by Co-Chair Linton Childs
After the retirement of Pastor Bill Bordonaro and the installation of Pastor Beth Dickerson as our Interim Pastor in late 2014, a Pastoral Search Committee was formed to conduct a search for our next called pastor. Dean Arnold and I are Co-Chairs. Members include Judy Beaupre, Kathy Rodriguez, David Digel, Leroy Larsen, Robin Schultz, Ryan Andrews, Melissa Nelson, Linda Zawada, and Scott Beaderstadt.
In our denomination, a congregation seeking a pastor is required to put together a church profile which informs candidates about the church and the position. The church profile includes objective data about the church’s membership, its building and finances, characteristics of the community where the church is located, and narrative answers to questions about major events in the life of the congregation, what God is calling our congregation to do or become, how we believe the next pastor will help achieve those goals, strengths of the congregation, our worship style, our theology, our attitude toward the denomination, our relationship with past pastors, and our expectations for our next pastor, among other topics. Putting this document together was a major undertaking. Writing, debating, and rewriting the profile helped us discern and discern what we believe will be most important for the congregation in the years ahead.
In late 2015, we submitted our draft of the profile to the Chicago Metropolitan Association for review. After receiving comments from Conference Minister Vertie Powers, we revised the profile (a 30-page, single-spaced document) and submitted the final version on January 8, 2016. We also created a short version which is available online.
Ministers who are searching for a called pastor position put together their own document which is also called a profile. Each candidate’s profile contain a great deal of information including the candidate’s education, career history, ordination status, essays on various topics, a self-appraisal, statements from references, and other background information. A typical pastor profile is about 20 pages long. Because of the sensitive nature of some of the information that is included, and because some of the candidates have positions with congregations which may not know that they are seeking another position, the search committee is required to agree to treat the information in the profiles as confidential. Ministers who are interested in being considered by a given congregation, like Bethany, authorize the Illinois Conference to forward their pastoral profile to the congregation.
We have now received 30 complete profiles plus letters of inquiry from a couple of other potential candidates. We have received profiles from all over the country and from pastors with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. The level of interest in our congregations is encouraging. We have now reviewed 29 of these 30 profiles in detail as a committee. Meeting almost weekly since February, we have reviewed new profiles as they have arrived, have discussed and debated them in depth, and have tried to identify those candidates who appear to be promising and those which do not appear to be promising. For candidates we are interested in considering further, we generally obtained video or audio of recent sermons and watched and discussed them as a group at a later meeting.
The next step for those candidates in whom we are interested is to send our profile to the candidate. Up until this point, candidates have generally only seen the short, online version of our profile. Assuming the candidate remains interested and we decide to move on to the next step, we have then proceeded to set up an initial interview or meeting, either in person or by phone. The objective of this initial interview or meeting is to get to know the candidate better and give the candidate a chance to get to know us better, so we can make a mutual decision about whether to proceed to a second interview. Before proceeding to a second interview, we are also checking the candidates’ references.
When a candidate comes for a second interview, we will also give them a tour of the church building, a tour of the neighborhood, and have at least one informal meal in addition to the formal interview. At the formal interview, we intend to ask a series of structured questions that will focus on the key attributes we are looking for and give us the ability to compare answers by different candidates.
Currently, we are at the “initial meeting/interview stage” and we hope to proceed to the second interview stage soon. We have conducted on in-person initial meeting, have a second initial interview (to be conducted by phone) scheduled for the coming week, and are in the process of scheduling a third such initial interview for a date in the near future. We have one second interview scheduled in late May and will decide based on the results of our initial interviews of the other candidates (and the results of our discussions with their references) whether to proceed to second interviews with those candidates.
All of us believe that finding the right person to call as our next pastor is tremendously important to Bethany’s future that it is and worth taking the time to make the right decision. We appreciate your prayers, patience, and support as we move closer to the end of this long process.