Interim News

We Have a New (Interim) Minister!

Here’s a Big Welcome to Rev. Dr. Cathy Harrington

Photo of Rev. Dr. Cathy Harrington

As you might guess, UU ministers have their own websites these days.  Check out Rev. Cathy’s website here to learn the basics. Keep reading below to learn why the Interim Search Committee chose her, read a greeting from Rev. Cathy, and at the very end, read more about this interim period.

Here’s a note from Ryan Williams on behalf of the Interim Search Committee: Ryan, Iris Hardin, Tory Schmitz, and Charlie Marks:

It is my pleasure and honor to help introduce to our community, on behalf of the Interim Search Committee as well as the UUCA Board of Trustees, our new UUCA Interim Minister.

My first impressions of Rev. Cathy included intrigue about her journey to ministry.  Prior to becoming a minister, she worked as a hairdresser in South Carolina, and later owned and operated a bakery in Alaska. However, once she found herself called to ministry work, she seemed to go at it with her all.

Rev. Dr. Harrington has her Doctorate in Ministry and was our most experienced candidate in the work of interim and transitional ministry. In our initial conversation, I recall her sharing that it was interim work in particular that she felt was her calling and the words shared by her former interim congregants strongly supported that gift. These references all expressed deep emotion, appreciation, and gratitude for the work she helped them do.

In her professional role as well as an individual, she has continuously brought her belief in the importance of anti-racism and anti-oppression work to the forefront. Her story involves deep spiritual work and involvement with organizations ranging from the NAACP to the ACLU to even the Department of Defense.

She has provided spiritual support for and in some cases even testimony on behalf of families of murder victims and juveniles facing life without parole. She served as a police chaplain for the Chattanooga Police Department. She is trained in conflict analysis, engagement, and mediation, is a trained facilitator for the North American Institute for the Healing of Memories, and has recently been asked to join the UU Trauma Response Team.

Rev. Cathy is highly skilled with technology and is already thoughtfully considering the many questions and concerns around our in-person reopening. To top it all off, in both interviews and official conversations as well as in phone calls and texts, she has demonstrated a reassuring sense of confidence, a strong loving heart, and a sharp (perhaps wicked) sense of humor. All of her skills, experiences, and qualities will help make the coming interim period an exciting, rewarding and transformative two years.

Rev. Dr. Harrington will officially begin her work with us starting on August 1.  In August, let’s all welcome her with open arms!


And here’s a happy hello from Rev. Cathy:

Greetings Members and Friends of UUCA,

I am excited and honored to have been chosen to serve as your interim minister during this time of transition and look forward to our time together.  As I have gotten older and wiser, my main goal in life has been to cultivate joy in my personal life and in my ministry.  I tell you this because though we have a lot of hard work to do, we are first going to take time to get to know each other and have fun together.  I want to learn about your accomplishments, challenges, joys, and concerns as well as your hopes and dreams for the future. And we will be carefully navigating the complex challenge of returning to church as the pandemic restrictions are gradually lifted.

As an accredited interim minister (AIM), I have completed multiple trainings and enjoyed years of successful service to multiple UU congregations. I love doing this specialized type of ministry and have claimed as my motto “Love them and leave them.” Saying goodbye is the hardest part of this work but having the privilege to walk this transitional journey with Unitarian Universalist congregations has been the most significant and rewarding ministry of my career.

I will be coming to you from Traverse City, Michigan after serving the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Grand Traverse for two years. And am pleased that my dear 97-year-old mother and my older sister will be joining me in Asheville. Thanks to Linda Topp for noticing a “For Rent” sign in her neighborhood, we found a wonderful home with no effort!  Between the three of us, we have a houseful including our two cats and one small dog.  My husband, Jim, will continue to hold down the fort in our home in Ludington, Michigan but will visit often, especially in winter. 😊  We are looking forward to enjoying the natural beauty and diverse culture of the Asheville area!

See you soon!
Rev. Cathy Harrington


More information about this interim period:

UUCA is about to embark on one of the most significant periods of transition and change that a church can experience – the retirement of a long-time beloved minister. After seventeen years, Rev. Mark Ward will soon be retiring and entering the next phase of his life. For many of us, this change brings feelings of uncertainty and even grief. It can also simultaneously bring a sense of excitement about new possibilities and opportunities. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our congregation has been preparing for this moment for a good while. Now, after two years of “moving towards the interim period,” we are officially about to actually enter it.

The interim period is a two-year period that enables us to grieve and heal from feelings of loss, to collectively reflect on our own history, and then to create and define our own unique vision for what we seek for our next chapter. During this time, we will also select our next called minister.  This is big work and though it is OUR work to do as a congregation, the importance of a good guide can hardly be understated.

Fortunately, within the UUA, there are ministers who are trained and called specifically for this type of transitional work. Over the last two years, the Interim Search Committee has worked to identify an Interim Minister who can lead us through this process. The committee met with a number of intelligent, inspiring ministers and held many thoughtful and thought-provoking conversations. In the end however, there were those that stood apart from the others and then at last, there was one.  Welcome Rev. Cathy!

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