In Our Own Words

THE SEARCH COMMITTEE REFLECTS ON WHY THEY CHOSE AJ

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      As you all know by now, the search committee has selected a candidate for our next minister - AJ van Tine. Detailed information about AJ was posted to both the Churchies and SFUU Facebook pages. 

But we thought we would provide more information on why AJ emerged as the best candidate for SFUU.  Here are our impressions in our own words.

Amy Evans - “I found AJ so easy to be with.  He’s a peaceful presence who is genuinely curious and interested in everyone he interacted with during pre-candidating week. He was raised by committed and engaged UU parents, and he developed into a UU leader in his own right.  Having someone with so much passion about Unitarian Universalism, about social justice, and about creating a caring community is going to bring a lot of energy to SFUU.”

Rick Marshall : "Two things struck me about the time the Search Committee spent with AJ during his interview weekend.  The first was how comfortably and naturally he interacted with the group. He sat down with us, a group of total strangers, and was as comfortable with us (and us with him) as if he’d already been with us for years.  He was well-prepared for his interview (and has been doing even more homework about us to prepare for Candidate Week) and asked good questions. The second thing that impressed me was the opportunity I had to speak with him one-on-one.  As with the group setting, he had a very natural presence and it was easy to be in conversation with him (not always this case for this introvert). He demonstrated genuine concern and empathy in our conversation, in spite of differences in our backgrounds.  I am looking forward to more opportunities to interact with him during his settled ministry with SFUU."

Carol Koons: “I also appreciated the ease with which AJ interacted with us, individually and as a group. He seems genuinely interested in relationship, asks questions and listens!   I really liked his service- hit all the notes for me. There was new information to think about, personal sharing, a bit of humor and (most of all) at the conclusion my heart felt touched.   I don’t remember if he wrote or said this, but I liked this statement ‘ministry is about staying aware, seeing needs and moving fluidly’.”

Bill Boyce:  “For those that might be concerned that he might be a bit green for this task, here is one story that impressed me personally about AJ that came from a reference from his current congregation.  Last October, another life-long member of his congregation was coming upon his final days after suffering from Alzheimer’s. The family started to make funeral arrangements with their Minister Lydia, but Lydia had to leave immediately to deal with her own family situation.  AJ was left to arrange all the aspects of the funeral and, as the family wished it to be, a celebration of life. The member said that AJ worked deeply with their family, including the living spouse, to determine what type of service they wanted, and they were very confident he could and did handle everything wonderfully.  And though AJ did not know the deceased very well, he was able to deliver a eulogy that was considered both a recognition of the loss as well as a positive reflection of a man who lived life fully. What I learned from this story is about a person who is not shy about taking on daunting responsibility, a person who is able to listen compassionately about the needs of those that rely upon him, a person who will listen and create something individually that reflects what most touches them, and finally, a person who can simply drive home a great sermon.”

Geoff Smith: “AJ is personable and engaging. He takes the time to get to know people and shows genuine interest in their life. He is intelligent and spiritual. His sermon had a great mix of theology, self-reflection, spirituality, and a call to action. He interacted easily with the members in Sacramento after his sermon, and it was well received by them. He is eager to learn and grow and enhance community as a congregational pastor. Although he’s intelligent, outgoing, and engaging he is humble enough to know where his growth areas are at and is committed to working on them. He is a great fit for SFUU. AJ and Ada will be an excellent addition to the congregation.”

Mary Piette: “Of deep concern to UUs are how our young ones leave the church behind after graduating from high school, and the general aging of our congregations. As a young minister who is a lifelong UU, AJ not only is a role model to point the way for youth, he also possesses a comprehensive, easy familiarity with UU traditions and practices. From the Congregational Record written by the search committee, based on congregation input: ‘Our new settled minister will be someone who is compassionate, empathetic, approachable and friendly, with a good sense of humor and a comfortable self-awareness.’ This is AJ.”

Jennifer Warner:  “I enjoyed spending a weekend with AJ. He was immediately comfortable talking with us, he is easy to get along with and brings an energy that is contagious. His sermon was a mix of intellectual and heart with some genuine humor thrown in. I am excited about his knowledge about youth leadership as well as his passion for social justice.”