Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs, with Answers) about Hiring an Acting Music Director for UCM
1) How did the church arrive at this moment of hiring an acting music director, and is this a permanent position? What is the difference between Interim, Acting, and Permanent Music Director positions?
The Board and Executive Team (ET) of UCM are being cautious about filling the very important position of Music Director because we are in unprecedented times and cannot be sure what skills and qualifications are needed. There are opportunities among the challenges of the Co-Vid 19 pandemic. Each change helps us assess and respond to different aspects of the challenges and opportunities, as follows:
- Interim: CoVid caused the church to lose its beloved Music Director Dick Riley, whose experience and expertise and preference is for leading in-person choirs, not virtual choirs. When we could no longer sing together in person, he retired (end of June, 2020). The UCM leadership decided it would be best to hire someone trained to help congregations transition from one permanent Music Director to another – e.g., fill an Interim position. That director — Kellie Walker-Hart — will complete her contract at the end of June, 2021.
- Acting: Over the coming year UCM is likely to open the building in phases to varying degrees, with a continuing need to communicate over Zoom or other virtual platforms. This technology offers possibilities for sharing a greater diversity of music, but the congregation and church leadership need more time to determine what we collectively want to do on an ongoing basis. The music program and director will be significantly affected by the decisions to be made. An important aspect of transitioning between permanent staff members in a particular role is engaging in visioning for the future and ensuring that the congregation’s hopes and dreams are articulated. This visioning process will be easier to undertake once we are able to be in-person together. Thus, it is premature to hire a Permanent Music Director at this time.Many people in the congregation may remember that we used a similar process for hiring Liza Earle-Centers. She started as our Acting Director of Religious Education (DRE). She was hired just as the Executive Team and Religious Education Committee(s) were starting to re-envision with the congregation what should be happening in Sunday School and for adult RE. This resulted in a new approach, job description and hiring process that led to Liza being chosen as the new permanent Director of Life-span Religious Education (LRE).
- Permanent: After the church clarifies the path it intends to take in the post-CoVid future, a permanent Music Director will be hired, probably after another year. The Acting Music Director will be welcome to be considered for the permanent position at that time.
2) What is the process for hiring someone into the Acting position? The ET, minister, and a temporary Hiring Committee created a job description (available on the UCM website at tinyurl.com/UCM-Acting-Music-Director) and are advertising it in Seven Days in print and online, also through the local Front Porch Forums. Though the announcement is also being posted with the national Association for UU Music Ministries, we think a 16 hrs/week position is most likely to appeal to people who already live nearby. Starting in late May or early June the Hiring Committee will review applications and hold interviews. The committee is soliciting broad church and choir input to determine the qualities and qualifications which will guide our decision. The Hiring Committee will then recommend a candidate to the ET, which – if in agreement – will seek Board approval. Though the committee will be transparent about the steps we are taking in the hiring process, any information about applicants will remain strictly confidential. In keeping with hiring best practices, no information will be shared about any candidate other than the Board’s announcement of the chosen Acting Director of Music.
Before inviting anyone to participate in an interview, the Hiring Committee asked the congregation for feedback about the kind of music program and director desired for FY2022. We reviewed the results of a survey specifically of choir members and created another short survey for the broader congregation. (You can click here to still answer 3 questions: https://forms.gle/dAxVrX11NcBEjfHp7.) We advertised and then held a Zoom focus forum on May 19 to speak with UCM members and friends with questions or feedback to share.
3) Will preference be given to the hiring of church members or friends? Some churches prohibit their members from applying to become employees but UCM does not. Members and friends of UCM are welcome to apply. No preference will be given to them over other qualified candidates.