In the off chance that you haven’t noticed, the calendar changed from ’12 to ’13.
Ordinarily this wouldn’t be such a big deal, one year follows another. But this year is different for us – for you, because of your participation in the life of our congregation, and for me because I will be completing the ministry I was called to here twenty-nine years ago.
I have six months of active ministry left and four summer weeks of being on call before your new interim minister arrives.
Are you familiar with the transitional process? It’s pretty straightforward: the Board will hire an interim minister to serve for a year, with a renewable clause that allows the interim to serve for two years if both the minister and congregation are satisfied. Our Board has asked three non-board and four board members to serve as the interim ministry search committee. They will find and hire the interim minister.
The members of the congregation will elect a Ministerial Search Committee consisting of nine members, as called for in our constitution, whose task will be to search and select a candidate for the senior ministry position. If that process goes well, as it expected to do, the Search Committee will present its candidate to the congregation in the spring of the second year of transition.
The candidate will conduct two consecutive Sunday services and spend the intervening week meeting with members, committees, the Board, local clergy, and so forth, and at the conclusion of the second of the two services he or she will decide whether it feels like a good fit, and at the conclusion of the second service a special meeting of the congregation will be held, and the members of the congregation will vote to extend a call, or not. The vote to call requires 80% of those present and voting.
You will note the difference between the term hire and the term call. The Board will hire an interim minister and the congregation – active voting members – will call the new minister, who will then be referred to as the settled minister.
The process is, as I said, pretty straightforward. But it can be a bit unsettling, especially in the case of a long-term settled senior minister.The process of concluding my ministry with you has been a bit unsettling for me and for you. It’s inevitable. I’ve been your settled minister for nearly three decades – the leaving process is, of necessity, unsettling. Literally.
By any standard my ministry here has been long. It has been so long, in fact, that 90% of the current members joined during the 29 years I’ve served. While there was some controversy included in the unsettling process, in the final analysis it came about by mutual agreement. During the next six months I will be writing, preaching and talking about what for me has been an extremely gratifying and challenging chapter in my life, and in the life of the congregation. I hope you will be an active participant in the leave-taking process – I’d be glad to meet with you one-on-one if you’d like. Happy New Year!