Prayer for a Congregation Going into Search

Today’s sermon focused on my little church’s big vote to give a formal charge to form an official committee to search for their next minister.  It was a rather mediocre sermon, attempting to root this important work in congregational polity/Cambridge Platform of 1648, all sorts of spiritual seeking, and the search for climate change solutions.  Over-reach, anyone?  I will refrain from posting it here.  However, I thought this prayer to the congregation might be of interest.  I found few of this ilk on the internet — in fact, only Christ-centered ones, so here is my offering to the Unitarian Universalist world on this topic.  After I spoke each stanza, the congregation responded “May it be so.”

For the Search Committee:

May you listen to understand, rather than to respond.  May this listening be with the ears of many, rather than just your own ears.  May you remember each time you write an email, take a phone call, or attend a meeting, you are doing so not as your own person, but as a representative of this congregation.

May you articulate all the right questions to ask at all the right times.  May you find the courage to ask those questions that should be asked, but might be awkward or have gone long unspoken.

May you honor confusion and seek guidance without embarrassment or resentment.

May you find the energy to check your email regularly, as well as to respond promptly, and to remember to click reply-all.

May your curiosity and enthusiasm rarely waver and when it does, may another member’s energy buoy you.

May you have the capacity to deftly avoid questions from fellow congregants, members and friends, as well as interested community members, or even members of your own families, in order that you might maintain the integrity of confidentiality.

May you feel the gratitude and appreciation of your fellow congregants as you enter into and engage this essential work.

For the Congregation:

May you express your gratitude and appreciation to the search committee for their efforts and for the time they have taken from other parts of their lives to contribute to the well being of this place and this people.

May you take the time to thank the important people in their lives, who are also contributing to this process by letting their loved one spend time on this, rather than on the hundred other things that need their attention.

May you recognize that the search process is more art than science, that it is the work of well-intentioned, smart, thoughtful, invested, perfectly-flawed human beings.  While they are willing to take on this work, we all hold responsibility for the decisions and choices that lay ahead.

Should anyone forget and ask a question that crosses the boundaries of confidentiality, may none take it personally when there is no reply or when the reply is not what you were hoping for.

May you ensure that this congregation has the proper resources – both treasure and souls – to support not only the search process, but the hiring of the minister who best meets the spiritual needs of this place and people.


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