TRAVERSE CITY — Unity of Traverse City near Acme took months to choose a new minister and then waited patiently for her to fulfill her previous assignment.
“We did it over the course of a year,” said Libby Robold, chairman of the church’s search committee. “There was a lot of anticipation and excitement about this person but we made it clear that we were going to take our time and get the person we wanted and know that we made the right choice.”
Eileen Stulak, 53, finally will preside over her first service as Unity senior minister at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. She will be the church’s first permanent senior minister since the Rev. Crystal Yarlott left in Nov. 2011.
“My lesson Sunday is entitled ‘Ready or Not,’” said Stulak, formerly associate minister of Congregational Care and Ministry Programs at Unity Church of Overland Park, Kan. “It’s going to be a celebratory day to kick off the next chapter of this (church) community.”
Robold said Stulak was selected for the position from about a dozen applicants based on her administrative and speaking skills, her compassion and other personality traits, her interest in community outreach, and her ability to establish rapport and work with people of all ages, backgrounds and learning styles.
But it was her unique nature that ultimately made her the clear choice.
“She is warm, receptive and has a calm, peaceful nature,” Robold said. “These are stressful times mentally. We’re bombarded with news that’s not all positive. We need to digest that, and it helps when you can go to a spiritual center or church where there is someone who exudes a sense of calm, groundedness and confidence.”
A Pittsburgh native and grandmother of two, Stulak moved to Houston in 1983 to work in commercial insurance and risk management, training and development. A long-time Catholic, she said she began to question her faith after having reached a point that she did not agree with Catholic theology. She accepted a friend’s invitation to a Unity church and 16 months later “received that inner call to be a minister.”