Pastor Nominating Committee Updates
November 1, 2018
An End to a Beginning
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
Note: Associate Executive Presbyter Eliana Maxim provided the PNC with valuable administrative guidance throughout the process as our official liaison to the Seattle Presbytery.
July 29, 2018
The Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) has identified our final two candidates for West Side’s senior pastor/head of staff position. Candidate weekends (different weekend for each) have been scheduled and will take place over the next month. Each of the candidates is different in style and personality. Additionally, both serve at Fellowship Community churches which means they are in agreement with the essential tenants and core values to which we hold.
A candidate weekend covers a Friday – Sunday timeframe. They will have time to tour West Seattle on their own as well as spending time with the PNC and tour the church facilities. On Sunday they will preach in a neutral pulpit (not their home church and not West Side) which the PNC will attend. The PNC has already heard multiple sermons by each, so the neutral pulpit will not be the only sermon example we will have experienced. The candidate will also meet with the Seattle Presbytery Committee on Ministry (COM).
Once both weekends have been completed, the PNC will meet to identify and notify the top candidate. The PNC then negotiates the terms of call (salary, vacation, study leave, etc.) with the candidate and once finalized, the information is forwarded to the COM to assure the terms meet minimum requirements.
Once the terms of call have been approved, the PNC notifies and meets with session. The purpose is to let session know that the PNC has identified our final candidate, approval of the terms of call and calling a congregation meeting for a future Sunday. On the Sunday of the congregational meeting, the candidate will preach. Immediately following the service, the candidate leaves and we hold our meeting for the purpose of determining whether West Side will call the person to serve as our senior pastor/head of staff. We’ll cover more of the mechanics of the process as we get closer.
As always, if you have any questions, ask a PNC member.
April 15, 2018
Communicated at the Congregational Update meeting
William Vanderbloem, longtime Presbyterian pastor and founder of the pastor search firm that bears his name, suggests that finding a pastor is as serious as an organ transplant. I haven’t had any organ transplants but it is a serious matter and I like that analogy.
Think about that.
Our church body is missing a vital organ and the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) is searching the donor base for the perfect match. A match to our vision, a match to our theology, a match to our culture and most important, a match to our heart! The heart is a vital organ, this is a vital search.
Based on my experience with the mission study and the PNC over the last year I have become more convinced that the key part of this process is prayer; it is comforting for me and my PNC colleagues to know that you are all praying for this process and our next pastor. We ask that you continue to pray, pray expectantly, pray intentionally.
We have been telling you that the typical pastor search should last between 18 and 24 months and that is per the church leadership connection (CLC) and the office of the General Assembly. Pastor Vanderbloem advises that 12 to 24 months is more likely – maybe if we all buy his books, we can save six months!
The West Side PNC is following the process as defined by the CLC and the office of the General Assembly. Our PNC has really only been engaged in the search process for a few months; the Ministry Information Form (MIF, our story) was approved by Session sometime in October, and the MIF (job opening) was formally posted on the CLC in early November – just four or five months ago. Our first responses began to trickle in during late November.
You should be proud of the PNC. I am humbled to be part of this group – every member is diligent in their study and review of the Pastor Information Forms (PIFs), our group discussions are candid, thoughtful, insightful… we have found that as a group we enjoy working together, and I believe we work well.
It is important to note that while each of us on the PNC are free to rate, review and express our opinion on each candidate we are obliged to measure that candidate against benchmarks established in the mission study. In essence, the mission study established our vision and our needs, the PNC is obliged to find a Pastor that can fill our needs and embrace our vision – not John’s vision, or Katie’s vision or Elaine’s vision, but the West Side Presbyterian vision.
“Christ calls the Church into being, giving it all that is necessary for its mission in the world in both Spirit and Word. Christ alone rules, calls, teaches, and uses the Church as he wills.”
(Book of Order, F-1.0202)
I would love to tell you that we have a timetable and a deadline to find a new pastor, but as I have written and as my PNC colleagues will remind us all, this is not our timetable. Remember… Christ alone rules, calls, teaches, and uses the Church as he wills. With that in mind, if we were to put a schedule on what we are thinking……
After advice from Presbytery, we are thinking that we are in a position to narrow our current eligible candidates to a short list over the next month or so and possibly narrow the list down to two or three finalists by early summer. This leads to a potential goal of presenting a candidate for call to Session by the end of summer, which would mean a new pastor could potentially be in place before the fall school year begins; emphasize potentially. Based on what we see and know at this point, we do not see the process extending into 2019.
Please continue to pray; pray for the patience of Job, the wisdom of Solomon, pray expectantly, pray intentionally.
For the PNC,
~ John Jacobs
February 15, 2018
From the February issue of The Good News newsletter
Are we there yet . . . . . . . . . ?
You know how it goes, load the car for the four-hour trip to grandma’s house, get in and drive off. Then, right about the time you reach Fife, somebody in the back seat asks “are we there yet”? You then proceed to explain that everybody knows it’s a four-hour trip and we have only been driving for 30 minutes!
In our early training, the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) learned that without outside help, it takes the church an average of 18 to 24 months to find a Pastor; let’s pray that we can be a little better than average.
The PNC was officially commissioned back in July, our first official meetings were in June and were followed by some training sessions in July. Our first official task was to complete our Ministry Information Form (MIF) once we received the completed Mission Study.
The West Side Session affirmed and adopted the Mission Study in September; the PNC presented the MIF to Session in October. Recall that the MIF provides a narrative picture of the mission and ministry of West Side and our sense of call. Additionally, the MIF describes our demographics, history, theology, values, leadership needs and expectations. Prospective pastors will use the MIF to help discern whether God is calling them to serve our church.
Our MIF was posted to the Church Leadership Connection (CLC) approximately three months ago in late October; so, in relation to our trip to grandma’s, we haven’t reached Fife yet!
Remember the PIF – the Personal Information Form submitted by interested candidates. The PNC receives PIFs from two primary sources. One is the CLC matches seeking candidates with posted open positions via an automated process. The second most common PIF submission is from pastors who review the CLC website, see our open position and submit their PIF directly to West Side’s PNC. The latter is a more confidential process that protects currently employed pastors who might not want their current congregation or others to know that they’re looking. Our PNC was advised to expect a slowdown in PIF submission in December and January for obvious reasons; we (PNC) concur that the last six weeks has been slow for new submissions.
During this time, the PNC continues to diligently review each and every PIF; initial screening and review looks for the experience, education and theological alignment as required by West Side. Once a prospective candidate is considered qualified, the PNC digs a little deeper and reads a statement of faith or seeks out a recorded sermon or blog. The nine PNC members review and score each candidate independently; the top scoring candidates are then discussed in group sessions to determine if they are West Side worthy and eligible to advance to the next stage. The next stages will include more questions, interaction and interviews and eventually some visits.
This is God’s process, a process on his timetable, a process with purpose; our purpose is to seek the one whom God is already raising up to be our pastor. No, we are not there yet, but we are going to get there; continue to pray for discernment, guidance, unity, patience and the incoming pastor and family.
For the PNC,
January 7, 2018
From the January issue of The Good News newsletter
If there was a single theme to 2017 for West Side Presbyterian Church we might consider it to be “busy”; in all the hustle and bustle of shaping the Mission Study and forming the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) it can be easy to forget that all involved are only tools in God’s process of bringing a new pastor to His church. In past updates we have discussed the process of our search and while the process is important, don’t forget that the purpose of the process is to seek the one whom God is already raising up to be our pastor. The importance of prayer during this process is difficult to overstate; the key element of God’s process is prayer and the responsibility of the entire West Side family.
The PNC continues to receive Personal Information Forms (PIF) from various candidates expressing an interest in West Side. Many of the early PIFs have come through the automated system set up by PCUSA while others come through as a self-referral; self-referrals come from individuals who sense a call to our congregation after reviewing our Ministry Information Form (MIF). Each PIF is prayerfully considered and thoroughly evaluated for compatible theology, values, ministry goals and appropriate experience. While we have received dozens of PIFs, only a handful have met the initial screening criteria and are eligible for the next level of review. The next level could include reaching out to a candidate with questions or visiting his/her current church website to listen to a sermon or two.
There is a natural slowdown in the process during the Christmas season and while your PNC continues to research and review we do expect more PIFs in the new year and plan additional updates to the congregation in January.
The PNC wishes you all a full and joyous New Year and ask that you keep the PNC in thought and prayer during the months ahead. Some points of intention for prayer can include discernment, guidance, unity, patience and the incoming pastor and family.
For the PNC,
November 1, 2017
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) ~ Ask, Seek, Knock
(from the November issue of The Good News newsletter)
We (the PNC) are regularly reminded that our pastor search is a process, not an event; a process of discernment to discover who God is calling to be the next pastor for West Side Presbyterian Church. The pre-search phase is fundamental to an effective search process; the pre-search phase included our church-wide survey, the Mission Study, naming of the PNC and preparation of the Ministry Information Form (MIF). Recall that our MIF provides a narrative picture of the mission and ministry of West Side, our sense of call, our demographics, history, theology, values, leadership needs and expectations.
The MIF is complete, it was approved by Session and passed onto Presbytery in mid-October; Presbytery’s Committee on Ministry (COM) followed with their approval soon after and our approved MIF was entered on-line with the Church Leadership Connection (CLC). The CLC is an important tool in the overall call process; it is a web-based system in compliance with the Book of Order that provides global access and visibility to all potential candidates to see our job opening and the MIF.
The next phase of the search process will likely begin in the coming weeks when, via the CLC system, potential candidates will begin to submit a Personal Information Form (PIF), or resume, for review by the PNC. The PNC is called and committed to prayerfully consider and thoroughly evaluate each PIF; every member of the PNC will have access to every PIF received.
Remember the congregation’s commitment to keep the PNC in thought and prayer during this process in the months ahead; pray with us for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, discernment and unity.
For the PNC,
July 27, 2017
Presented by John Jacobs, Sunday morning, July 23, 2017
I am here this morning on behalf of my pastor nominating committee (PNC) colleagues to give you an update on our progress in the call process.
Understanding the process and the entire sequence of events is, as I am learning, somewhat important.
The call process begins when the tenured pastor (Paul) makes the call to Presbytery, or more specifically the COM (Presbyterians love acronyms) or Commissions on Ministry, to share news of his planned retirement.
The process continues with the appointment of our interim pastor and then rolls into a very important piece of the process, our Mission Study.
The Mission Study started with the Listening Circles earlier this year, followed by the Holy Cow survey and then the series of meetings of the Mission Study group, which many of you were part of.
The Mission Study final product is close to being complete; I believe the writers will presented to session in the coming week.
The Mission Study is our story; the Mission Study is our assessment of who we are, who is God calling us to be and where is God calling us to go.
Once the Mission Study is adopted or approved by session, this becomes the data or the document that the PNC uses to prepare, another acronym, the MIF – Ministry Information Form – the MIF provides a narrative picture of the mission and the ministry is described by you, the congregation.
This form ultimately becomes the job posting within the Presbyterian system where searching candidates can come, read and see what were all about and make the decision if they would like to apply.
An interested candidate will ultimately submit a PIF – Personal Information Form. For those involved in past pastor searches you may have heard of this called a dossier or simply a resume, but for us will go with PIF.
Now, in this process we have a little ways to go, the PNC will likely start to see some of these dossiers sometime in September or October, it is then we will start to be a little more active reviewing candidates and such. So, the next time you hear from us probably be in the fall when we have something more to report.
Last week, when commissioned, you, the congregation, committed to keep the PNC in your thoughts and prayers in the months ahead and pray with us for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Thank you for that.