Pastoral search — next step

Since Pastor Ara started as our Interim Pastor in September, we are now ready for the next step — selecting a search committee to embark on the process of looking for our next settled pastor.

At Sunday’s mid-year congregational meeting (Jan. 27), a quorum of our congregation approved a slate of members for that committee:

  • Nancy Pressley
  • Amy Kilburn
  • Chad Hayden
  • Linda Baird
  • Vicky Wall
  • Bonita Earl
  • Sean Carlson

The goal is to include a diverse group that represents different aspects of our congregation — longtime and newer members, younger and more mature, and diverse in other ways as well.

The search committee will now begin the process of considering candidates “authorized to circulate a ministerial profile within the United Church of Christ.” Additional information about how the search process works within our congregation can be found in Article X, Sections 3 and 4 of our Church By-Laws.

Our previous moderator Nancy Pressley wrote about the transition process last year, after Pastor Chris announced that he would be leaving to take a call at another congregation:

“Change and transition have always been a part of the life of our church.  Please take a look at the timeline below that has been prepared for the 60th Anniversary Celebration as a way of seeing the transitions that have occurred since our church was formed 60 years ago. In our church’s history, we have had 10 settled pastors and six interim pastors” [now seven with Pastor Ara].

We appreciate the deliberation and prayerful consideration that this search committee will invest into choosing our next pastoral candidate. The process is confidential, and will happen on God’s timeline, not ours.

Words of Gratitude from Robin

Cliffs of Moher in Northern Ireland

Photo above:  Cliffs of Moher in Northern Ireland, breathtakingly beautiful!

I am grateful to this congregation for my time away. The sabbatical was amazing.  I am spiritually filled and open to God in new and exciting ways.

Robin CarlsonI traveled to Ireland with my son, Sean, and we walked on the land of our ancestors as well as drove all over the island (on the ‘other’ side of the road).

I met so many wonderful, kind, and generous people in Ireland and experienced amazing moments of grace.

I want to express my thanks to this church, and to Rev. Dr. Norman Broadbent, Julia Penner-Zook, EJ Hinojosa, Marilyn Wall, Nancy Pressley and all of the VBS volunteers for their gifts so freely shared.

I am excited to be back and look forward to our time together.


Message from our Moderator about this time of transition

Dear CUCC members and friends,

Most, if not all of you, have learned recently that Pastor Chris has accepted a call to Foothill Congregational  Church in Los Altos, CA. His last Sunday with us will be April 1st, Easter Sunday.

Pastor Chris and his family are very dear to me, as I am sure they must be to you, and I will miss them very much. I was deeply touched by his heartfelt letter announcing his decision.

Please join with me in thanking him for his inspiration and leadership in our congregation and in the wider community as we celebrate his remaining time with us, and wish him and his family well on their ministry journey.

Transition can be an unsettling thing, maybe especially to newer members who haven’t experienced a change of pastor with our congregation. In response to questions that have come up and in anticipation of additional questions, I hope the following information will be helpful:

How will we honor Pastor Chris as he is released from covenant with CUCC?

There is a Ritual of Covenant Release, which generally takes place on the pastor’s last Sunday separate and apart from the Sunday service. Participants include the pastor, the congregation and representatives from the Northern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ (NCNCUCC) and the Sequoia Association in which we participate with other Central California UCC churches.  This is generally a time to celebrate the work that has been accomplished together and a time to say good-bye. The date and time for this are yet to be determined.

What is the process when a minister leaves?

There are UCC-defined policies and practices to guide us as we prepare for Pastor Chris’ release from his call with CUCC.  We will be assisted by the NCNCUCC and the Sequoia Association as our covenantal partners in this process.

In the very near future, a search committee, representative of our congregation, will be formed by Council to seek an interim pastor. The Conference will provide us profiles of pastors who are interested in interim work to be considered for this position.

Once the interim is selected, approved and installed by our congregation, a settled pastor search committee will be formed to work with the congregation, Council and the interim to develop a church profile. Pastors who are interested in our church based on this profile will be considered by the search committee for the settled position.

How long can the search and call process take?

Search and call will take time and discernment and will require patience and understanding from all of us. Generally it takes a few months to find an interim and a year to a year and a half to find a settled pastor.

What will we do in the likely event there is a time lapse between selecting an interim pastor and Pastor Chris’ release?

In the past, we have invited others to fill the pulpit on Sundays and have been blessed with ordained ministers associated with our congregation who can carry out the sacraments of communion, baptism, wedding and funerals as well as preach on occasion.

We are extremely fortunate to have our Commissioned Minister of Religious Education Robin Carlson who leads our worship planning team and is an excellent preacher and, our Music Director EJ Hinojosa provides the wonderful music, which is a vital component in the life of our church.

What is an interim pastor?

An interim pastor is one who is trained in the specific skills needed to guide and serve churches between settled pastorates. The interim assists the search committee in developing the church profile through the input provided by the congregation.

The interim will help us take this time as an opportunity to look at our strengths and weaknesses, to capitalize on our strengths and to be open to new opportunities. The interim cannot become the settled pastor under any circumstances.

How will the congregation be involved in the selection of the pastor?

The congregation will provide the vital input needed for the development of the church profile. This is generally accomplished through meetings, surveys, etc. The search committee will represent the wishes of the congregation.

How will the congregation be informed about the progress of the search committees?

Once the church profile has been developed with input from the congregation and interim pastor, and the search committee begins considering candidates for the position, the work of the search committees becomes confidential until such time a pastor is recommended for consideration by the congregation.

Change and transition have always been a part of the life of our church.  Please take a look at the timeline below that has been prepared for the 60th Anniversary Celebration as a way of seeing the transitions that have occurred since our church was formed 60 years ago. In our church’s history, we have had 10 settled pastors and six interim pastors.

The process I have described in this letter has worked well for us in the past and I believe it will lead us to a successful outcome. I look forward to our work together as we say goodbye to Pastor Chris and welcome a future minister.

In grace and gratitude,

Nancy Pressley, Moderator, 2017-18

CUCC Timeline_Page_1

CUCC Timeline_Page_2

Special Announcement: Pastor Chris Breedlove to resign

A message from Pastor Chris:

I often marvel at the enduring tie that binds congregational members. Many of our longtime stalwart members have enjoyed deep abiding friendships with one another for years that even surpass the ages of their adult children.

I’m pleased that Community UCC continues to be a vibrant and thriving congregation with members from diverse origins. The spirit of love and grace is alive and well at Community United Church of Christ.

For the past six years, it has been my sacred honor to bless, baptize, confirm, marry, memorialize, consecrate, and affirm what is holy and gracious in the lives of the members of Community United Church of Christ. Together, we’ve tackled social injustices and environmental concerns impacting the greater Fresno community. For years, and in a powerful ongoing way, Community UCC has boldly raised its extravagant banner of welcome and has embraced many that are often excluded and marginalized in society.

After much heartfelt and prayerful discernment, I am resigning from my call of ministry to Community UCC, to accept a call to pastor Los Altos, Foothills Congregational Church.  This has been a mixed time of gratitude and sorrow for me as I’ve evaluated and considered this significant change in both the life of my family and treasured congregation at Community.

I will always be grateful for the kind members and most excellent staff at Community UCC that have nurtured my family with indelible compassion and tender mercies.

I want to ask once more for your blessing of God’s call on my life in ministry. Also, please forgive my mistakes and any moments of uneasiness that arose during my tenure here — know that my heart and soul longed only for a wider experience of God’s grace.  I know that at times, the boldness and provocation of my preaching and presence sometimes pushed too hard and without the necessary patience that mercy and love teaches us.  Your blessing and forgiveness is a divine gift and transforming grace in my life.

My trust and hope is that faithful members will continue on with both presence in and support of the ongoing ministries of Community UCC.  It is my intention, after consultation with church leadership, to conclude my ministry on Easter Sunday.

My resignation as pastor at Community, UCC, will start a careful process of the church in its prayerful search for its next interim steps and eventually the call of a new settled pastor. Having a long-standing relationship with the greater United Church of Christ family, I know that the NCNC conference and more than capable lay leadership of Community will guide and lead the church through this journey.

As an UCC clergy, I am committed to the UCC Code of Ministerial Conduct, starting after my last Sunday at Community, to respect boundaries in the life of this congregation. That means that I will not be present or participate in any of the ministries of this church and would only ever do so by invitation of the Interim or Called Senior Pastor. I will not perform baptisms, weddings or funerals, or participate in the worship or ministry life of the church. This is the healthiest way for me to love and honor you, even as I depart.

In this moment of transition, I am comforted by the words of Paul to the church at Philippi:

“I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing the Gospel from the first day until now. I am confident that the One who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1. 3-6).

I love you Community UCC, your lives and families, your hopes and dreams, our ups and downs, in all moments — God is faithful.  In the hymn “In the Bulb There Is a Flower” there is a powerful line that resonates this mystery: “In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity.”

Grace and Peace,

Christopher Breedlove

Office hours during Marilyn’s vacation July 31-Aug. 11

Vacation Office Hours
“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” ~ Seneca
Marilyn Wall, the administrative assistant for our church office, will be taking some well-deserved time off starting at noon on Friday, July 28, through Friday, Aug. 11. Please observe the office hours below.
Church Office Hours
 July 31-Aug. 11:
9 a.m. to noon Mondays-Thursdays; Office Closed Fridays