Ministerial Search Committee Selects Co-Ministerial Candidates!

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.

Dear FUUSN Members and Friends:

When we last communicated with you, we reported that the Ministerial Search Committee had not found a minister but that the committee would continue with an accelerated, extended, round of search. It seemed like a long shot, but worth the effort to try.

The search committee received several strong applications during this second round. After intensive work, we could not be more thrilled to share with you that the committee has invited not one but TWO wonderful candidates to serve as co-ministers: Rev. Dr. Debra Haffner and 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.

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


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.


Please feel free to contact the committee at if you have questions. For the latest updates, please view our Ministerial Search page.