In Liminal Time:
Starting Points

Beginning the Interim Process

Good Boundaries for Religious Education Transitions: An Essay
In this essay, experienced interim religious educator Karen Scrivo explores issues that every interim religious educator should know. Karen is now an ordained community minister who resides in Maryland.​

The Importance of the ​Interim Interview: An Essay
This essay written by Michele Grove offers important points to consider for the interim religious educator as well as for congregations who in search of an interim professional and in the interviewing process.

Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.

Robert Frost

Sample Agreement for Interim Religious Educator
This sample letter of agreement (as recommended by the Guild of Religious Educators) covers the valuable aspects of an agreement between the interim religious educator and the congregation. A good interim religious educator’s ​job description and agreement include:​

  • Clear guidelines for doing transitional work during the interim period
  • An understanding of the need to balance interim work with the work that helps ​carry out the essential functions of the religious education program
  • A total fair compensation package for the interim professional​​ ​

New Tax Law Affects Employee Moving Expenses
Congregational Search Committees, along with ministers and other religious professionals starting a new position beginning in 2018, need to be aware of the suspension of two moving-related benefits in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

Tools for the Interim Start-Up

Offering a start-up retreat for the interim religious educator provides a great opportunity for the congregation to set goals for the interim period and to covenant with the interim religious educator around priorities and expectations. This retreat is usually led by an outside facilitator or regional staff person. Many regions include funding for such start-up programs in their budget. Check with regional staff on the availability of ​such programs in your area.

​Included here is a sample Powerpoint presentation used to lead an interim start-up, a sample agenda with detailed notes, and a responsibility worksheet. Thanks to experienced Interim Religious Educators Sandra Greenfield and Steven Mead for sharing these resources!

Tools for Interim Process

The Interim Process helps to give a congregation the opportunity to reflect on its religious education past, understand its current religious education ​identity, ​and dream about its religious education future. This process is adapted to meet the unique needs of each congregation during the transitional period. Tools listed on this site can be used to support both the interim professional and the congregation in transition.

Change is never painful. Only resistance to change is painful.


Interim Tools ​in your ​Settled Work
In this essay, Kim Mason speaks to the value of the interim process for the settled religious educator and provides a thorough overview of the interim process. Kim, an experienced religious educator for fifteen years, is now a candidate for the Unitarian Universalist ministry and a student at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago.

Reflection Tool for the Interim Process​
Professional Interim Religious Educators, transitional leaders, as well as lay leaders, may find this narrative tool helpful in exploring their congregation’s current religious education identity. This tool can be used individually or in a group setting.

A Quick Guide to Interim Tasks
​Over the years, Interim Tasks have evolved to meet the changing needs of congregations. This chart provides a summary of the Interim Tasks: The Developmental Tasks and Focus Points representing the work of the congregation and the Process Tasks for the Interim leader. Included is a brief history and changes to the tasks which were a part of the training when interim religious education was invented in 2005 as compared to the tasks used today. More on this subject can be found in resources provided by the Interim Ministry Network.

One-year, Two-years or More?
​When a settled religious educator leaves their position, it may create a great deal of anxiety in the congregation and among leaders, both settled and lay. This anxiety may lead the congregation to want to move quickly through the interim period in order to get back to some semblance of “normalcy.” However moving too quickly through an interim process may leave a lot of unfinished work which can show up in unhealthy ways. Our transitional timeline demonstrates how an interim process looks over a one-year interim and a two-year interim.

Tools for Building Safety

The interim period is a prime time to focus one congregational safety, to evaluate safety practices and to suggest new approaches, policies and procedures. It provides an opportunity for modeling strong safety practices, to live into new norms, to process concerns or ambivalence prior to the arrival of the settled religious professional.

Safety isn’t just a slogan, it’s a way of life

Program Safety Assessment Tools
Unitarian Universalists have been at the forefront of developing and implementing safe congregation policies. This is vitally important as safety for all persons is a central part of our ministry and outreach. Interim religious educators come into their positions knowing that assessing and updating safe congregation policies is top priority. ​

These assessment tools were developed by Kim Sweeney, a credentialed Religious Educator and independent consultant who worked for seven years as the lead for Faith Formation and Safe Congrega-tions on the UUA’s New England Regional staff team. Kim is the author of “The Death of Sunday School & the Future of Faith Formation.” These safety tools will help congregations evaluate their current safety programs and be able to determine what updates need to be made.

Safety Assessment for Ministry with Children is essential for any congregation’s religious education program. Safety Assessment for Ministry with Youth and ​will be a welcome guide for congregations that want to build safer Youth programs.

Tools for Building Healthy Programs

From the beginning of their work in a congregation, interim religious educators know that they need to balance intentional transitional work with the regular running of the religious education program. Choices need to be made during the interim period; the religious education program may not run in the same way it did in the past. Still, religious education provides necessary services that cannot take a break. This page is dedicated to many of the tools that will support the healthy function of a religious education program.

Shared Ministry Team Assessment
The UUA’s 2013 Shared Ministry Task Force looked carefully at what it means to be in shared ministry. Over the past several years, this task force worked with other religious professionals to develop a staff team assessment model that is helpful in understanding the full picture of staff relations.

Town Hall Meeting Model
One of the great interim tools for discerning one or more interim tasks involves hold-ing a Town Hall meeting for the congregation. Interim Religious Educator Steven Mead designed this model which you may find useful in your own interim work or in the transition work of your congregation.

Tools for Storytelling

Step out of the history that is holding you back. Step into the new story you are willing to create.

Oprah Winfrey

Using Storytelling in Transitional Settings
Erica Shadowsong demonstrates how powerful storytelling can be in a time of transition. Erica, a trained Interim Religious Educator currently serving in a settled RE position, offers the reader an introduction to storytelling and its empowering role for congregations in transition. She also includes elements that will be useful for anyone who wishes to use storytelling in their ministry.

Tools for the Settled Search

The Search for a Settled Religious Professional ​and a Sample Search Website​
​During the last months of an interim religious educator’s tenure, the congregation will enter into a search process for a settled professional leader. It is unwise for the interim religious educator to be directly involved in this search, as this is the work of the congregation. However, the interim professional can play an important role in the process by connecting those who are conducting the search process with helpful resources and tools. This page curates some of these resources.

​Many congregations are utilizing the internet to advertise their positions and engage interest from candidates. A webpage for the professional search serves as a homebase for communication and application documents; this template from the Guild of Interim Religious Educators takes you to a sample professional search website which is designed to give ideas and inspire your own unique creation.

Timeline for the Settled ​Religious Educator Search​
​This suggested search timeline was created by Interim Religious Educator Steven Mead. It offers a good sample of a well-thought-out search. Even though there is some flexibility built into this timeline, best practices are represented in the timeline. ​

Major Milestones

  • May-July – Board decides on scope of effort, job hours, title, start date, minimum qualifications, who has the authority to hire, et al.
  • Jun-July – Board forms a search committee of four to five people
  • Aug – Search Committee begins to prepare job description, job announcement, a publicity plan
  • Oct – Conduct an RE Town Hall ―to find out the kind of program desired and qualities they should seek in an interim. This discussion then informs the Search Committee for their work
  • Nov-Dec – Preparation of the job search website and interview questions
  • Jan – “Go live” with the website – Jan. 1st “drop deadline” means committee is ready to post a position opening
  • Mar-May – Interviews
  • May-June – Selection, negotiation, and agreement
  • Aug 1 – Start date as negotiated

Places to Advertise

  • – The LREDA website has a great website for advertising for open religious education positions. To learn more about how to post a job on the LREDA website, click here.
  •​​ – The UUA has resources for advertising positions. They also have links to job sites in UUA regions.

A Quick Guide: Do’s and Don’ts for the Interim Religious Educator During the Settled Search Process


  • Communicate with the congregation if there is unaccomplished work surrounding religious education
  • Affirm the congregation on all the good work they accomplished during the interim period.
  • Listen when anxiety arises. Help the congregation and search committee understand that anxiety is a normal part of the search and that everything will be alright
  • Direct the search committee to regional and denominational resources to support their work


  • Be a member of the search committee.
  • Interfere. The congregation will hire the professional who will partner with them in their continued religious education vision. This is the congregation’s work

The In Liminal Time portion of the website was made possible by a LREDA Twenty-first Century Grant. We are grateful for their vision and support of this work and all elements that support excellence in religious education leadership. Find out more at on how to become a LREDA member.