Ministerial Transition

WBUUC began a journey in ministerial transition in the summer of 2021 with Lead Minister Rev. Victoria Safford’s departure. This page on our website will house updates and documents related to the ministerial transition. When a Search Committee is established (likely in the late spring 2022) to search for a new, settled Lead Minister, its communications will be housed here.

If you have questions about the ministerial transition, please contact Rev. Roger Bertschausen,

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Meet the Transition Team

The Transition Team is one of the key components of the interim ministry process. It is important to have a specific group that has no other agenda than to assist the Interim Lead Minister and the congregation as they seek to use the time between settled ministries effectively.

The Transition Team advises, consults, and assists the Interim Lead Minister in several central tasks of interim ministry:

  • Understanding the congregation—e.g., its history with ministers, practices, patterns, strengths and challenges
  • Identifying and exploring areas for development during the interim period
  • Developing work plans for identified areas for development
  • Educating the congregation about interim ministry and that the transition ultimately is the work of the congregation
  • Helping set the table for the Search Committee’s work
  • Helping to navigate any conflicts that arise

To summarize, the Transition Team is a thought partner for the Interim Minister and a team that works with the Interim Minister in navigating and executing the work of the interim period.

Members of the Transition Team are: Katie Barrett Wiik, Mena Hautau, Paige Hietpas, Steve Kahn, Bob Meyenburg, and Sheryl Niebuhr. The team will work with the Interim Lead Minister, Rev. Roger Bertschausen.



Roger’s Recombobulation Area Articles


Summary of “Chats with Roger” Sessions

I’m grateful to the 30+ people who participated in eight “Chats with Roger” or set up separate times to talk. These conversations took place in late August/early September 2021.

After brief introductions, I invited each person in the Chat with Roger groups to share a response to three questions:

  • What do you love most about White Bear UU Church (WBUUC)? (Yes: I pushed them to name just one, top thing they loved most.)
  • What most worries you about WBUUC at this moment in time and as you look ahead over the ministerial transition?
  • What one thing do you think I should know up front that hasn’t already come up in our conversation today?

This being a group of Unitarian Universalists, there was not surprisingly a very wide range of opinions and ideas expressed. This summary will not catalogue all of the thoughts and perspectives people shared but will instead focus on overall themes that emerged more frequently.

The most frequent response to “What do you love most about WBUUC?” was the powerful sense of community. Several lifted up acceptance, inclusion and welcome as central to the WBUUC community.

Closely behind in frequency to the “What do you love most?” question was WBUUC’s spiritual focus. Several lifted up the aesthetic beauty of the building, music, and visual art as central to WBUUC’s spiritual focus. Several also lifted up balancing the inner spiritual focus with outer social justice efforts. That balance point was appreciated by many (though not all—a few voiced concern about the church veering too much into a social justice focus since 2016). Still others lifted up the free search and love of truth as key to this spiritual focus.

The most frequent response to “What worries you the most?” was losing people and getting smaller.

This was closely followed by worries about the loss of three key staff members while COVID-19 is still upending things—and the particular concern about WBUUC’s music program with the retirement of its two longtime leaders.

Third in frequency was worry about keeping people engaged and connected during the transition and continuing COVID challenges. There was particular concern about the loss of a great deal of the church’s usual programming due to the pandemic.

Several people also mentioned fear of the congregation becoming fractured or at least less cohesive. There was concern expressed by a few about people at WBUUC—like most of the U.S.—losing the ability to compromise.

One very striking feature of the conversations was how many longtime members lifted up WBUUC’s persistent resilience over the years. Some noted that the congregation had a very successful search when it called Rev. Gail Seavey in 1990 even though the departure of the previous minister was difficult. Some of the same folks who have been at WBUUC since at least the 1980s as well as some who joined after Rev. Seavey arrived noted the successful call of Rev. Victoria Safford even though the interim period following Rev. Seavey’s departure was tumultuous. In both cases, WBUUC moved forward energetically and successfully into the new ministry without hardly losing a beat.

I am so grateful to everyone who participated in these sessions! I learned a lot from you—and what I learned will help shape my work during the interim period.



Coping with Transition Workshop Introduction Video

Sheryl Niebuhr’s introduction to the Coping with Transition Workshop hosted in October 2021.



UUA Transition Resources

A Culture Change by Rev. David Pyle, Regional Lead



Covenant of Relationship with Rev. Victoria Safford

Covenant of Relationship with Rev. Victoria Safford