Ministerial Search Committee

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we are elated to share with you the results of our Special Parish Meeting. On Sunday, May 2, the Members of the First Unitarian Society of Madison voted in the affirmative to call the Rev. Kelly Weisman Asprooth-Jackson to serve as Co-Senior Minister with the Rev. Kelly J. Crocker.

This significant vote ushers in the new co-ministry model overwhelmingly supported by members of the congregation as discerned during our three-year interim ministry period.

We welcome our newly called minister, the Rev. Kelly Weisman Asprooth-Jackson, and his family into our community. We also celebrate the long-time ministry of the Rev. Kelly J. Crocker and her transition into her new role as Co-Senior Minister.

Our deep gratitude to our Ministerial Search Committee members: Dorit Bergen, Emily Cusic Putnam, Sandy Eskrich, Chuck Evenson, Jeanne Sears, Emily Smith, and Joy Stieglitz Gottschalk. Their time, energy, commitment, and dedication to this important role on behalf of our community has been invaluable.

And thank you to our community for your dedication, support, and participation throughout the interim ministry period and during Candidating Week.

As we move into the next chapter of co-senior ministry at FUS, we look forward to the work ahead filled with joy, possibilities, and continued commitment to our Unitarian Universalist values.

Candidating Week: April 25 - May 2

The much anticipated Candidating Week, where you meet and vote on the Search Committee’s candidate to join Rev. Kelly Crocker as a Co-Senior Minister, will take place from Sunday, April 25, through Sunday, May 2. Click here to see the recordings from the week.

Meet our Candidate

On Sunday, April 18, we announced the Rev. Kelly Weisman Asprooth-Jackson as our Co-Senior Minister candidate.

What to Expect

Click here to read the email released to the congregation regarding Candidating Week.

Archived Search Committee Documents

Thanks to all who attended the Beyond Categorical Thinking Workshop on November 14. Rev. Keith Kron has shared with us the case studies used during the workshop which are included below. You can also see Keith’s sermon from Sunday, November 15, using the button below.

Thanks to all for providing feedback to the Search Team through our congregational survey, our cottage meetings and focus groups, and for attending the Beyond Categorical Thinking workshop. The team has summarized the feedback provided in the documents below.

Updates from the Search Committee

  • The team received 13 ministerial records and conducted 8 one hour, first round interviews via Zoom.
  • We’re currently (as of 2/21) in the pre-candidating phase and have completed one pre-candidating weekend with two still to come, all via Zoom.
  • Kelly’s part in the process is as follows: she has an extended one-on-one conversation with each pre-candidate. and she joins the search team and the pre-candidate for an informal social time. Kelly will then meet with the search team to share her general impressions before the team goes into the final discernment process.

Visit to read the comprehensive search update information shared on December 2, 2020.

Your Ministerial Search Team has just concluded a very productive round of 38 Cottage and Focus Group Meetings. We spoke with 205 adults and 47 children in our CRE classes. Thanks so much to all of you who participated so thoughtfully. As expected in a congregation of our size, we heard several themes that many of us agree on and others on which we have quite differing views. All of the feedback will be presented to ministerial candidates. We will also share with you a summary of what we heard. We hope to see many of you at the Beyond Categorical Thinking workshop on November 14, our last chance to all be together in the search process until the spring.

Thank you to everyone who participated in cottage meetings throughout October! We hosted over 30 small group discussions, and we heard from a wide variety of congregants—from our 2nd- and 3rd-grade religious education class to our lay ministers! Every search committee member has remarked on how fun it was to hear you discuss our congregation’s future and to see all of your faces in this socially-distanced time.

Your input from the cottage meetings and congregational survey will be invaluable to us as we write our congregational record in November. The congregational record is how ministerial candidates will learn about the opportunity to work with us. It describes who we are, what our community is like, and what we’re looking for in our next minister. We will strive to present our congregation in all of its complexities, including where there’s a diversity of opinions among congregants. For this reason, we really do appreciate everything you’ve shared with us, whether you perceive your views to align with the majority opinion or not. Once the congregational record is complete, we will find ways to share it with the congregation.

The search committee has one more thing to ask of you this year: Please join us for the Beyond Categorical Thinking workshop on Saturday, November 14! When you imagine your “ideal minister,” certain categorizations by age, gender identity, race, nationality, physical or cognitive ability, sexual orientation, etc. may come to mind, either consciously or subconsciously. With this picture in place, it can be easy to unintentionally exclude ministers who fall into certain categories. The Beyond Categorical Thinking program is designed to promote inclusive thinking and help prevent unfair discrimination in the search process for a new minister. The search committee invites you to join us for a workshop with UUA trainer, the Rev. Keith Kron, where we will examine how we can avoid letting prejudice become a part of our search process. This is a way for us to put our faith into lived experience and improve the odds that regardless of identity, we will find the minister who is the best match for us.

The workshop will take place from 10:30 am – 2:30 pm on Saturday, November 14. There will be a one-hour break from 12 pm to 1 pm for lunch. Rev. Keith will also offer the reflection during our worship service on Sunday, November 15. This will be the last big opportunity for the congregation to engage with the search process until we have a final candidate for you to meet next Spring. We hope to see you there!

Thanks to all who participated in the congregational survey. We are grateful for the 475 thoughtful responses we received. ​The next step in the search process for a new minister will be the opportunity to take part in cottage meetings.

The Ministerial Search Committee is hosting these meetings in October to allow the congregation to consider and discuss what we are looking for in a new minister. These virtual gatherings of up to fifteen participants will provide an opportunity to discuss some of the themes that emerged from the survey.

​The list of available cottage meetings dates is provided at the end of this email. If meetings fill up, we will schedule additional sessions in the second half of October. Please use the link below to sign up for your preferred time. You will receive confirmation of the meeting containing the Zoom link a few days in advance. Each meeting will be hosted by a member of the Ministerial Search Committee and will last no longer than an hour.

We encourage you to find time to join the conversation and explore what this community is looking for in a new minister. Whether you’ve been attending FUS for one month or 30 years, your voice is important!

Cottage Meeting Times:
Monday, Oct 5, 2 pm – 3 pm
Tuesday, Oct 6, 10 am – 11 am
Tuesday, Oct 6, 6 pm – 7 pm
Thursday, Oct 8, 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Friday, Oct 9, 12 pm – 1 pm
Saturday, Oct 10, 11 am – 12 pm
Sunday, Oct 11, 12 pm – 1 pm
Monday, Oct 12, 2 pm – 3 pm
Tuesday, Oct 13, 10 am – 11 am
Tuesday, Oct 13, 6 pm – 7 pm
Thursday, Oct 15, 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Friday, Oct 16, 12 pm – 1 pm
Saturday, Oct 17, 11 am – 12 pm
Sunday, Oct 18, 12 pm – 1 pm

The congregational survey will go out on Thursday, September 10, to all members of our FUS community.  We hope you will take time to complete it as soon as you get it and share your thoughts, feelings, and hopes with us. We need it back by September 25.  A paper copy will be mailed to those without an email on file with FUS.

In October, we will hold focus group meetings (for various smaller groups within our community) and cottage group meetings (for interested individuals within our community). In November, the Search Team will take the information gathered from the survey and the meetings along with other documents describing FUS and create our Congregational Record.  This document provides a profile of our congregation that will be made available to ministerial candidates. This will get posted to the UUA’s Transitions website. On January 1, prospective ministerial candidates can begin looking at this congregational record. We can begin looking at their resumes. Preliminary interviews will take place in January and February. Your search team will invite three candidates for in-depth interviews in February and March. Then there will be a candidating week, probably in April. If all goes well, we will be ready to present a candidate to the congregation in late April or early May. These times are tentative as we don’t know how much, if any of this, can happen in person.

Your search team is excited and optimistic about this process. We hope you share our excitement. We hope you will take advantage of all opportunities available to engage with us and let us know how you feel, what you think, and your vision for our future.

Your Ministerial Search Team: Joy, Emily S., Jeanne, Emily P. Chuck, Sandy, and Dorit

The Search Committee’s focus this month is reviewing background information about the search process and the UUA’s Settlement Handbook, getting ourselves organized as a committee, and reaching out to the UUA Transitions Office for information and guidance about how to best approach our search during these virtual times.

Meet Your Search Committee Members

Dorit Bergen

Dorit Bergen has been an active member of FUS since 1978. Though it was the choir that originally brought her to FUS, she’s since engaged with a wide array of FUS programming and teams. She was a member of Quest 3 and is one of the two coordinators for the Shawl Ministry. She is currently active in the Dane Sanctuary Coalition, Lay Ministry, “Knot Just For Knitters”, and the Salvation Army Volunteer Team. Dorit is a founding member of the Stewardship Ministry Team. She has also proudly served on the Board of Trustees for the last four years. Outside of FUS she’s serving on the MidAmerica Region Board and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee of an area nonprofit. Prior to her retirement, Dorit had a long and rewarding career as a Madison teacher.

Emily Cusic Putnam

Emily Cusic Putnam has been a member of FUS for 15 years, during which she has served on the Board of Trustees, the Transition Team, as an active member of the Foodhaulers, and an elder and teacher for the CRE program. She holds an MSSW and 20 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector. Emily’s days are filled volunteering at her son’s school and with the PTO in various projects; making glorious messes in the kitchen (which her husband dutifully cleans up with hardly any grumbling), and staying active with long walks, shorter bike rides and yoga. Her life is enriched by her connection with the engaging individuals of the FUS community and its many opportunities for spiritual exploration and deepening. She believes in the power of a team coming together in service to apply their unique talents for the purpose of strengthening community.

Sandy Eskrich

Sandy Eskrich has been a member of FUS since 1993 when her family moved from the Bloomington, IL Unitarian Church, in which they were active members. She’s taught multiple RE classes, served on the Board of Trustees for 7 years including serving as President of the Board during the governance revision process, the building of the Atrium Auditorium and the economic crash of 2008-9. She is retiring from Public Education (middle school principal) in June and has expressly said she will deny making any commitments for the first 6 months, with the exception of being useful to FUS in a role such as this.

Chuck Evenson

Chuck Evenson became an FUS member in 2013. He has served on the FUS Finance Committee the last three years. He was a member of the most recent Capital Campaign committee. He is chair of the Grounds subcommittee of the recently formed FUS Sustainability Committee and has been leader of the Guardians of the Grounds group since 2015. He feels involvement is the key to getting the most out of being an FUS member. He is honored to be nominated to the Ministerial Search Committee and sees being part of it as an opportunity to be involved in determining FUS’s future at what he considers a critical time in the congregation’s existence.

Jeanne Sears

Jeanne Sears has been active at FUS for over twenty years, as both a member and staff member, and has experienced the many ways we serve our spiritual community. Before joining FUS, Jeanne was a teacher, children’s librarian, and served for many years in a variety of roles as a professional Girl Scout executive. Her passion lies in working with others of different backgrounds and philosophies. She began as a family member involved in teaching her daughter’s RE class and later became the Membership Coordinator. Since her retirement, she has been involved as a Journey Circle facilitator and a Spiritual Development Ministry Team member. She’s found her involvement in Beloved Conversations, exploring racial bias and inclusivity, a growth experience full of insights. She believes FUS has an amazing opportunity ahead to continue our rich tradition of caring and compassion, developing our individual spirit, and looking ahead to the challenges and needs of the future.

Emily Smith

Emily Smith has been a member of FUS since 2017 and a UU since the age of two. She watched her childhood congregation go through two different searches for settled ministers. Around FUS, she’s been a member of the 20s/30s group for five years and co-facilitator of that group this last year. She’s also taught RE for three years and sung in the Meeting House Chorus for two years. Professionally, she’s worked as a project manager for more than four years. She is excited to have been nominated for the search committee and sees it as an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the FUS community while helping the congregation look forward towards who we want to become.

Joy Stieglitz Gottschalk

Joy Stieglitz Gottschalk has attended FUS for over twenty-five years, becoming a member in 2005. Joy’s FUS niche is the Children’s RE Program, teaching nearly every course–several favorites multiple times. She writes, “Teaching RE has enriched my life in innumerable ways: touching young peoples’ lives, developing lifelong friendships with co-teachers, and expanding my spiritual practice as we explored the material.” Joy is the Executive Director of Out Health, Inc. whose mission is to reduce health disparities in the LGBTQ+ community through health care services and educational outreach. Prior to Out Health, Joy’s 25+ year professional planning career at Vandewalle & Associates focused on redeveloping contaminated brownfields in challenged communities. Her volunteer service includes the Gathering Waters Conservancy and Madison Unicyclists boards, 15 years on a Governor-appointed policy think tank, and dozens of MMSD classrooms and advisory committees. Joy and her husband Rob are raising three inspiring kids. She enjoys hiking, yoga, and tackling new unexplored projects.