Ministerial Transition

Announcing Our New Lead Minister: Rev. Jessica Clay

revjesscircleAfter an overwhelming positive congregational vote on May 7, White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church is proud to announce that we have called Rev. Jessica Clay into ministry with us! She will join us as our new settled lead minister in August 2023.

Learn more about Rev. Jessica.




Please join us for Candidating Week, April 30 through May 7

You’ll have a chance to hear Rev. Jessica Clay preach both Sundays, meet her during the week, and vote to call her into ministry with us on May 7.

Here’s the full schedule with registration links below. Download the schedule here

Sunday Worship & Coffee Hours
Sunday, April 30 at 9 & 11am
Hear Rev. Jessica preach at Sunday Services and meet her during coffee hour

Conversations with Rev. Jessica on Zoom
Monday, May 1 from 7-8:30pm
Please come with curiosity and questions! Sign up here.

Conversations with Rev. Jessica on Zoom
Tuesday, May 2 from 3-4:30pm
Please come with curiosity and questions! Sign up here.

All ages dinner in the social hall & Conversations with Rev. Jessica in the sanctuary/on Zoom
Wednesday, May 3 from 5:30-8:30pm
Please come with curiosity and questions! Sign up here.

Conversations with Rev. Jessica (includes a light lunch)
Thursday, May 4 from 11am-1pm
Please come with curiosity and questions! Sign up here.

Meet & Greet with Rev. Jessica
Saturday, May 6 from 9am – Noon
Drop into the social hall to meet and speak with Rev. Jessica (no advance signup needed)

Sunday Worship 
Sunday, May 7 at 10am
Hear Rev. Jessica preach at our single Sunday Service

Special Congregational Meeting, Vote, and Reception
Sunday, May 7 starting at 11:30 a.m.
WBUUC members can vote to call Rev. Jessica into ministry with us;

Questions about the process? Check out our FAQ page or reach out to



Learn More About Our Search For a New Lead Minister

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.

If you have questions about the ministerial transition, please contact Interim Lead Minister, Rev. Roger Bertschausen, or the Ministerial Search Committee at

Click a resource item below to go to it.



How We’ll Find Our Next Lead Minister

Now that we’re in the second year of our interim ministry with Rev. Roger Bertschausen, our search for a new settled lead minister has begun.

Our congregation has selected and entrusted a search committee to shepherd the process (see below to meet our team) as we follow the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) annual structure and timeline.

Here’s an overview of how this year will go and the role our members and friends will play:

September through November: The listening phase

The congregation’s main role in this search will be to give the Ministerial Search Committee their perspectives this fall, providing them with the insights they need to tell our story in order to show potential candidates who we are and who we hope to become, and to articulate what the congregation as a whole needs in a lead minister.

Many members and friends offered their insights this fall through two opportunities recommended by the UUA: a congregation-wide survey and a series of cottage meeting conversations. Here’s a summary of the search team’s findings: Congregational Record Summary

The Ministerial Search Committee may reach out to congregants to support the process in other ways. For example, members and friends are also invited to the Beyond Categorical Thinking workshop on September 24 — a chance for us to consider what biases and experiences shape our desires for a lead minister. (If you missed the workshop, you can watch the recording here:

By the end of November, the Ministerial Search Committee will have drawn from these sources and more to put together and submit our official Congregational Record — a robust and transparent collection of reflections, data, information about our congregational life and history, and anticipated needs for a minister as we focus on our future. Searching ministers will spend the month of December reading these records and deciding where to apply.

January through May: The discernment phase

To ensure a fair and equitable process, the discernment phase will be largely confidential, held and moved forward by the Ministerial Search Committee.

In January, the UUA will release interested applicants’ information to all search committees. Our Ministerial Search Committee will rely on the information gathered from the congregation in the fall to guide their discernment as they begin interviews.

In February and March, the Ministerial Search Committee will spend weekends with three or four candidates for in-depth interviews and conversations. Again, our Ministerial Search Committee will draw on what they heard from the congregation to ensure mutual fit.

In the spring, the Ministerial Search Committee will decide whether or not to bring one candidate forward for a congregational vote of approval. If they find a minister that is right for our congregation in this moment, and this minister accepts our offer, the candidate will spend ten days with the congregation in April. The UUA says this is most often a celebratory and joyful homecoming.

At the end of the week, the congregation will vote whether or not to accept the Ministerial Search Committee’s candidate and call the minister. Given the trusted process, the months of congregational input in the fall, and the Ministerial Search Committee’s commitment to their congregation, it is extremely rare for a congregation to vote no at this point.

If no minister meets the needs of our church during this process, or the congregation votes no in the spring, we would enter into another year of search, likely with a new interim minister. But Rev. Roger and the Ministerial Search Committee are optimistic — we think ours will be a desired position because of the reputation and health of the church, the quality of our staff, our great relationship with our interim minister, and the fair compensation and benefits package we hope to offer.

We want to keep you up to date on the search! Sign up to receive WBUUC’s eNews or check out our updates for the latest news and ways to participate.



Meet the Ministerial Search Committee


The Ministerial Search Committee (l to r): Back row – Klay Eckles, Dana Boyle, Steve Kahn, Center row – Heather McLean, Debra DeBroux, Molly Ryan, Front – Ellie Rogers

Dana Boyle (she/her)
I’ve been a member of WBUUC for 10 years. I sing in the choir, have served on the Pledge/Development/Auction Committees, our Board, Earth Ministry, and Rev. Jack’s ministerial advisory committee. This church strongly supports my spiritual growth and commitment to social and environmental justice. My career was largely spent in business development as a Trade Commissioner at the Canadian Consulate General in Minneapolis and in community engagement for a large trade association.

Debra DeBroux (she/her)
Since arriving in 2017, I have been a member of a few committees and have taken about four church courses. I have facilitated Zoom breakout groups during cyber social hour. I WAS a professor of agronomy for 25 years, but am now quite happy in retirement. Mena and I have been super-glued for 28 years. We live in Stillwater.

Klay Eckles (he/him)
I’ve been a church member for many years, serving on the Building Expansion Committee, the Board, the Development Committee, and the Auction Committee. I’m a Municipal Engineer and Project Manager. I also volunteer to serve on the Board of the Brown’s Creek Watershed District and coach the Stillwater mountain bike team. I live with my wife Joanna in Stillwater.

Steve Kahn (he/him)
My wife, Jackie Metelak, and I have been involved with WBUUC for 35 years. I taught OWL (Our Whole Lives) in Religious Education, served on the Pledge, Endowment and Financial Oversight Committees, and served as Board President. I’m also involved with men’s programs, a series of initiatives that include weekly discussion/support groups, semiannual weekend retreats and hiking/biking opportunities. Before retiring I was a psychologist who worked with children and families.

Heather McLean (she/her)
I’ve been a member of WBUUC for approximately five years. I have served on the Sanctuary Committee, and I co-facilitated a class centered around the book My Grandmother’s Hands. I’m a medically retired police officer who worked primarily in South Central Los Angeles. My background is certainly a bit different from most in our church, but my personal experiences fuel my passion about issues such as immigrant rights, gun control, social justice, access to health care and mental health treatment.

Ellie Rogers (she/her)
I came to WBUUC in 1999, the year I became a teenager. Back then, I participated in youth group, coming of age, Our Whole Lives, and as the board youth representative. Returning as an adult, I’ve served as a Coming of Age mentor and worship associate. In my professional life, I work in communications at an environmental nonprofit, and I write. My partner and I are grateful to be able to bring our daughter (and another on the way!) to this church.

​​Molly Ryan (she/her)
I’ve been a member of WBUUC for five years and have served previously on the Cookie Committee, 2nd Sunday Welcome Team, as a facilitator for Cyber Social Hour, as a worship associate and as co-chair of the Nominations and Leadership Development Committee. I’ve participated in Wellspring and Transgender Inclusion as well. The WBUUC community is beloved to me, and I am honored to be called by you to be on the Search Committee.



ROGER’S RECOMBOBULATION AREA: Ministerial Transition Timeline – 02.09.22

In spite of continuing challenges from the pandemic, the congregation is making good progress in this time of ministerial transition. It feels like we are on target for this to be a two-year transition. That timetable will include the creation and launch of a Search Committee later this spring. That group will build a profile of the congregation to share with prospective candidates for Lead Minister. That profile will include an overview of WBUUC’s history, a sense of the qualities, characteristics, and skills the congregation is looking for in a new Lead Minister, and a distillation of aspirations the congregation has for its next chapter. Everyone in the congregation will have ample opportunity to give input that will help the Search Committee build the profile.

The Search Committee will get to know ministers who are interested in the position starting in December. It will slowly and carefully narrow the list until there are approximately three finalists. The Search Committee will spend a weekend with each of the finalists. In April 2023, the Search Committee will present a candidate to the congregation. The candidate will come for ten days shortly after, lead services on consecutive Sundays, and meet with all sorts of WBUUC committees and groups and teams. At the end of the ten days, there will be a congregational meeting where every voting member will have the opportunity to vote on whether to call the candidate as WBUUC’s next Lead Minister.

We are getting a head start on building the profile of WBUUC for the search process with the Living Legacy History Project on February 20. I hope a LOT of you register for and participate in this event. All of you are part of the history and present of WBUUC. You all should have a voice in telling the story of WBUUC. We need your help with this!

Read other Roger’s Recombobulation Area Articles



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, Bob Meyenburg, and Sheryl Niebuhr. The team will work with the Interim Lead Minister, Rev. Roger Bertschausen.



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