Dear First United community,
The purpose of this letter is to announce the selection of Deborah J. Kapp as our Interim Lead Pastor. She was the unanimous recommendation of the Interim Pastor Nominating Committee; her selection was endorsed by Church Council at a special meeting on August 29. Deborah’s first day in the Church office will be September 1, she will be introduced to the congregation during worship on Gathering Day, September 10.
Deborah received her BA from Brown University and her MDiv from Union Theological Seminary (New York). In addition, she earned both an MA and a PhD in sociology from Loyola University. She has served as Associate for Women’s Programs for PCUSA, as Associate Pastor with two congregations, as Pastor of one congregation, and also as a Guest Mentor Pastor. Deborah joined the faculty of McCormick Seminary in 1995. In 2006 she became the Edward F. and Phyllis K. Campbell Professor of Urban Ministry. She served twice as the Acting Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and retired from McCormick this past June.
Teaching for 22 years in the Doctor of Ministry program at McCormick was particularly satisfying for Deborah because it gave her “an opportunity to mentor accomplished pastors who are committed to the church, hungry for knowledge and skills that can enhance their work, and [ready for] new possibilities.” Another key focus of her teaching at McCormick was organizational change and how to make it happen. Her research interests included congregational life and the work of ministry. Deborah completed the first part of interim ministry training in 2015. The second part of interim ministry training requires that the trainee is employed as an interim, so Deborah plans to complete that training in early 2018.
Deborah is married to Anthony Ruger. They have two adult sons, Geoffrey and Peter, both of whom attended First United Church Nursery School, and two cats. Deborah and Tony live in Northeast Oak Park, in a house they purchased from Claudette and Herb Zobel. Deborah already has relationships with several First United congregation members through the Presbytery, through the Oak Park community, and from her leadership of the Women’s Retreat this past winter.
The Interim Pastor Nominating Committee (IPNC) was charged with "hiring an interim Lead Pastor by October 1 at the latest" and has met regularly since July 10. Both the Chicago Presbytery and the Chicago Metropolitan Association supported our search with candidates who had been thoughtfully pre-screened. In addition to the candidates received through the denominations, we received suggestions from congregation and staff members. The IPNC was impressed with the candidates’ skills and experiences, and is deeply grateful for the ways each of the candidates contributes to the church around the world. The IPNC consists of Adam Alonso, Vickie Engelhardt, Bobbie Kmiec, Art Spooner, and Caitlin Zinsser.
Blessings to all as we begin the next part of our congregational journey,
Chair, Interim Pastor Nominating Committee