It seems surreal that after 17 months of reviewing, interviewing, listening, and debating we have reached the end of our work together as the Pastor Nominating Committee… and the beginning of the next era at West Side. Our journey as a group of nine officially began on May 14, 2017 when the congregation chose to accept the Nominating Committee’s slate of candidates. We rolled up our sleeves and – alongside Interim Pastor Shari Monson as well as many of you – got to work immediately with the Mission Study. The Mission Study was finalized September 22, 2017; while we awaited the final product, we met infrequently to discuss process, establish tracking and communication procedures, and draft and sign a covenant agreement – one that we are proud to say we fulfilled throughout the entire search.
Armed with the takeaways and recommendations that came out of the Mission Study project, our committee began to meet on a weekly basis. Our first order of business was to complete and publish the Ministry Information Form (MIF), which was essentially West Side’s “resume” for candidates to review prior to applying. Our committee thoughtfully put together responses to the narrative questions, selected the top ten competencies that candidates should have, and filled out the more standard information such as amount and type of education and experience desired. We finalized the MIF and published it on October 28, 2017 and within two weeks we were reviewing candidate Personal Information Forms (PIFs), which are the equivalent of a resume in the PCUSA.
Here’s a quick recap of how we would review each individual candidate:
- Upon intake, each PIF was reviewed separately by each member of the PNC.
- PNC members submitted ratings on a scale of 1-3, with “1” being for candidates that the member felt was a strong candidate, “2” being for candidates that the member felt could potentially be a strong candidate, and “3” for candidates that the member felt were not suited for our position.
- At the next PNC meeting, ratings for candidate PIFs received the prior week were discussed.
- Action on each candidate as appropriate (i.e. dismiss or move forward with).
- For those candidates that we moved forward, we typically sent them a series of follow-up questions for review.
- After another round of rating, it’s at this point that (if the majority of the committee felt that the candidate should continue to be considered) we would have an informal conversation with the candidate either via Skype or in person.
All told, we reviewed 79 PIFs. We received the lion share of these prior to June 12, 2018… but not the one that mattered the most! We received the Reverend Dr. Laurie Brenner’s PIF on June 12 and had a series of rich, excellent conversations over the subsequent 10 weeks. Laurie blew us away with her deep love and knowledge of Scripture, her appreciation of West Side’s unique context as a church embedded in our community, her gifts of leadership and vision, and her infectious personality.
Consequently, we extended an invitation to host her for a candidate weekend. This took place the weekend of August 31-September 2 and involved a tour of West Seattle, a tour of WSPC itself, a formal interview, a casual dinner that included PNC members’ spouses, and finally a “neutral pulpit” sermon. (Incidentally, Laurie preached at Lake City Presbyterian Church, where our very own Jesse Mabangalo is currently serving as Interim Head of Staff).
After taking a full week to individually process the weekend, we met as a group on September 10 and, after a short discussion, unanimously voted to extend the call to Laurie. About a week later on September 16, Laurie (and her husband David) officially accepted the call; “David and I would love to be at West Side!” were her exact words. The terms of call were finalized on September 28 and the rest, as they say, is history! In collaboration with select staff, we distributed an introductory brochure on October 7, Laurie preached at West Side on October 14, and the congregation voted 182 – 15 to call Laurie as our next Head of Staff.
And so we are done. Yet at the same time, we are just getting started. Can I get an “Amen”?!
—Josh Kutz, PNC Member
May 14 – PNC elected
July 16 – First official PNC meeting
September 22 – Mission study finalized
October 28 – MIF posted
November 12 – First PIFs reviewed
June 12 – Received Laurie’s PIF
August 31-September 2 – Laurie’s candidate weekend
September 10 – PNC unanimously decided on Laurie
September 16 – Laurie officially accepts call
September 28 – Terms of call finalized
October 7 – Laurie’s information provided to congregation
October 14 – Laurie’s candidating sermon and congregation vote in favor of calling her
Note: Associate Executive Presbyter Eliana Maxim provided the PNC with valuable administrative guidance throughout the process as our official liaison to the Seattle Presbytery.