Frequently Asked Questions about Candidating Week

Wondering how the candidating process will work?
Here are answers to questions you may have.

Who is our candidate?

Our candidate is the Reverend Jennifer Innis. A lifelong UU, she was ordained in 2000 and has held ministerial positions with eight UU congregations in Massachusetts, Alabama, South Carolina, Texas, and Illinois. She is currently the Interim Co-Minister at the UU Society of Geneva, Illinois. A more detailed biography of Rev. Jennifer is here. The Search Committee is very pleased to have Rev. Jennifer as our candidate because of her extensive experience and outstanding skills. 

When will Candidating Week take place?

Under normal circumstances, a candidate would be in Peoria for just over a week so that the congregation could meet with them in person. Because the corona virus pandemic requires us to stay safe at home, we’ll need to do things differently this year.

Our candidating process will be done virtually, with opportunities to see and speak with the candidate over the internet. In order to provide enough time for us to get to know each other, the candidating process is being extended to two weeks. It will start on the afternoon of Sunday, April 19th, and continue through Sunday, May 3rd.

Why can’t we postpone Candidating Week until we can do it in person?

The UUA has recommended that the best option is to proceed with a virtual candidating process, and the Search Committee and Board of Trustees are following that recommendation. There are several reasons:

  • We do not know when we will all be able to meet in person again. It seems likely that we may need to stay at least partially isolated for several more months.
  • Our church needs a new minister to ensure that we have continuity of leadership.
  • We cannot ask our candidate to put her life and livelihood on hold. That would be unfair to Rev. Jennifer and her family.

How will the congregation and the candidate get to know each other?

There will be many virtual opportunities to interact with Rev. Jennifer. During the first week of candidating, she will be meeting with the staff and several committees. During the second week, you can attend virtual cottage meetings, so you have a chance to get to know her and have your questions answered. A schedule will be posted on our website and sent to everyone by email.

In addition, updated information about Rev. Jennifer and candidating activities will be provided on our website, by email, on the church Facebook page, and in the chat. We are doing our best to make sure this process goes smoothly so that we can all get a sense of who our candidate is and why she will make a wonderful minister for our church.

Will Rev. Jennifer be preaching for us during this time?

Yes! Rev. Jennifer will be leading our church’s virtual services on April 26th and May 3rd. We strongly recommend you tune in to see her lead the service and preach a sermon. To watch the services live, please go to the church Facebook Live Videos or the Website Service Stream page at 10:30 am. As always, the services will be available on Facebook and Youtube after the live stream has ended. 

What about those who don’t have a computer or internet access?

The Board and the Search Committee are committed to give every member of the church the opportunity to be a part of the candidating process if they choose. We are doing our best to find a way for that to happen under the current circumstances. Staff members are coordinating an effort to identify and contact congregants who may need additional assistance so they can receive printed information about our candidate by mail.  

How will we vote?

An online congregational meeting will be held after the service on May 3rd, at which time we will vote on whether to call Rev. Jennifer as our next minister. Please join us for this very important meeting. Instructions for participating will be provided as soon as possible. The Board is looking into how members who do not have internet access can vote (probably by telephone).

How many votes are needed to approve the candidate?

Holding a congregational meeting requires a quorum of 20% of our total membership, which is approximately 75 members. Our by-laws state that approval by 75% of voting members present is required to call a minister. However, the Search Committee and the candidate are expecting a much higher attendance percentage and are looking for an approval rate of 95% or more.

The vote will offer two choices for calling the minister, “yes” or “no.” If voting members wish to abstain, they can do so by not casting a vote. However, please be aware that our by-laws specify that the percentage of approval is based on the number of voting members present, not the number of votes cast. Therefore, abstaining has the same effect as casting a “no” vote.

This is an important decision for the future of our church, and we urge all voting members to participate.

If we call Rev. Jennifer as our new minister, when will she begin her pastorate?

If called by the congregation, Rev. Jennifer will officially begin her pastorate with us on August 1, 2020. She will, of course, be meeting with and communicating with members and staff in the weeks leading up to that date.

Who will cover the minister’s responsibilities during July?

Services in July of this year will be either live or virtual lay-led services, as they normally are in the summer. Rev. Dave will not be available, since his date of departure as our interim minister is June 30th. He will be moving on to his next ministerial opportunity. Any urgent pastoral needs will be met by local clergy who are familiar with our church and are on call to assist us in times of ministerial absence. Our Caring Committee will also be available to reach out to congregants.

Will we have an Assistant Minister next year?

Rev. Lynnda White will be leaving us at the end of June to live closer to her family. It is clear that we will not have an Assistant Minister when the church year begins in September. There is a line item in the 2020–2021 budget to fund an Assistant Minister position for the second half of the church year. A search for the right person to fill that position will take place with the input of our new minister.

Is There Another Way to Get Updates?

The church now has a telephone information system.  The service allows those that either do not have online access or those who are simply more comfortable using the phone to get up to date information about what is going on with the church and especially information about choosing our new settled minister.  To access the system simply dial (309) 282-0566 from any touch tone phone.  If you know of someone that might benefit from this service please share this information with them.

How can I ask other questions?

If you have other questions, please email the Search Committee at We’ll get back to you within a day or so. We’ll also share new or updated questions and answers by email and on our website.

Thank you for supporting and participating in the candidating process!

Minister Search Committee



Thoughts on Ministry

Candidating Week FAQ