Church Council Meeting/Forward Chats 4/14/2019
Minutes** of Church Council Meeting
Sunday, April 14, 2019 - 11AM , Church Parlor
ATTENDANCE: The normal agenda was suspended for this meeting and the congregation as a whole was encouraged to attend. Attendance was not taken but about 35 people were present. As Moderator, Roger Moulton chaired the meeting.
PURPOSE: After an opening prayer, Roger described the purposes of the meeting as:
· looking forward, thinking about the appropriate direction and process regarding our next pastor
· planning an appropriate send-off for Fred.
Glenn Morris and Roger reported on their meeting with Associate Conference Minister Wendy Vander Hart:
Wendy recommends that we call an interim pastor. While she will provide more than one name, there is one she has in mind whom feels will be the best fit. We do not know this candidate’s identity, only that the person is not available until September.
· We will need to find pulpit supply for the weeks between June 16 (Fred’s last Sunday) and when the next pastor begins - date not yet determined but possibly for 11 or 12 weeks over the summer.
· Wendy also recommends that we hire Beth Horne as a consultant to help us “get going”
Roger agrees with Wendy’s recommendation.
· He sees an interim pastor as an opportunity to reset, to see our situation with fresh eyes.
· Although the transition has been difficult, he reminds us how much positive work we have done in the past three or four years
Crossroads/New Beginnings visioning process
We have stabilized the financial picture by reducing pastoral staff and selling one parsonage
We have transitioned from two pastors to one, and we are beginning to understand that we have to pick up some of the work formerly done by a pastor.
· Roger says that “no matter what we think about the conference or Wendy Vanderhart, their interests are very closely aligned with ours. They are a great source of information, support and also pastor candidates. It is our job to use our judgement to make the best use of this resource for Second Church missions and vision as we see it.”
BASIC INFORMATION ABOUT TYPES OF PASTORAL CONTRACTS:
Pulpit Supply – someone who comes in to do a Sunday service, one week at a time, as Jim Pocock has for us
Bridge Pastor – an extended pulpit supply with some additional responsibilities, not full time. This was Judy’s role. She was not hired to help us fix our problems, just to keep things cheerful until the next pastor arrived
Interim Pastor – full or near-full-time pastor with full responsibilities for up to 18 months. An Interim brings special training to help the church fix its problems before a settled pastor is called and cannot be kept on past the contract period. This is what Wendy Vander Hart and Roger Moulton are recommending for Second Church. There are only a handful of trained Interims in the Conference and many churches who need them, so the selection is likely to be limited.
Designated Term Pastor – full-time pastor with full responsibilities whose contract has an end date. Fred was hired as a designated term (see also “Additional Perspectives” below).
Settled Pastor – full-time pastor with full responsibilities whose contract has no end date
After discussion (see “Additional Perspectives” below), the group reached a consensus that we would call an interim pastor and then conduct a search for a settled pastor. We understand this will involve:
· Selecting, not searching for, an interim. The pool is likely to be small, and if we agree to call the person Wendy Vander Hart has in mind, this person will not arrive until September.
· Finding a pulpit supply for about eleven weeks during the summer (beginning June 23, probably ending September 1). This is the responsibility of the Chair of Deacons.
· Scheduling several sessions with Beth Horne, who will serve as an objective outside facilitator for a series of discussions to get us started dealing with our problems.
Beth helped with the implementation stage of Crossroads.
She has experience with declining churches with problems similar to ours.
She would have to be paid.
The work she is to help us do was not defined. Roger indicated that we would work out the topics with her when we meet with her.
* Bonnie Molino would like her to come to Forward Chats, but that may prove difficult as she has her own church
* Lauren Swiniuch agrees it would be good to have an outside facilitator without bias
· Roger and Glenn will move forward with the selection process for an interim
· Roger will discuss Beth Horne’s consultancy with the Deacons
· Roger is asking for three-five volunteers to undertake the selection process for the interim and to field questions from the congregation
SEND-OFF FOR FRED
· Wendy Linares has agreed to organize a send-off for Fred on his last Sunday, June 16.
· Current plan is:
Coffee hour reception including a cake
A releasing ceremony during the service
Asked about a gift, Dale Miller=Bouton suggested that the most appropriate thing would be a donation to a Disaster Relief Ministry (1)
Why not just search immediately for a settled pastor?
George Haile expressed the feelings of more than one person in wishing to start searching for a settled pastor now
Both Bonnie and Gail Goodell noted that we have a lot of work to do before we know what we need in our next pastor.
Others noted that the search process takes so long, we need to have someone more engaged with us than a series of pulpit supplies while we are looking
Suzanne Munroe hopes that we can begin the process for a settled pastor as soon as practical, possibly even before the arrival of the interim. Perhaps Beth Horne can help us get started.
Length of search makes an interim a wise choice
* Dale Miller-Bouton noted that a pastoral search takes quite a long time, easily a year and this is a reason to have an full or near-full time Interim pastor who is helping us move forward while the search is going on. That way the search can take however long it needs to take.
* Patty Boynton noted that the 2017-18 search was rushed because we had only a Bridge Pastor. We liked Judy a lot, but we were keeping her a lot longer than she wished to stay. The search process had been slow to start and by spring the Committee felt very pressed for time. Even though the range of candidates was disappointing, the Committee felt it had to make a choice rather than taking more time to start over.
Disenchantment with the Designated Term type of contract
* Bonnie Molino spoke as a member of the Search Committee, explaining that the category of “Designated Term” was fairly new last year and that the Committee felt the Conference was strongly encouraging us to choose that kind of contract (Bob called it the “flavor of the day”).
* Bonnie said that in opting for a Designated Term Pastor, the Committee hoped to get the best of both worlds, understanding from Wendy Vander Hart that a Designated Term pastor would bring skills much like those of an Interim, suitable for dealing with our problems and conflicts, but that the pastor could be converted to a permanent contract if they were working out really well. However, it was clear from the resumés that the candidates did not all have that same understanding of the position because many did not offer any special training in resolving conflicts. As it turned out, Fred did not have these skills either.
* Dale Miller-Bouton, also on the Search Committee, said they wondered if the better candidates did not apply because it was a Designated Term position, possibly not wanting the insecurity and murkiness of the short-term contract.
* Chuck Roy, also on the Search Committee, strongly agrees with Dale and Bonnie that defining the position as a Designated Term lost us some candidates. He also felt that the initial screening at the Conference level was not very well done
Mixed feelings about working with the Mass UCC Conference
* David Brandt asked whether we really had to use the UCC process for a search
* Doug Marquart says the Middleton (?) Church tried an independent search, and found that UCC pastors were loath to apply, fearing that they might hurt their future career if the UCC was unwilling thereafter to include them in the search listings
* In a separate discussion, Dale Miller-Bouton noted that there are recruiting agencies that specialize in personnel for religious institutions, but the discussion did not touch on whether that could be combined with a standard UCC search
* Bob Munroe feels skeptical about UCC leadership. He says WE, the congregation, need to decide where to take this church. Over the past five years, he has watched the UCC facilitate more than one renewal process (Vision 2000, Crossroads/New Beginnings), and he doesn’t feel it has created any significant change. What changed us was dropping from two pastors to one, which gave us greater financial stability and new staff. Now what we need is a pastor with a warm, welcoming personality. With that, we might not need the problem solver.
* Suzanne Munroe says that sometimes the devil you know (UCC in this case) is better than the devil you don’t know. If we don’t affiliate with the UCC, what religious organization will we work with? She doubts we are strong enough to go it alone and we might run into worse problems affiliating with the Methodists or Presbyterians.
* While acknowledging the mixed feelings in the congregation regarding the assistance provided by conference, Roger considers it to be to our benefit to work with Wendy Vander Hart and the conference. Her services are a benefit of our conference dues.
* Bonnie suggests that we may need to discuss our relationship with the UCC in a Forward Chat or similar setting
* Not all people are on the same page about the UCC
* When the UCC steps in to provide guidance, not everyone is happy about following their lead.
* To this day, not everyone is fully committed to Crossroads.
* If we are going to have a UCC facilitator guiding us through the next few months, we need to agree that we all really want that
Strain of a new search for a settled pastor
Sense of fatigue, always talking about church, struggling with yet more church business
* Elaine Roy wondered who would have the energy to go through a new search so soon?
* Dale Miller-Bouton says there are head-hunters that specialize in church staff – this would take some of the strain off the congregation
* Doug Marquart says the cost of a head-hunter is equal to about three to four months of salary for the position in question.
* David Brandt asked about other costs involved
* Roger confirmed that Beth Horne would have to be paid. Her services are not a conference benefit
* Doug said that the cost of a pulpit supply is less than the salary for a settled pastor
Pastoral Supply is an additional challenge
Someone said there are many resources for pulpit supply, but Suzanne (who dealt with this last year as Chair of Deacons) noted that the Conference list of supply pastors was not kept up to date, and that several of the people on it were dead.
Pulpit supply involves two separate problems:
* Preaching at Sunday worship
* Pastoral care in emergencies (death and serious illness).
Pastors in town are often willing to provide emergency pastoral care coverage for each other during vacations, but we can’t take advantage of that because we have no one to return the favor.
Wendy Linares and Jim Pocock may be available.
In the past, members of the congregation have done sermons to cover Sunday services
· Roger is officially appointing Peg Round as the Assistant Treasurer to help David Varga. Bookkeeping was her professional field and she has already agreed to take this on.
· Bob Munroe expressed gratitude and appreciation to Bonnie Molino for her leadership of deacons during a very difficult year.
· Patty Boynton feels that Forward Chats is a good idea and that we should keep it going. Lauren Swiniuch agreed that last week was an important milestone allowing us to move forward. Bonnie refers people to the notes about the meetings on the website.
· Doug Marquart remarked that most people recognize that we need to change and will say that they want change, but when a specific actual change is proposed, they put on the brakes. [Sorry I can’t remember the context for this observation]
**Draft submitted by Nancy Rexford Subbing for the Clerk
Posted with permission of the Moderator
Discussion comments are recorded by topic, not in the order spoken
(1) Fred is the Massachusetts Conference Disaster Coordinator (CDC). His role is to act as a liaison between the Conference Disaster Team, the conference and UCC Disaster Ministries. CDCs are the backbone of UCC Disaster Ministries' domestic preparedness and long-term recovery efforts.