Opening Words from Sun. March 29 by Alan Easton

A summary of the work of the Second Leader Search Task Force.

The Ethical Society of St. Louis has benefited from having two Leaders for the last five years or more. Kate Lovelady and James Croft have worked together well. It has been wonderful for those of us members to have two of our own Leaders as gifted platform speakers.

Kate’s announcement that she planned to leave at the end of May was followed by the Board decision to hire a second Leader. This second Leader would report to James Croft who has been approved by our membership to take the senior Leader position. When the Board asked me to chair the Second Leader Search Task Force I agreed since I felt I knew the ropes: I had served on both of the last two Leader search committees, one in 2014-2015 and one in 2005. For this 2019 Second Leader Search Task Force I recruited six other Society members: Anya Overmann, Samantha White, Cathy Pickard, Cy Henningsen, Lance Finney and Mike Jones. James Croft was a non-voting member who attended all of our meetings. I thank all of them for their commitment and applaud their skill and their competence.

The task force began its work last August: we composed an advertisement that described what the Board sought in a Second Leader. With Board permission, we publicized that advertisement over a seven week period in the fall. We chose websites likely to be visited by humanists and others who might be interested in our position. The ad was sent to the American Ethical Union and was placed on the website of the Humanist magazine. The advertisement was also put on the jobs board of the Yale Divinity School, which provides a free publicity service to all types of religious organizations who are seeking to fill positions. The ad was distributed to selected sites on Facebook. Further we paid for an ad in online edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Several applications for the job were received and reviewed. After interviews with some applicants, the Task Force recommended one well qualified candidate to our Board of Trustees who then made an offer to that candidate. The person did not accept our offer, but rather accepted an offer from another local congregation, hence the person’s identity will not be revealed. The Task Force had earlier chosen not to advance the candidacy of the other applicants. We are, then, for all our work, left with no candidate for the Second Leader position.

Now what?

The coronavirus epidemic will affect our Society in ways we cannot yet estimate, but likely will present us with challenges. Decisions regarding Society Leadership and staffing are in the hands of the Board and James Croft. Whatever they decide, they will, I’m sure, appreciate the support of the Society members.

NOTE: The ideas and opinions in this post do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.