• Dale Miller-Bouton

Pastoral Search Meeting #25

Forward Chats, Winter 2019-20 (Meetings #24 through #32)

Apologies to everyone for not keeping up with these reports. Chairing the Central Board created a heavy workload, and the notes from Forward Chats tended to get moved to the back burner. Writing on May 10, 2020 (Mother’s Day), I am reporting on nine meetings held from November 2019 through March 2020. In most cases, the whiteboard notes were brief. In a few, there were none taken. I am reporting what information I can find.

Meeting #25 – November 17, 2019:

Pastoral Search

The topic for this chat was how to go forward with our pastoral search, how much more interim work still needs to be done, what to look for in the next settled pastor, and how to structure the search. At various times there were 20-25 people present (some left early).

Based on the decision made in a Church Council meeting last spring, we have been looking for an Interim Pastor, not a Settled Pastor. In six months of searching, we have been unable to find anyone appropriate. Meanwhile we have done a lot of interim work on our own. Is it time to move on and just look for a settled pastor?

Certainly we have accomplished a lot through Forward Chats, by rewriting the bylaws and by creating a more centralized governing structure. But several people reminded us that the resentments related to Rev. Meade’s resignation last March have not been fully resolved, not to mention earlier conflicts. They questioned our capacity for facing and resolving conflict on our own without professional leadership, and they strongly encouraged the church to finish the interim work that remains to be done. They also questioned whether we really know what kind of church we are aiming to be and therefore what kind of pastor we should be looking for.

The majority of people in the meeting, however, were feeling impatient and anxious to move on. When a straw vote was taken, 17 of the 19 people then in the room (a few left early) wanted to accelerate the search for a settled pastor. The Central Board indicated that it would start working on the long-form Church Profile as soon as possible.

But it takes a long time to find a settled pastor even after you prepare the profile, which we have not yet even begun. For all our impatience to reach a place of stability, the realistic time frame of a pastoral search means we will need someone in the pastor’s role while we are looking.

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