Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Wacky Transition Stories #2

Sometimes the way a pastoral search unfolds is truly bizarre—for the candidate, for the search committee, for the congregation, or all of the above!

In this series, we're sharing stories of some of the more bizarre events we've heard—and, in some cases, experienced. (We've changed the names and locations to shield those involved from embarrassment or awkwardness.) There's no telling how you'll find these; some may say, "I can't believe that actually happened;" others will find commiseration and sympathy in the similar experiences revealed. Everyone could think of these as more in the category of "what NOT to do!"

So, here's Wacky Story #2, which came to us from a member of the search committee in this account...

The search committee for Covenant Church had been very efficient in their work, and within about four months had identified a strong candidate, who we'll call Fred, who they were prepared to present to the congregation. They invited him (and his wife) for a visit, and Fred spent about four days with the committee, the session, the diaconate, and the congregation. He got to know the church very well, and indicated to everyone his willingness to come serve them as pastor.

A week after his visit, the congregation held a meeting and voted with a very strong majority to extend Fred the call as their next senior pastor. The search committee chair communicated this to Fred, and they began to discuss his terms of call and the other logistics related to his call as their pastor. Once all of these were essentially settled (within about another week), Fred again indicated his interest but also stated that he wanted to pray about it with his wife, and seek the counsel of some others.

A week went by. Then another. A member of the search committee e-mailed Fred, who responded vaguely that he was still praying about it. Another couple of weeks passed.

Finally, the presbytery meeting where Fred's call as Covenant Church's new senior pastor would be approved was approaching. The search committee chair called Fred, who still maintained that he was prayerfully considering it. Fred told him that he would let them know what his decision was at the presbytery meeting.

The day of the presbytery meeting arrived, and Fred didn't even show up! The search committee chair called Fred from the presbytery meeting, and Fred said bluntly that he wasn't taking the call.

Needless to say, by this point the members of the search committee—and many of the members of the congregation—were having their own doubts about whether Fred was the right guy for them, as well. There was a certain amount of relief in the final conclusion of it, but it also led to doubts and some second-guessing for the next candidate (who did take the call).

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Do you have a crazy story of something that happened to you during the pastoral transition process? If so, we'd love to hear it! E-mail us at: transitions@doulosresources.org.

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