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