Taryn Strauss to Become Acting Senior Minister

Dear UUCA Members and Friends,

We recently learned that, after 12 years of devoted service, Rev. Anthony Makar has been selected by West Shore Unitarian Universalist as their candidate for Senior Minister. Anthony’s last Sunday with us will be June 16. We hope you can join us as we grieve his leaving and celebrate his service.

As I shared with the congregation during our April 7 services, losing a senior minister is never easy, especially when we have built community together for 12 years. Some of us are experiencing pain, anger, abandonment, frustration, anxiety, grief. Please know that your board is walking this path with you and has experienced and will experience many of the same emotions. It is important, in this time of change, to hold each other especially close in love and compassion. Self-soothing is needed. Sharing with each other is needed. Time to process is needed. And action is also needed.

Here’s some background information to help explain the action your board has taken to plan for continuing ministry at UUCA. First, in February Anthony shared with the board that, due to personal goals and desires, he was in search for another UU congregation to serve as senior minister. At the same time it was not clear if the UUA’s Ministerial Fellowship Committee (MFC) would allow Taryn to remain our Associate Minister for another year. Because of this job uncertainty, Taryn also entered into search and shared that news with board leadership in late March.

On March 28 Anthony told the board he was selected as the Senior Minister candidate by West Shore UU and that he was pursuing that opportunity. On April 1 Taryn shared with the board the MFC had determined she could remain another year at UUCA. But she also shared that through her search she had also been selected as the Senior Minister candidate for another UU congregation.

Our UUCA bylaws govern how to identify and hire a called Senior Minister, but they aren’t clear on how to identify and hire a contract Senior Minister. The board reached out to Hildegarde Gray, who was on the search team when our last contract senior minister – David Keys as Interim – was hired. Hildegarde confirmed the board was then responsible for forming a search committee and following the UUA process for identifying and hiring the contract interim senior minister.

This time, we could have participated in the interim search process which begins in late April. But knowing that Anthony was leaving, we did not feel it was, at this uniquely challenging time, in the best interest of the congregation to engage an interim senior minister.

Our primary goal was to maintain some stability and continuity amid all the transitions we are experiencing as a congregation. We also wanted to continue to work with someone who has proven herself wise, experienced with large UU congregations, collaborative in her leadership, and tenacious in her love for UUCA. For this reason, your UUCA board met in emergency session April 3, voted to offer Taryn Strauss a one year renewable contract to serve as our Acting Senior Minister, and she accepted. Taryn will remain in fellowship with the UUA. We hope to complete the final letter of agreement covering her employment as Acting Senior Minister this week, when we will share additional information about her and her plans for UUCA.

The current plan is not to identify and hire another Associate Minister to work with Taryn, but to instead identify and hire a Director of Religious Education to lead that program and free Taryn to focus on other ministries. Stay tuned for more information about that and other developments.

In making this decision your board agonized over the short timeframe we had in which to act and our inability to share with the congregation before action was needed. But the MFC’s meeting calendar and overlap of both Anthony’s and Taryn’s searches made this impossible.

We realize this is news you will need time to process and you may have questions. Please email your questions or comments to board@uuca.org. A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on the board section of UUCA’s website (https://www.uuca.org/board-of-trustees/) will soon post all questions and answers related to Taryn’s new role.

We are excited about UUCA’s future and hope you will continue to walk with us and work with us on this path towards beloved community. Thank you for your continuing commitment to UUCA, and we hope to see you soon.

Together in service,

Carol Ann Arvan, President
UUCA Board of Trustees