Ministerial Search

Our Candidates Have Answered our Call!!!

In a special Ministerial Vote Meeting on Sunday, June 2, 2024, our congregation voted to call Rev. Dr. Debra Haffner and Rev. Joel Miller as our new settled co-ministers, and they accepted our call! Please view our press release for more information, video, and photos.


Rev. Dr. Debra W. Haffner and Rev. Joel Miller

A gray-haired man with glasses in a blue button-up shirt and a woman with chin-length blonde hair and glasses in a black sleeveless top with large buttons down the side stand outside under a stone archway.

Please check out this video provided by Revs. Debra and Joel as they introduce themselves. There are also links below to view sermons they provided to other congregations.

Rev. Dr. Debra Haffner (she/her)

Rev. Debra is currently the interim minister at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Huntington (NY), having served congregations in Santa Cruz (CA), Reston (VA), Westport (CT), and Hastings-on-Hudson (NY). She is the President Emerita and co-founder of the Religious Institute and has written numerous books, including Beyond the Big TalkFrom Diapers to Dating, and What Every 21st-Century Parent Needs to Know. She is the creator of the Sexually Safer Best Practices Initiative used by the UUA. Rev. Debra has been recognized for her dynamic worship, loving approach to congregational life, social justice work, and ability to give and receive feedback. Learn more.

Rev. Joel Miller (he/him)

Rev. Joel is currently interim minister at Morristown UU Fellowship in New Jersey, having served many congregations in interim and settled ministry, including congregations in Indianapolis (IN), Rochester (NY), Buffalo (NY), and Littleton (CO). He has been praised by many for his pastoral care, organizational leadership, worship services, and thoughtful presence. He is a co-founder of the Unitarian Universalist Trauma Response Ministry and has been a thought leader in UU Interim Ministry. Learn more.

Here are links to sermons by Rev. Debra and Rev. Joel:

  1. “Love is the Spirit” by Rev. Dr. Debra Haffner
  2. “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Rev. Joel Miller
  3. “Honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” by Rev. Dr. Debra Haffner
  4. “Dreams and Dreaming” by Rev. Joel Miller

Revs. Debra and Joel will meet with the congregation during Candidating Week and, with your call through a positive vote at the end of that week, will serve together as settled co-ministers at FUUSN.

The Ministerial Search Committee has enjoyed every moment of getting to know Rev. Debra and Rev. Joel. Experiencing their shared worship was profoundly moving. During our intense interview process, their thoughtful answers made clear their deep love for Unitarian Universalism and serving congregations. Their vision for the future of FUUSN is one that seems very aligned with our congregation’s wishes for health and growth. Our minds are abuzz imagining the good work we could do together!

Co-Ministry is an exciting change for the FUUSN congregation with many benefits. It is an increasingly common arrangement, and in our research, we’ve learned that congregations who have experienced co-ministers see it as the way of the future. The Board of Trustees and the Ministerial Search Committee formed a subcommittee to understand co-ministry better and will be sharing information about this model in the next few weeks.

We are looking forward to introducing the congregation to Rev. Debra and Rev. Joel in person during Candidating Week, May 25 – June 2, when there will be many chances to get to meet them. Since May 25 is Memorial Day Weekend and many members of the congregation will be at Sandy Island, Rev. Debra and Rev. Joel will be joining us for part of that weekend. Details for the whole week will be announced soon.

We hope that, as you get to know Revs. Debra & Joel, you will be as excited as we are!

After Candidating Week, we will hold the congregational vote to call Revs. Haffner and Miller to be our settled co-ministers, in a special meeting after the service on Sunday, June 2, 2024. Congregational members who have been members since at least 30 days prior to the meeting will be able to vote. If you are not sure whether you are a member, please contact Member Services at We will share more details about the special meeting and voting procedures in an upcoming announcement.

Obviously, your participation is very important, and we want you to understand the process. Please see our FAQ page for more information about co-ministry, and please feel free to contact the committee at if you have further questions.

Our Ministerial Search Committee

FUUSN's Ministerial Search Committee, a group of seven adults, three seated and four standing behind them on a porch with trees in the background.

About the Ministerial Search: In our Unitarian Universalist tradition, ministers are selected and called by popular vote of the congregation. The ministerial search committee is a group of trusted lay leaders who collectively represent the congregation. They prepare the materials that candidates will see about the congregation’s history, practices, vision and hopes for the next minister. They solicit and evaluate candidates in a process that takes several months, on the timeline of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s settlement process.

If you are a member of FUUSN looking for updates on the process, you’re in the right place! For details about key benchmarks in the process, click here. Please keep checking back for further news and updates.

If you are considering applying to be FUUSN’s next settled minister, please look for us on the Ministry Search Jobs Board.

Email the Ministerial Search Committee.

Ministerial Search Committee

Barbara Bates (she/her)

Barbara Bates (she/her)

I am a born-again UU who left her parents’ very secular UU congregation as a teen. In 1986, I returned to UUism, and FUUSN became the home where I could find community with interesting and caring people as well as develop my spirituality and leadership skills. I love that FUUSN supports personal growth in so many ways – spiritual, personal, communal – and that it encourages work towards social justice.

I have served FUUSN in many capacities including Trustee, Board chair, member of a past ministerial search committee, member of committees (e.g., Adult RE, delegate to UUA General Assembly, delegate to the UU Urban Ministry, Nominating Committee), RE teacher, mentor in COA, and Youth Group Advisor. I have served the denomination as president of the Mass Bay District, faculty at UU University, faculty at the New England Leadership School (a weeklong UU lay leadership school), and organizational effectiveness & leadership consultant to UU congregations.

I have retired from “work” many times: from high tech in 1999, from consulting to UU congregations in 2009, teaching negotiation & dispute resolution at Northeastern University in 2012, and being a teacher naturalist at Mass Audubon in 2022. I currently serve as a board member of Newton Conservators, a land trust working to preserve open space for people and nature. I enjoy deep conversations, singing in the JourneySongs hospice choir, SCUBA diving on Cape Ann, walking/exploring in nature, reading, cooking, and afternoon naps.

I am drawn to this ministerial search effort as a personally meaningful way to serve FUUSN and assure its long-term vitality for future generations of seekers.

Eric Haas (he/him)

Eric Haas (he/him)

I first started coming to FUUSN around 2008, after reading an article in the Newton Tab a few years earlier about the current minister who was a practicing Buddhist. By the time I got around to wandering in to a service, that person had moved on, an Interim was in the pulpit, and a Minister Search was just getting under way.

At first I was disappointed, but I found I liked the music and the messages from the Interim Minister. So I kept coming. After a time I volunteered to help with the annual Christmas tree sale. I became involved more deeply, especially after attending my first retreat at Sandy Island. I ended up managing the Tree sale, led volunteer trips to the Greater Boston Food Bank, and taught RE. I have had the privilege of serving on both FUUSN’s Operations Council and its Board of Trustees. Joining the choir and singing regularly in worship has been my greatest joy, and the one other FUUSN activity that I’ve not stepped away from to be part of this present undertaking.

I am honored to serve on the Ministerial Search Committee and am committed to listening to all of the varied voices in our congregation. When not volunteering for FUUSN, I work as a physician assistant and enjoy cycling, playing the banjo, and spending time with my son Will.

Julia Huston (she/her)

Julia Huston (she/her)

I joined FUUSN in 2013, when my daughter was in preschool. I have been an active member of the Nominating Committee, Annual Budget Drive Committee, Member Services Committee, Social Action Committee, FUUSN’s delegation to General Assembly, and the Care Crew. I have particularly enjoyed helping launch new projects at FUUSN, such as Alternative Coffee Hour and the UU Plant-Based Eating Club, and building relationships at our annual retreats to Sandy Island and Ferry Beach. I love FUUSN because it allows me to work on issues that are important to me, such as racial and environmental justice, through a spiritual lens in community with other strong-willed people. As a member of the Search Committee, I am committed to making sure that all of the voices in our community are heard and valued. When not working on FUUSN matters, I consult with non-profit organizations regarding governance issues, volunteer for a variety of social justice causes, and enjoy cooking, family time, and travel.
Melissa Kogut (she/her)

Melissa Kogut (she/her)

I came to FUUSN almost six years ago – initially to support my partner who is active in the music program.  I have fond memories of being part of a Unitarian Church as a child in southern California so it was a joy to find FUUSN! My involvement has included participation in a Chalice Circle, a White Fragility book group, and retreats at Ferry Beach and Sandy Island. In recent years, I have consciously stepped up my involvement – taking the Pledge Against Racism, serving as a mentor for Coming of Age, and serving on the Nominating Committee. What I value the most about FUUSN is the community of people I have found who think deeply about our relationship and responsibilities to one another and the greater community.  I am honored to serve on the Ministerial Search Committee and will work hard to engage and represent our congregation well. Outside of FUUSN, I serve as Vice President of Development at Riverside Community Care and enjoy cooking, hiking, and game nights with friends.

Eric Moore (he/him)

Eric Moore (he/him)

I joined FUUSN with my wife, Julia Wolfe, in the early 2010s because the Coming of Age (COA) program seemed like a great opportunity for our kids to learn about themselves and the world around them. I really enjoy working on Youth projects at FUUSN, and I have been a co-coordinator for the COA for the past 4 years. I’ve also volunteered with the Youth CoffeeHouse, and been a mentor for COA. I was happy to be selected for the Settled Minister Search committee because I want to help ensure that FUUSN continues to be the organization it needs to be to meet the needs of future FUUSN members. I work in the Biotech industry, and I enjoy playing music with my 80s rock band, and telling stories when I get a chance.

Erin O’Donnell (she/her)

Erin O’Donnell (she/her)

I am honored to serve on the FUUSN Settled Minister Search Committee.  My husband and I started attending FUUSN in 2010 as we were planning to start our family and sought a family-friendly community to provide a base of connection and spiritual practice.  I deepened my FUUSN experience by teaching various ages of religious education, volunteering with retreats, co-chairing the search committee for an Assistant Director of Religious Life Education, and serving for many years as a Lay Minister.  FUUSN holds a special place in our family where it widens our community, exposes each of us to different ideas and perspectives, and encourages service and involvement.  It’s been a joy watching my kids build friendships with children and adults within our FUUSN community.  I agreed to serve on this search committee to engage in the deep conversations needed to learn more about who FUUSN is now and who we hope to be AND how we see the Settled Minister’s role in serving those needs and aspirations.  When not at FUUSN, I’m a Clinical Psychologist, wife and mother of two boys. I enjoy camping, travel and gardening.

Cindy Orrell (she/her)

Cindy Orrell (she/her)

I first came to FUUSN in 2000. I was newly separated and looking for a community where I could rebuild my life with my young daughters. I stayed because I found a community that cares for one another and also pushes me to practice kindness, acceptance, and civic engagement. I so appreciate the opportunities–whether during worship services, small group meetings, or retreats at Sandy Island–to engage in deep conversations about topics that matter to me and to the larger world. Over the years, I have been an RE teacher, Coming of Age coordinator and mentor, Chalice Circle facilitator, lay minister, coordinator for the Artisan Crafts table of the Holiday Fair, and most recently member of the Ministerial Search Committee. I enjoy travel, any type of boating, cooking, movies, and hanging out with my wife, children, and granddaughter.