Good People of FCUCC:
I was blessed to be invited to preach at FCUCC during Lent of 2019. I celebrated Easter with you, and then came on board as the part-time Interim Pastor that summer. This Sunday will be my final Sunday as your Interim Pastor (my Interim contract ends on August 15th).
Looking back at where we’ve been and what we’ve learned:
I began our time together by meeting with as many congregation members as possible to learn the history of the church. Knowing this history has been very instructive in understanding where we are now.
It became very clear that, historically, FCUCC has become vulnerable to internal conflicts whenever our Congregational polity (rules and processes) is not followed. This is FCUCC “Achilles’ Heel.” Discovering that gave us a path forward during the interim time.
The Council is the governing body of a UCC congregation. The committees serve the Council by: 1) helping the committee members get to know and care for each other, 2) providing a healthy flow of information from the congregation to the Council and back, and 3) covering all 8 leadership areas for the congregation. This ensures that, no matter which one leadership skill the pastor has, the congregation will continue to move forward.
For 2020, committees were reconstituted. In order to strengthen the Council, the Nominations Committee designed the current committees in such a way that almost every congregation member is serving on a committee, and most are only on one committee. Attention was paid to Worship, and to Nurture and congregational care. New Education opportunities were developed, and at least 3 of those have continued online through Zoom during this Public Health Emergency. The Personnel Committee addressed staffing and hired a new office administrator, Tiffany Watts, who has been working through the summer to prepare for Pastor Mike.
In the meantime, we had a church retreat to learn which leadership skill we each have. It was a joy to discover the breadth and depth of FCUCC’s current leadership. In addition to deep faith, this is one of FCUCC’s strongest assets! We also developed several surveys to gather information about FCUCC so the Search Committee could accurately describe our congregation in our Church Profile as the search for a new pastor began.
Now that Pastor Mike has been called to serve FCUCC, several things are clear from what we have learned together over the last 18 months:
First, FCUCC is a group of people whose greatest strengths are profound faith and a firm commitment to serving each other and the community. Always remember this about each other!
Second, it is more important than ever during this time of change to follow the wisdom and the direction of your elected Council. This is a major gift of Congregational polity (our rules and processes). That will keep communication clear. In addition, this will allow Pastor Mike to have the leadership support he needs from the Council. I do believe that, by following Congregational polity and staying on track, Pastor Mike and FCUCC will succeed in living into the future God has in mind.
Lastly, during a pastoral transition, the final role of the interim pastor is to make sure the needs of the congregation and the incoming pastor are given priority. To provide a space for the congregation and the new pastor to bond well, the relationship with the interim pastor changes. [See UCC Guidelines (“A Sure Foundation”) and the UCC Ministerial Code] What that means is, going forward, I will not be performing any pastoral services, including pastoral care, for anyone connected with FCUCC, unless I am invited to do so by Pastor Mike. It also means that I will not be “friending” congregation members by any form of social media, either, for the next 1-3 years.
It has been a blessing to get to know you and journey with you during this time. You are an amazing, gifted, lively, and loving group of people. Thank you so much for asking me to serve you.