Candidating week update

Dear CVUU members,

The congregation and Board charged the Minister Search Team with the immensely important task of finding our CVUU Settled Minister. The MST has invested 3,200 hours–met and made decisions, prepared materials to introduce CVUU to potential candidates, gotten our input on what we’d like in a new minister, and interviewed candidates. They enthusiastically and with great joy selected as their candidate for Settled Minister, Rev. Viola Abbitt. I’d like to express my and the Board’s heartfelt thank you for the energy, care and dedication of the MST. Their long journey has successfully brought us all to the time for the congregation’s introduction to Rev Viola Abbitt through a candidating week.

Our present COVID-19 environment of social distancing presents a unique challenge for us. We all want to personally interact with Rev Abbitt, get to know her, share our personal hopes and vision for CVUU and introduce her to our active CVUU community. In a recent zoom meeting, the MST, candidate and I were wrestling with how to add the human element to a virtual candidating week and lamenting the lack of interaction and relationship building that is core to selecting a new minister and to the minister’s feeling warmly welcomed. A successful ministerial selection was everyone’s motivation and goal.

The virtual candidating week wasn’t adequate for what we wanted to accomplish. Would it give us the chance to know each other and the knowledge and comfort to make the decision to select her as our settled Minister? Rev Abbitt offered us another option to consider. After the virtual candidating week Rev Abbitt would come to be our Minister under a time limited contract so we could get to know her in person. When it us safe for us to return to in person gatherings,  we would hold an in person candidating week—one where we engage in activities together. The week would conclude with full congregation discussion, discernment and voting on whether to call her for Settled Ministry with CVUU. Upon the congregation’s approval she would become our Settled Minister. If the congregation preferred a different Settled Minister, she would be with us for only one year. 

We felt this was a very generous offer on her part. One that met our needs and hers.

We have begun filling in the details of the offer with Rev Abbitt’s and our expectations. I’d like to share the candidating process we developed together:

  1. We will hold the virtual candidating week from April 26 through May 3 as planned. Opportunities for interaction and engagement will be available for you to participate virtually.
  2. We will hold an in-person candidating week and vote, as is the normal process, within 30 days of our being able to meet together in person. The contract with the candidate for Settled Minister will include this provision.
  3. We will develop a contract that can serve as the terms for the interim time period until we can have an in-person candidating week and vote. If the congregation confirms her selection for the Settled Minister, the contract will continue as the contract for the Settled Minister.
  4. If the congregation prefers a different Settled Minister, the candidate for Settled Minister, Rev Abbitt, will be with us for one year, generally August 1, 2020 to July 31, 2021. 

 What does this expanded process accomplish:

–The congregation and Rev Abbitt will have two candidating weeks (virtual and in-person) to get to know each other before the decision on her becoming our Settled Minister.  

–The in person candidating week will be conducted in the normal format. The candidate for Settled Minister, Rev Abbitt, preaches on the Sundays at the beginning and end of the week. During the week meetings, social events, and dinners will take place to engage congregation members with Rev. Abbitt. On the second Sunday, after the service, the congregation meets as a whole, discusses the decision, and votes on whether to “Call Rev Abbitt to Ministry” at CVUU.  

–With the two candidating weeks, the congregation will have the knowledge to decide confidently and with comfort on a new minister. 

–The candidate will have confidence in CVUU’s vote because she knows we have had time together to get to know each other and envision a future together.  

–The interim contract for one year assures CVUU that we have a minister with us after July 2020 and until we select Rev Abbitt as our Settled Minister or do a search for a different Settled Minister. 

–The one-year contract provides limited, stable employment for Rev Abbitt should CVUU decide not to call her for a Settled Minister.  

–We will have conducted a fair and extensive selection process that meets the needs of the congregation and the candidate for Settled Minister.  

As we near the virtual candidating week, you will receive information about opportunities for participating. For an introduction to Rev. Abbitt, please join in our events planned for the virtual candidating week, April 26 through May 3. 

With excited anticipation I share these steps towards a Settled Minister with you. We have held this dream, worked towards its fulfillment and now we all will be participating in the decision making for our future at CVUU.


Anne Odell, President

Click here for a message from our Ministerial Search Team:

Click her for a full biography of Rev. Viola Abbitt:

Click here for Rev. Viola Abbitt’s website: