Unitarian congregation in Grass Valley ‘calls’ its new minister
May 11, 2016
A Grass Valley congregation provided an unusual twist Sunday in sending out a "call" to its new minister.
The Rev. Kevin Tarsa, a 52-year-old Michigan native, was called to be the new pastor at the Unitarian Unversalist Community of the Mountains, 246 S. Church St. And the call was issued literally, out loud, when the congregation assembled outside in front of the church.
Tarsa was staying in Lamb's Victorian Inn across the street from the UU church during his 10-day candidate's visit. And he was waiting in the inn to learn if the congregation voted to offer the position to him.
Upon adjournment of the congregational meeting, the members assembled in front of the church where, on the count of three, they loudly shouted, "Kevin, Kevin, Kevin!"
Upon hearing the repeated chanting of his name, he came over from the inn, stood in the middle of Walsh Street in front of the crowd and said, "You called?"
He brought his camera, took a photo of the crowd facing him, and then announced he accepted the call. He will begin on Aug. 1, after completing a two-year interim ministry at Beaufort, S.C.
David MacLeod, president of the congregation's board of trustees, reported the vote for Tarsa was unanimous.
The new minister succeeds Rev. David Usher, who served as interim pastor since September 2014. Usher is looking forward to retirement after 35 years in ministry, and living in San Mateo after marrying the Rev. Vail Weller in early August. Weller serves as Congregational Giving Director for the Unitarian Universalist Association, headquartered in Boston.
Usher added he might become involved in part-time ministry and noted he and his bride are looking forward to various camping trips.
Tarsa served for 23 years as the Director and then Minister of Music with the UU Congregation of Grand Traverse, Mich. He spent six years in seminary study at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, which led to internships at Wayland, Mass., and with the Michigan UU Social Justice Network. He also served a year as interim music and pastoral care minister in Lansing, Mich., before his two years in South Carolina.
Tarsa said he is "drawn to the deeply engaged and creative spirit of the people at UUCM. There is a synergy between the congregation's strengths and my own gifts that will call forth the best in each of us."
He said he also is attracted to this area because of its small town atmosphere, the "local community rich with music and art, and the abundant natural beauty within easy reach." His broad interests include hiking, biking, photography, gardening, yoga, cooking, playing piano and snowshoeing.
Tarsa's call came after a year-long procedure that began with the selection of a seven-member search committee. The procedure involved a congregational survey and several focus groups, plus the compiling of an 18-page congregational profile, copies of which were provided to prospective candidates.
Taylor Carey, chairman of the search committee, reported, "Rev. Tarsa was our first and unanimous choice out of several candidates, including three others who were interviewed."
He said, "Rev. Tarsa struck us with his warmth, caring, insight, and charisma. He showed compassionate interest in us, conversing easily and, at times, playfully, as we enjoyed an evident connection with one another."
Also serving on the search committee were George Dunstan, vice chair; Beth Freedman, Corrie Silva, Lindsay Dunckel, Bev Lyon and Keith Johnson.