April 20, 2017
Dear Members of First Church of Christ, Longmeadow,
Last June our church charged the Senior Pastor Search Team with the responsibility of prayerfully selecting a candidate for your approval. We gathered input from many different sources as we developed our new Local Church Profile. We carefully read and reviewed ministerial profiles from thirty-six qualified candidates. We selected the most qualified of these candidates and conducted initial interviews which led to three final candidates being invited for a second interview. Our team unanimously agreed, through prayer and mutual consent, on the one candidate we all felt would be the most gifted pastor to lead our congregation into the future.
We are very excited to introduce our chosen candidate to the congregation and have designated the weekend of April 29thand 30th as “Candidating Weekend.” Several events are planned to allow members and friends to meet the candidate. Here is our schedule:
Saturday, April 29: You are invited to a casual coffee reception from 10am to 12noon in Bailey Hall and/or an ice cream social from 2pm to 4pm, also in Bailey Hall.
Sunday, April 30: Our candidate will be preaching at 10am worship. Following the service, a congregational meeting will be held to hear a detailed report from the Search Team, discuss the terms of the Call Agreement, and for members to vote on the recommendation to call the candidate as our new Senior Pastor. This will be followed by a reception in Bailey Hall.
Because the candidate cannot notify his/her current church until our vote, we are keeping the candidate’s name confidential. We can, however, share some of the biographical information with you.
The candidate holds a Master of Divinity from Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and was originally ordained in the Disciples of Christ. Our candidate is presently the full-time Senior Pastor of a U.C.C. church, serving that congregation for eight years. The candidate has a total of eleven years’ experience as a Senior Pastor and three years as an Associate Pastor.
Our candidate came to ministry as a second career after working full time for ten years as a speaker and organizational consultant. Our candidate is passionate about preaching, working with volunteers, helping churches thrive as organizations, conducting deeply meaningful funeral services, using storytelling, and building the Beloved Community. As one of our candidate’s references stated: “Any congregation would be blessed beyond measure to have (the candidate) serve as their pastor.”
The Search Team is very happy and excited to have our congregation meet our first choice candidate during the upcoming Candidating Weekend. We believe that God has led us to this exciting moment in our ministry and our church’s history and so does our candidate. We look forward to growing together as a faith community, serving others and proclaiming the good news of God’s love.
Thank you for the privilege and trust you have given us.
The Search Team: Laura Bird Smith, Wanona Dobbs, Mary Friedman, Steve Gelling, Alan Kulig, Sue Monks, John Ouellette, Shannon Plankey, the Reverend Ute Schmidt.