORs for some teams have been completed and approved by the Minister, while other teams are in the process of completing their updates. Eventually, all the Team TORs will be available for congregants to review and learn about the work of the various Teams.

One of the books the MTT recommends for learning about an Interim Ministry – its purpose, tasks undertaken, and goals – is ‘In the Interim: Strategies for Interim Ministers and Congregations’ edited by Barbara Child and Keith Kron. We thought it a timely book to recommend as we have one more year of Interim with Rev. Lara.

This book might inspire you to be more engaged in this process, which will help us work with the eventual settled minister as well!

There are copies of the book in the UCV Office that can be loaned out.

Submitted by Cynthia Lam & Elizabeth Dunn

Below is a review of some of the highlights of ‘In the Interim’ by MTT member Leslie Hill:

“The four essays I thought were most succinct and helpful for UCV are:

  • A Different Country by Judith Walker-Riggs
  • Mining, Minding and Making Stories by Pam Blevins Hinkle
  • Coming to Terms with History by David Keyes
  • The Interim Minister as Systems Analyst by Richard A. Nugent

A Different Country

“A peaceful, quiet interim period is one in which interim tasks are not completed, and needful changes do not happen.

Leadership and membership must come to understand the differences between called ministry and interim ministry. One way to increase this understanding is for the interim, the Transition Team, and the Board to talk about the differences explicitly and publicly.”

Mining, Minding, and Making Stories

“Telling our stories is not an end in itself, but an attempt to release ourselves from them, to evolve and grow beyond them. We tell our stories to transform ourselves; to learn about our history and tell our experiences to transcend them; to use our stories to make a difference in our world; to broaden our perspective to see further than normal; to act beyond a story that may have imprisoned or enslaved us; to live more of our spiritual and earthly potential.”  Huffington Post.

Coming to Terms with History

“Every congregation lives in dialogue with its past. Every congregation is strengthened immeasurably by its history, but every congregation has also been deeply wounded by its past. It is both the heir and the victim of its story. Affection transition ministry begins with a long look in the rearview mirror, where we must read the admonition: ‘Objects may be closer than they appear.’”

The Interim Minister as Systems Analyst

“Interim ministry is about inviting the present congregation to envision the congregation of tomorrow. It is about looking at the health of the congregation as a whole as well as each of its component parts. It is about coming to understand the emotions (grief, sadness, anger, disappointment, among others) associated with the end of the previous ministry and navigating the anxiety of looking ahead to the future ministry.”

June Update from the Ministerial Transition Team

The Ministerial Transition Team wishes everyone in our congregation a blissful summer! There’ll be plenty going on around UCV, from kids’ Magic Camp to the IPA movie night coming up. As per usual, most of the congregation’s governance and business-y work will pause for July and August, including the MTT. We’re coming to the break on a high, with the Decision Making Task Force and the Congregational Identity Team both issuing their reports – see more on those below.

A small programming note: in April I reached out to see if anyone was chomping at the bit to facilitate some visioning circles. These visioning circles have been put on hold for now, as they’re not the most pressing need at this stage. Perhaps the next minister will want to engage in something along those lines, but for now our CIT report shows them a clear and fascinating picture of what’s important at UCV. 

The CIT report is the result of well over a year’s hard work. Most members will remember that last year many of us took part in Congregational Identity workshops, where we interviewed each other and dived deep into what this place means to us. The notes from those workshops are the basis for a report that explores who and why we are as a congregation. It will be a wonderful document to reflect on, for our incoming minister and for us. 

The DMTF report is also now available. The DMTF formed in light of the disagreements over the most recent redevelopment project. Their goal was to understand how we currently make big decisions, and how we could do that better. Both these reports should be available online or in print soon, and will definitely have a spot on the EGM agenda, so watch out for them.

To refresh our memories, here’s the five main tasks of a congregation during a ministerial transition.

  1. Claiming and honoring its past and healing its griefs and conflicts.
  2. Illuminating the congregation’s unique identity, its strengths, its needs, and its challenges.
  3. Clarifying the multiple dimensions of leadership, both ordained and lay, and navigating the shifts in leadership that accompany times of transition.
  4. Renewing connections with available resources within and beyond the UUA (and CUC for us).
  5. Enabling the congregation to renew its vision, strengthen its stewardship, prepare for new professional leadership, and engage its future with anticipation and zest.

From the Janus Workbook.  

Having worked at this for two years, we’ve engaged with each of these tasks. In September, we’re refocusing on two that hold significance for UCV, tasks three and five. Clarifying our new organizational model, our leadership structures and potential will be a priority. We want all UCV members to feel comfortable with how we can work together as a congregation, and with where their favourite part of UCV fits into the whole. And as for griefs and conflicts, well, like any century old organization, we don’t not have any of that floating around – as history and as present. Turning our eyes on them again, we can learn and grow together. 

It’ll be a great year, but before it comes, it’ll be a great summer! Do you have any questions? Comments? Enthusiasms? Let me know! Email [email protected] with your thoughts. 


Transition?! Updates on Behalf of the MTT

The Ministerial Transition Team wants to make sure the whole congregation is on the same page with the vital, confusing, and joyful work of our ministerial transition at UCV. We’re in the home stretch! Our last big project is to ask “What’s Next?” To do that, we’re looking for congregants who can facilitate Visioning Circles! These circles will be a time to reflect, share, and let loose all our biggest ideas about what a future at UCV can look like. We want to take all those visions and distill them down to the essentials of what our Search Committee and new minister need to know. Exciting times! Are you interested? Email me below if you are.

Read on to find out what we’ve been up to lately. And to refresh our memories, here’s the five main tasks of a congregation during a ministerial transition.

  1. Claiming and honoring its past and healing its griefs and conflicts.
  2. Illuminating the congregation’s unique identity, its strengths, its needs, and its challenges.
  3. Clarifying the multiple dimensions of leadership, both ordained and lay, and navigating the shifts in leadership that accompany times of transition.
  4. Renewing connections with available resources within and beyond the UUA (and CUC for us).
  5. Enabling the congregation to renew its vision, strengthen its stewardship, prepare for new professional leadership, and engage its future with anticipation and zest.

From the Janus Workbook.  

Right now, the MTT is focussed on making sure UCV’s new organizational design is sustainably implemented. A large part of this undertaking is going over the Terms of Reference for each active committee and team. That may sound like the most boring part of task 3, but it’s actually a wonderful time to reflect on the diversity of passions and projects we have here.

And remember those Rethinking Our Identity workshops from last summer? The information collected is being sifted through by a dedicated team to find the patterns of what’s special about UCV. Are you interested in helping to comb through our members’ stories and memories and find gems? New sets of eyes are always appreciated. Reach out to [email protected] if you can help in this work.

Another continuing project is the History Wall. Now on display in its full glory both online at and in the Hewett Hall alcove, the wall showcases UCV’s path from 1909 to today. And there’s still a space for your new memories to be added if you have them. 

Last but not least, the Decision Making Task Force shared a Preliminary Recommendations report with the MTT and the board in January and is working diligently to complete their full report, which we will share with the whole congregation.

Do you have any questions? Comments? Enthusiasms? Let me know! Email [email protected] with your thoughts.

President’s Column: the Ministerial Search process

 “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose “ 

the more things change, the more they stay the same…

 Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr 


Oh, my! The memories. I’ve called  it my “initiation” into Unitarian organizational life. I’d only been a member for two years but had gotten what a friend called “aggressively involved” at UCV.  The announcement to invite nominations to the search for the next minister had been made and at coffee hour, one of our elders (Sheilah Thompson by name) approached me at coffee hour. 

“Mary, you’ve got to put your name forward. The only people who have volunteered so far are all my age!”  Ahem. Yes, that was 30 years ago, so I am now that age! 

Then, as now, a majority of search committee members are elected by the congregation and then the board looks at “who’s missing”.  So although I was not one of those “first past the post” I was appointed, because I was new. (Just as an aside now it’s recommended that the board simply announce the full slate and not identify who was voted in and who appointed.)

Much has changed since Rev. Phillip Hewett retired! Technology has made some of the tasks much easier, such as creating a survey, sending “packets” and receiving information. A lot of that is now done through a website or pdf documents in a dropbox folder. 

So I share this to say, even if you’re pretty new (or if you’ve been around for a very long time), consider putting your hat in the ring.  From (likely) a group of 7, there’s a need for many perspectives and experience.  

During the time I was serving on the committee, a friend remarked, “That’s a committee designed for conflict.” Don’t get scared! All that means is when you intentionally bring seven people together for a very important task with a high degree of diversity, there will be, by design, a need to have excellent communication and teamwork skills.  

So here am I, with a nod to Sheilah, saying: Please consider this opportunity to serve our congregation by offering to take on the admittedly heavy responsibility to serve on a ministerial search committee.  

Some of the things that have not changed are:

  • You’d be expected to give up any other organizational “jobs” – sing in the choir, garden, attend Sunday services, but no committee or team work
  • You will be under a very high bar for confidentiality. Only one candidate will ultimately be presented to the congregation and you will go to your grave mum about the names of any other ministers who expressed interest
  • You will get to know your fellow committee members deeply (I’m crying as I write this) and it could be your initiation rite to lifelong commitment to our religion.



PS – There will be many opportunities over the next while to learn more and to nominate people, including yourself. Stay tuned!

Click here for information about the upcoming Board Forum on Sunday, March 13.

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