Recent Communications from the Board of Trustees

April 19, 2018

Dear All Souls,

We wanted to update you on our progress negotiating a fair severance agreement with Rev. Dr. Susan Newman Moore. With the assistance of the UUA, the Board of Trustees and Rev. Newman Moore have agreed to attempt to resolve our differences through mediation in early May without either party waiving any rights under the employment agreement.

The UUA proposed a specific team of two impartial and highly skilled co-mediators affiliated with JAMS, a provider of alternative dispute resolution services. This team, acceptable to both Rev. Newman Moore and the Board, will decide the structure, parameters, and expectations for the session. The fact that the UUA recommended and identified professional facilitators, and the Board and Rev. Newman Moore were able to agree on them, addresses our previously stated concerns around proceeding to mediation. Mediation does not guarantee that we will come to a final agreement, but we are hopeful that a fair severance arrangement can be reached through this professionally structured and facilitated negotiation process.

We are grateful for the UUA's coordination, which allowed the Board and Rev. Newman Moore to thoughtfully and discreetly come to a consensus around a path forward, holding the best interests of the congregation in mind.

Sincerely,
The Board of Trustees
All Souls Church, Unitarian

 

April 12, 2018

Dear Members and Friends,

We are pleased to announce the hiring of Rachel Pfeffer, PhD, as our Interim Executive Director. She joins us April 13 and is anticipated to be with All Souls through the end of 2018. During this time, the Interim Executive Director position will be reporting directly to the Board. 

The Interim Executive Director position will be operational during a period of transition for the Church. Rachel will carry out required business and administrative functions and will also assist the congregation in exploring new opportunities for organizational direction and with recruitment for the next stages of managerial leadership of the Church.

Rachel trained to be an Interim Executive Director at the New York City Support Center for Nonprofit Management. She has led executive director transitions at 10 different social justice organizations over the last decade. In that role, she has helped organizations assess capacity, strengthen finances, cultivate support staff, and develop community in a multitude of ways. In the decade prior to becoming an interim executive director, she founded and directed four youth development organizations working with formerly incarcerated, gang affiliated, LGBTQI, and displaced youth offering leadership training, community-building, and other growth opportunities.

Trustees are deeply grateful to the Board-appointed Ad Hoc Interim Executive Director Search Committee—Phyllis Caldwell, Brian Marshall, and Jenice View—whose work was essential to the effort in recruiting a strong candidate to lead us through this year of transition.  We are also grateful to the staff and to Katie Loughary who spent time interviewing Rachel and orienting her to the work ahead.

Please join us in welcoming Rachel to All Souls Church.

With faith and hopefulness,
The Board of Trustees

 

March 30, 2018

Dear All Souls Congregants,

At our March 28 meeting, Trustees were presented with a petition regarding the separation of Rev. Dr. Susan Newman Moore. We appreciate the spirit in which the petition was brought to us, as we appreciate all input we receive from Church congregants. To those who presented the petition, we understand your frustration, we heard your voices and we apologize for not making that clear to you. We considered the petition during the executive session that evening. The Board did not have questions at the time of the presentation, as we had reviewed the petition the week before and wrote a detailed response to the congregation on March 22. We should have communicated that better, and we are considering ways that we can have a productive exchange with the group in the very near future, outside the constraints of a monthly business Board meeting. 

Over the past few months, we have heard many different and valuable perspectives - through petitions, emails, and quiet conversations - from Church members about the matter of Rev. Newman Moore's departure. We listen to all of you and value the many perspectives present in the congregation, some of which are represented by the petition and some of which are not. To clarify any misperception that may exist, we have been paying Rev. Newman Moore's salary and benefits since she gave notice of intent to separate on January 17, as part of a proposed severance package that amounts to almost $90,000. That offer was rejected. We likewise rejected an offer presented by Rev. Newman Moore's counsel that we felt was unreasonable, and likely unacceptable to the Congregation as a whole. We would consider a more reasonable offer.

This is difficult work and we wrestle with it. We did so again late into the night on Wednesday, and after extensive discussion, we have confirmed our decision as explained in the March 22 letter. Assurances of good faith negotiation - essential to mediation -- are absent in the current environment. The previous attempt at mediation involving the Good Offices failed. Normally, the UUA Good Offices and District Executive would assist in working out a separation agreement but it became clear after the initial mediation with five ministers that the environment was not conducive to further discussions. In addition, our experience is that past representations by the Board have not been accurately portrayed, and we have no assurances that further attempts will be any different. Therefore, we believe treading the same path with more non-binding discussions is not in the best interest of the congregation and will only lead to more strife and faction-building.

If we cannot reach an agreement with Rev. Newman Moore's counsel, we feel the arbitration process is the only way to finalize the matter of severance considering the many varied opinions in the congregation, the proven difficulties in negotiating, as well as the other factors previously outlined. The arbitration process, which is standard in ministerial contracts, uses UUA ministers as they understand ministerial compensation and employment practices. Rev. Newman Moore and the Church each choose an arbitrator. The UUA has informed us that this process has been used successfully in another complicated ministerial departure. It brought an end to the turmoil that was enveloping the congregation. We seek the same for our beloved Church.

We continue to work towards a fair and just resolution and hope that the congregation, despite the multitude of viewpoints, will do the same.

Sincerely,
The Board of Trustees
All Souls Church, Unitarian

 

March 22, 2018

Dear All Souls Church,

Since January, when Rev. Susan Newman Moore announced her intention of separating from All Souls Church, the Board of Trustees and Rev. Newman Moore have been unable to reach an agreement regarding the terms of that separation. The contract that Rev. Newman Moore signed when she accepted her ministerial position specifies that disputes such as this must go to arbitration, but she has declined to participate in that process. Rev. Newman Moore has asked to engage in further negotiations facilitated by a congregant, and we also understand that some congregants would prefer that we seek alternative methods of resolving the dispute. We hear these suggestions, and the concerns in which they are grounded, and we assure you that we are diligently working towards the same goal: a just, fair -- and final -- resolution for Rev. Newman Moore and the Church. But for the reasons we lay out here, the Board believes it is not in the best interests of the congregation to waive the contractual provisions for resolving disputes that are recommended by the Unitarian Universalists Ministers Association and to which all involved have already agreed.

Ministers and Unitarian Universalist churches typically agree to an arbitration provision at the outset of the relationship in order to avoid the very scenario we now face: unhealthy congregational conflict around contractual matters. Arbitration is an alternative means of settling disputes by trusted and disinterested people who examine the facts and make a final determination. In this case, Rev. Newman Moore and the Church would each choose UUA ministers whom they respect and trust. This approach avoids the expense, delay, and bitterness of a court proceeding, follows a defined timeline, and results in an official, final, binding decision. Under the specific terms of Rev. Newman Moore's contract, neither she nor the Church will be able to appeal the arbitration decision to a court or any other jurisdiction. We believe the time limits and finality of the arbitration process are critical to allowing us to move on to the renewal and strengthening of our beloved community.

Although we cannot agree with Rev. Newman Moore's request to involve a congregant in the dispute, we gave the suggestion of non-binding mediation careful consideration and have decided that it is not in the best interests of the congregation for several reasons.

  • Unlike arbitration, this type of open-ended facilitated negotiation does not necessarily produce a binding or final result and may worsen, instead of resolving, the conflict. Indeed, as we've recently seen, the UUA Good Offices process -- a form of mediation -- despite resulting in the January 29 letter jointly signed by Revs. Newman Moore and Hardies and the Board President, has simply generated second-guessing and more discord.
  • If no agreement is reached at all in non-binding mediation, there would still be no resolution and the current turmoil would continue.
  • Mediation would initially require a period of negotiating terms to preserve the existing contractual ban on follow-up civil litigation; experience shows that more negotiating would have further ramifications for our congregation.
  • Mediation requires specific conditions to be successful, including reasonable expectations, and assurances of good faith and confidentiality so that parties may engage freely. 
  • Finally, overriding Rev. Newman Moore's contract would set a bad precedent for other existing and future ministerial contracts.

Nine of us, working faithfully and in covenant with each other, wrestle with difficult decisions like this one. We strive for a just resolution and one that is mindful of our fiduciary duty to the congregation and legal requirements. Under District of Columbia law, it is trustees' responsibility to handle all of our work, including the matter of severance negotiations, in good faith, and in a manner we reasonably believe to be in the best interests of the Church. Also, any severance offered must be an objectively reasonable use of the Church's charitable assets.

Like all of you, we sincerely hope that the matter of Rev. Newman Moore's separation will be resolved fairly and soon. We are ready to proceed to arbitration. In the meantime, we are moving forward with other important work. With the kind and expert assistance of former trustees, we have made good progress on identifying candidates for the interim executive director position. We are in the midst of both a comprehensive compensation and benefits review and a finance policy review, and we are at the beginning stages of the senior minister's evaluation. We are also continuing the critical work of mapping the way forward with a review of our governance and accountability structures.

As always, we welcome your feedback. Our next Listening Post is scheduled for April 1 after both services in Pierce Hall, and you can continue to contact the Board President directly by emailing president@allsouls.ws.

Sincerely,
The Board of Trustees
All Souls Church, Unitarian

 

March 14, 2018

More information from the All Souls Board of Trustees

Dear All Souls Church,

The early 19th century Unitarian preacher William Ellery Channing said, "difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict." With those words in mind, we'd like to share more information about All Souls' conflict resolution policies and address, with respect for all involved, a complaint a member brought to the Board last summer against both Revs. Hardies and Newman Moore. We hope this information serves two purposes: to clarify misunderstandings surrounding that complaint and to help guide future conflicts. In a congregation with nearly 1100 members, disagreements are inevitable; how we move through them is a mark of who we are as people who have chosen a covenantal faith.

Under All Souls' current governance structure, commonly known as policy governance, there are several ways to handle conflicts and grievances.

The Board of Trustees resolves complaints directly related to the Board's policymaking and policy monitoring functions, as well as more serious complaints of malfeasance against Church leaders, such as allegations that a trustee, officer, or member of the Executive Team (which most recently has included the senior minister, associate minister, and executive director) has acted illegally, breached a fiduciary duty to the Church, or violated professional ethics or the trustees' and officers' code of conduct. Trustees are called upon to review the complaint fairly and with respect for the privacy of all involved.

Specific processes and committees are in place for addressing most other complaints.

The Committee on Right Relations (CRR) is a committee of and accountable to the Board. The CRR is charged with executing the Church's Conflict Resolution Policy and Process. The CRR helps resolve discord between a congregant and other congregants, groups, staff, and ministers. Its scope intentionally does not cover conflicts between staff members, between ministers, and between ministers and staff. Those conflicts are covered by All Souls' Personnel Policy and by the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association's procedures.

The CRR supports the congregation as we strive to 'walk the talk' of our Covenant of Right Relations, which states, in part:

We resolve conflicts directly, using openness and compassion, and we:

  • make every effort to settle differences directly and openly,

  • stay engaged with each other through difficult conversations,

  • hold ourselves responsible for hearing all sides.

We listen with respect and attention and speak with care.

We acknowledge our mistakes and shortcomings and are willing to forgive those of others.

More information about the Committee on Right Relations can be found at www.all-souls.org/right-relations.

The Disruptive Behavior Committee, newly created under the Policy on Congregant Behavior, addresses complaints alleging dangerous, threatening, disruptive, or disrespectful behavior (where an immediate response is not required). A complaint may be sent to any minister or current trustee. The senior minister and president of the Board decide whether these complaints will be referred to the Committee on Right Relations or to the Disruptive Behavior Committee. The Disruptive Behavior Committee, which comprises three former trustees who serve one-year terms, independently investigates the complaint.

Last summer, the Board endeavored to resolve a member's complaint against both ministers in a way that was fair and accountable to our governance documents. We met on several occasions to thoroughly discuss and evaluate the complaint; in early September we responded directly to the complainant. We addressed those allegations that were within our charge, and, with regard to the concerns raised about interpersonal relationships between the member and ministers, we asked the member to refrain from escalating and instead use the CRR to meet with each minister and attempt to work out these issues. The member declined to engage in this process and resigned from membership.

When the complaint was first received, Rev. Newman Moore asked the Board to issue a broad statement, without referencing specifics in the member's complaint, in support of her and Rev. Hardies' ministries. The Board declined to do this for several reasons. First, members should be able to fairly raise concerns regarding ministers without fear of public retribution or admonishment by the Board. Second, the trustees were still hopeful that some concerns could be resolved with the help of the CRR. Third, knowledge of the complaint was not yet widespread, and the trustees thought a vague letter to the entire congregation might create confusion and escalate the conflict. While trustees declined to send such a letter, we supported both ministers with personal messages and by rearranging summer schedules to accommodate extra calls and meetings they requested. We are sincerely sorry that Rev. Newman Moore felt abandoned; that was certainly not our intention.

Finally, we must explain an essential, yet challenging, aspect of the trustee-minister relationship. While we work collaboratively and cooperatively with the Executive Team, for reasons of good governance, we should not be any minister's primary support system. The members of the Committees on Ministry, not the trustees, are charged with supporting and advising called ministers. The Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association's good offices process is also in place to support congregational ministers who are experiencing difficulties in their relationships with other ministers.

While we appreciate the supportive messages we've received from many congregants, we know that some of you may not always agree with our decisions or actions, and by that we are humbled. But we always approach our work in covenant with each other, and with integrity, attention to our governance structure, and commitment to the congregation. Also, while we cannot comment on legal advice, we seek support and guidance from counsel when necessary and appropriate.

We hope this letter has provided important context for the Church's conflict resolution policies and that it will help all of us to redouble our efforts to live into our covenant, seeking help from Church resources when necessary. We welcome your feedback on these policies at any time, including at our Listening Post this Sunday, March 18, after both services in Pierce Hall.

Sincerely,
The Board of Trustees
All Souls Church, Unitarian

 

March 9, 2018

Update from the All Souls Board of Trustees regarding the Rev. Dr. Susan Newman Moore

Dear All Souls Church,

The congregation has asked us to keep you up to date on both Rev. Newman Moore's status with the United Church of Christ (UCC) and our efforts to resolve the terms of her separation from employment with All Souls Church.

We were informed on Saturday, March 2, that Rev. Newman Moore wrote to the Potomac Association of the Central Atlantic Conference of the UCC withdrawing her ministerial standing from the denomination. She has decided not to proceed with the growth plan that resulted from her fitness review, and once her request is processed, she will no longer be an authorized minister of the UCC.

In addition, Rev. Newman Moore has informed the Board that she declines to engage in the arbitration process specified in her contract to decide the terms of her separation. Both the Church and Rev. Newman Moore agreed in the contract that all disputes concerning the contract must be arbitrated with UUA ministers, including ministers of each party's choosing. Such provisions are in place to avoid costly and destructive court proceedings, and also to ensure that congregations are not embroiled in unhealthy conflict around contractual matters. Rev. Newman Moore's contract, like most UUA ministerial contracts, provides that there is no severance due in situations where a minister's credentials are suspended or terminated. We have nevertheless chosen to offer the highest amount of severance specified in the contract, regardless of the reason for separation.

In the absence of an agreement, the Church will continue to pay Rev. Newman Moore's salary and benefits through April 17th, which is 90 days from the day Rev. Newman Moore stated her intent to separate from the Church. The Board remains willing to proceed to arbitration to finalize a severance agreement should Rev. Newman Moore reconsider her decision. We continue to pray for an appropriate outcome that will honor the interests of both Rev. Newman Moore as well as those of All Souls Church.

Sincerely,
The Board of Trustees
All Souls Church, Unitarian

 

February 19, 2018

Dear All Souls Church,

We are writing to inform you that the Board of Trustees met this evening with Rev. Dr. Audrey Price, the Chairperson of the Committee on Church and Ministry, Potomac Association of the United Church of Christ (UCC). At this meeting, Rev. Price presented the outcome of the fitness review process which they have completed regarding Rev. Dr. Susan Newman Moore. As you may recall from prior communications, Rev. Newman Moore was ordained by the UCC, not the Unitarian Universalist Association, and therefore the UCC holds ultimate authority over the verification of her ecclesiastic credentials.

At this evening's meeting, Rev. Price notified us of the following:

"The [UCC Potomac Association] Committee reviewed the findings of the response team. After prayerfully considering the findings, the Committee determined that the concern about [Rev. Newman Moore's] present fitness for ministry is sustained and authorization for ministry is SUSPENDED. Suspension is for a period of time in order to implement a program of growth developed by the Committee. The Committee believes that the successful completion of the growth plan could lead to [Rev. Newman Moore's] authorization for ministry to be restored and her fitness for ministry re-affirmed.

Suspension, while not permanently removing [Rev. Newman Moore's] ministerial authorization, removes the rights and privileges of the authorization until the situation is resolved and authorization is restored. While suspended, [Rev. Newman Moore] cannot perform the functions of the ministry for which she has been authorized."

We were reminded that the confidentiality notices signed by Rev. Newman Moore and all participants in the fitness review process continue to remain in effect. As part of completing the Fitness Review process, Rev. Price has asked to meet with our congregation again to make a statement and to answer your questions. That meeting will be held at All Souls Church on the evening of Tuesday, February 27th at 7 PM. Child care and sign language interpretation will be available.

We know that many of you will be disappointed, upset, or confused by the UCC's determination. In this emotional time, we hope that we will all strive to live into our Covenant of Right Relations, and treat each other with care and compassion.

This remains a very difficult time for Rev. Newman Moore and for our congregation. We ask that you join us in keeping her and the church in your thoughts and prayers.

Sincerely,
The Board of Trustees
All Souls Church, Unitarian

 

February 13, 2018

Dear All Souls,

We are writing to update you on the status of Rev. Susan Newman Moore's negotiated separation from All Souls Church. The Church hoped it could resolve this separation amicably and without undue delay. However, despite the Church's good faith efforts to reach an agreement, we have been unable to do so. We believe the financial and other terms on which Rev. Newman Moore is seeking to resolve this separation are unreasonable and harmful to the current and future well-being of the Church. In the best interests of All Souls, we cannot accept these terms.

Some of you have asked whether, as part of a settlement, the Church is insisting that Rev. Newman Moore keep silent. Confidentiality and mutual non-disparagement provisions are typical in separation agreements and Rev. Newman Moore's own proposal contained a non-disclosure provision that would have applied to all parties. However, Rev. Newman Moore has taken actions during the negotiations that are inconsistent with her proposal. We have therefore informed her counsel that we are no longer willing to accept a confidentiality provision.

The Church also informed Rev. Newman Moore's counsel that we no longer believe it is possible to reach an agreement through the negotiation process. We are providing Rev. Newman Moore three months' salary as set forth in her contract and expect to use the dispute resolution process specified in the contract to reach a final agreement.

We regret that we have been unable to resolve this matter to date, but can assure you we are working hard. We will continue to communicate with the congregation as appropriate and hope that we will have better news to report at a later date.

Sincerely,
The Board of Trustees

 

February 9, 2018

Dear All Souls,

We want to thank all of you who braved a cold rain to attend the Board's business meeting this week. At the end of our agenda, trustees, Council co-chairs, and lay leaders shared our hopes and fears in this time of confusion, hurt, and mistrust. Together, we reflected on initial steps towards laying a foundation--messy, non-linear, and as yet undefined--to rebuild and renew our spiritual home.

While each of us offered different and valuable guidance on how we move forward now, we heard a common goal: we must build a church for which there is no model in the UUA. We are called to nothing less than radical transformation of how we do church as a Beloved Community: what does our governance, leadership, ministry, accountability look like, not just on Sunday morning, but every day of the week?

This has been an incredibly painful time for us as a spiritual community and we can't promise you that we have a blueprint for that transformation--nor would you want us to. What we are working towards will come from those who love our congregation leaning in, buckling down, and doing the hard work of change. As we move towards mending the brokenness, we hope you will come to church next Saturday. February 17, from 9:30 am to 2:00 pm for Listening Circles (please register). Then, on Tuesday, February 20, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, ADORE (A Dialogue on Race and Ethnicity) will host a conversation called "Changing the System" (feel free to drop in). These are not Council or Board-led events, but we urge everyone to attend as they will be critical spaces that will allow us to listen and learn from each other--and the listening and the learning will eventually guide us to renewal.

Let's do this together.

With shared love for our church community,
All Souls Church Unitarian Board of Trustees
Brenda Barron and Paree Roper, Co-moderators, Church Council

 

February 6, 2018

Dear All Souls,

We thank all of you who came to the Town Hall meeting on January 31st to discuss the departure of the Rev. Dr. Susan Newman Moore. You came with many thoughtful questions and concerns, and we appreciate your engagement in this difficult process. We know this continues to be a painful and trying time for our congregation and our intention is to be as responsive to you as we possibly can be in the weeks and months ahead. We acknowledge the significant impact of this loss in our community and we want you to know that we are moving forward in concrete and meaningful ways to ensure the health and vitality of our beloved spiritual home.

Unfortunately, we did not have time for all of your questions at the meeting. We want to assure you that the Town Hall meeting was only the first step and that there will be more opportunities for dialogue and to ask questions. Although we may be constrained in our ability to answer some questions because of confidentiality concerns, we commit to answering your questions as honestly and comprehensively as we can.

Board members will be available at Listening Posts in Pierce Hall after services in the coming months. Watch the announcements for specific days and times. You may also send your comments to President of the Board of Trustees Tim Rhodes at president@allsouls.ws.

For anyone who was not able to attend the Town Hall meeting, we are making a recording available at church on February 11th, after the second service. Out of respect for all parties involved, we ask that you not record while you listen.

At the meeting, you also asked about the status of the UCC fitness review of Rev. Newman Moore. Unfortunately, that review has been delayed and is still ongoing. The UCC recently assured us, however, that they intend to complete the review process by the end of this month, at which time the Rev. Dr. Audrey C. Price will meet with the Board of Trustees to report the UCC's findings and recommendations. We will update you after we meet with Rev. Price. Based on her earlier statements, we expect that she will want to meet with the congregation to explain the results of the fitness review.

Finally, while there is more thinking and more repair to do, the trustees want to make you aware of some immediate commitments we have made. First, as mentioned at the Town Hall, the Board's Personnel Committee is tasked with regularly evaluating the senior minister; that process is already underway. In addition, the Board has a working retreat planned for later this month that will be facilitated by Rev. David Pyle of the UUA's Congregational Life Staff, Central East Region. Rev. Pyle will help us begin an analysis of our governance and accountability structures. We are committed to taking an honest, hard look at what is helping us to build a workplace and a congregation that are undergirded with transparency, accountability, and healthy communication, and what may be getting in the way. We're willing to do the work of real change.

We are on this journey together and we hope you will continue to communicate with us as we go forward in the spirit of beloved community. We promise the same in return.

The All Souls Board of Trustees

 

January 29, 2018

Dear Beloved Members of the All Souls Community,

We are writing to inform you that Rev. Rob Hardies and Rev. Susan Newman Moore have agreed that she will be leaving All Souls Church. The Board is settling the details of the transition.

As some of you are aware, the All Souls community has faced several challenges over the last year. In an effort to address some of these challenges, Rev. Hardies and Rev. Newman Moore met in accordance with the Unitarian Universalist Ministers' Association's processes. The Rev. Dr. Hope Johnson, a member of the UUA staff, with portfolios in multiculturalism and conflict resolution, was chosen by both ministers to facilitate the meeting. Also present at this meeting were two Good Officers (fellow UU ministers who help assist colleagues during challenges in their ministries). At the end of the meeting, with Rev. Johnson's guidance and advice, Revs. Hardies and Newman Moore mutually agreed upon a separation.

We know that this news will sadden many of you. We are all grateful for Rev. Newman Moore's years among us. In those years we have been blessed to receive her many gifts for ministry: her warm pastoral presence, wise spiritual counsel, inspirational sermons, and prayers have healed, uplifted, and spoken to us all.

Iyanla Vanzant, in Acts of Faith, says, "People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime." In this season of transition, we know that Rev. Susan's influence on our church and our lives will be lasting, and we look with hope and excitement to both her future, and ours.

As outlined in our Covenant of Right Relations, the Board believes that open, direct, and thoughtful communication is important to the well-being of our congregation. We want to hear from you and invite you to join us for a Congregational Town Hall meeting this Wednesday, January 31, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, in the sanctuary. Childcare will be provided.

In addition, Board listening post sessions are being made available in Pierce Hall at different times throughout the coming months; the next one will be this Sunday, February 4, after each service. We also encourage you to reach out to your Board members with questions or concerns. Information can be found about us on the governance page of the church website. You can also send email correspondence to Board President Tim Rhodes (president@allsouls.ws).

In faith, and with the spirit of the Beloved Community, let us move through this difficult time with compassion and care for each other.

Sincerely,


 


 


 

Thurman H. Rhodes, Sr.
President, All Souls Board of Trustees

Susan Newman Moore
Associate Minister

Robert M. Hardies
Senior Minister

 

January 5, 2018, Letter to the Congregation

Dear All Souls,

We are writing with a brief update on the status of the United Church of Christ’s “fitness review” investigation into complaints received by the United Church of Christ (UCC) against Rev. Susan Moore.

As a reminder, Rev. Susan was ordained by the UCC, not the Unitarian Universalist Association, and therefore, the UCC holds ultimate authority over the verification of her ecclesiastic credentials. All Souls has agreed to cooperate with the UCC process because we think that it is the right thing to do and is in the best interest of Rev. Susan and our church.

In December, we were informed by our liaison to the UCC process, the Rev. Audrey Price, that there are delays to their process and they will adjust the end date for their investigation to sometime in early 2018. No exact date was given. We were disappointed to learn of the delay in the UCC’s process, as we know many of you are. We have reiterated to Rev. Price our belief that it is in the best interest of our congregation and Rev. Susan for this process to be concluded in a fair and timely manner.

If you have questions or concerns about the UCC process, we encourage you to contact Rev. Price directly, as she has made herself available to members of the All Souls congregation during this process. She can be reached at:

Rev. Audrey C. Price
xtremejoy@gmail.com
571-246-6533
(email is preferred)

You are also welcome to view our earlier communications about this process, at www.all-souls.org/ucc-review.

Finally, members of the Board will be available at a Listening Table in Pierce Hall this Sunday after both services.

The Board has extended Rev. Susan’s leave through the end of January. We ask that you please join us in continuing to keep Rev. Susan and the entire congregation in your prayers as we move through this difficult time.

Sincerely,
Thurman H. Rhodes, President, All Souls Board of Trustees
Robert M. Hardies, Senior Minister

 

November 9: An Update on the UCC Fitness Review Process

On the evening of Wednesday, November 1, over 200 congregants gathered in the sanctuary to listen to the United Church of Christ (UCC) Potomac Association Church and Ministry Chair, Rev. Audrey Price, walk us through the Fitness Review process being conducted for Rev. Susan.

As many of you know, Rev. Susan was ordained by the UCC, not the UUA, and therefore, the UCC holds ultimate authority over the verification of her ecclesiastic responsibilities. All Souls has agreed to cooperate with the UCC process because we think that it is the right thing to do and in the best interest of Rev. Susan and our church.

At the meeting, Rev. Price reiterated to us that the decision to proceed with a Fitness Review is not a presumption of guilt or even a validation of the complaints raised against Rev. Susan. Rather, it reflects the Committee on Church and Ministry’s judgment that, if the questions raised in the complaint were true, they would raise questions about a minister’s fitness for ministry.

Rev. Price also shared that the Fitness Review process is based on three UCC documents that guide the association and its ministers, and she asked that we share links to these documents with the entire congregation:

  1. Manual on Ministry -- Section 8
  2. Ordained Minister’s Code of Conduct
  3. Marks of Faithful and Effective Authorized Ministers

Finally, Rev. Price informed us that the UCC hopes to complete the Fitness Review process by the end of the calendar year, and will share the results of its inquiry with the board and the congregation at that time. All Souls has granted Rev. Susan personal leave through the end of the calendar year so that she can attend to this process and care for herself during this difficult time.

Rev. Price also emphasized her role as the “support guide” for our congregation during this process. If you have any questions about the UCC process, she encourages anyone to contact her with questions or concerns. She can be reached at xtremejoy@gmail.com or 571-246-6533. Email is preferred.

 

October 25, 2017, Letter to the Congregation

Dear All Souls,

We are writing at the request of the United Church of Christ (UCC) to inform you that last month the UCC received a written complaint against our Associate Minister, the Rev. Susan Newman Moore. Rev. Moore is an authorized minister in the UCC. We ask that you read this entire message and join us in holding Rev. Susan in your prayers.

The UCC followed its process and forwarded the complaint to the UCC’s Potomac Association Committee on Church and Ministry, which has oversight responsibility for authorized ministers within its geographic jurisdiction that includes the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

Upon reviewing the written complaint, the UCC’s Committee on Church and Ministry entered into an ecclesial process and has determined that it is required to initiate a “Fitness Review” (a UCC term) to explore and investigate the questions raised in the complaint against Rev. Susan. That review will follow a confidential process that will include fact-finding and interviews of some All Souls church members.

It is important to understand that the decision to proceed with a Fitness Review is not a presumption of guilt. Rather, it reflects the Committee on Church and Ministry’s judgment that, if the questions raised in the complaint were true, they would raise questions about the minister’s fitness for ministry. The chair of the UCC’s committee is the Rev. Audrey Price. Last Thursday, October 19, the Rev. Price briefed the Board of Trustees on the UCC Fitness Review process.

It is standard UCC procedure that a congregation be made aware if one of its ministers is the subject of a Fitness Review. To that end, Rev. Price has asked to meet with the congregation in our sanctuary at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 1st. Rev. Price will outline the Fitness Review process, answer your questions about the process, and address any concerns you might have regarding the UCC’s ecclesial process.

Because the UCC’s process requires confidentiality, the UCC has not shared nor will it share with the leadership of All Souls the content of the written complaint, the identity of the person(s) making the complaint, or who might be interviewed during the process, and no information will be released or discussed during the process. The UCC’s Committee on Church and Ministry will notify the congregation of any action it will take as a result of the investigation. If you want to know more about the UCC ecclesial process we encourage you to attend the presentation on November 1 at 7:00 pm.

While Rev. Susan is not allowed to discuss the investigation or the complaint during the Fitness Review, we know this is a very difficult time for her. The Board has granted Rev. Susan a personal leave from October 31 through the end of the calendar year to attend fully to this matter.

We ask that you please join us in keeping her and the entire congregation in your prayers as we move through this difficult time.

In faith,

Chuck Dulaney, President, All Souls Board of Trustees
The Rev. Robert M. Hardies, Senior Minister

 

Questions?

Feel free to direct any other questions to Board President Tim Rhodes (president@allsouls.ws) or to other members of your Board of Trustees.