Updates from the Senior Minister Search Committee

Stay in the loop as we work to find the next Senior Minister of Old South Church in Boston with monthly updates from the Search Committee

 

January 2023

January 20, 2023

This month, the Old South Church Senior Minister Search Committee has started interviewing candidates in discernment about our Senior Minister position.  As you know, we spent the fall reviewing profiles and letters of interest and selected a small group of ministers that we felt might be a good fit for our congregation.  We are now in the middle of a 6-week process of meeting candidates in conversation.  These initial dialogues are hour-long virtual interviews during which we explore the candidate’s theology and approach to worship, their experience building community, their skills as a senior leader, and their commitment to faith-based social action.  We also give the candidate an opportunity to get to know our congregation a bit better by asking questions of committee members.  Following the interview, we invite candidates to send us additional material – links to sermons and correspondence they have crafted for congregations in response to difficult situations.

As a committee, we are excited about the pool of candidates we have chosen to invite for interviews.  Though we are a diverse committee with different perspectives, each of us is confident that we have identified several individuals who – with God’s help – have the potential to serve our community with extraordinary courage, creativity, and compassion as the next Senior Minister.

By the end of February, we anticipate that we will be ready to choose a smaller set of  candidates with whom we would like to engage more deeply.  We will be extending invitations to that smaller group to join us in Boston this spring for longer in-person meetings.  We are working together as a committee now to craft a collection of experiences for the in-person visits that will permit the kind of mutual discernment this process requires. We hope to be ready to introduce a final candidate to the congregation before summer!

Thank you, as always, for your trust and your ongoing prayers of support.

 

December 2022

December 15, 2022

The Old South Church Senior Minister Search Committee has had a productive month and we are right on schedule with our anticipated timeline for welcoming a new Senior Minister to our pulpit.  As you will recall, we convened as a committee in June and spent the summer planning.  We released our church profile and “posted” our job description with the UCC in late September.  For the last two months, we have been receiving and prayerfully reviewing “applications” from potential candidates.  We have selected a pool of candidates that we will be inviting for virtual initial interviews during a 4-6 week period starting in the second week of January.

Though we remain open to receiving additional expressions of interest from potential candidates at this stage, we are thrilled about the individuals we will be meeting in the coming weeks.  In keeping with our commitments to you and to one another, we have selected with God’s guidance a pool that is diverse in every way – gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, life experience, geographic home.  Though each is unique, the candidates we are inviting into this next phase of discernment are receiving invitations because the committee found in their applications a deep faith and commitment to leading vibrant worship, the capacity to grow and strengthen community, a readiness to provide executive leadership for our church and its staff, and a strong prophetic voice for faith-based social justice. 

In mid November, the committee met with a senior pastor of a local UCC church who graciously agreed to help us finalize our interview process and protocol.  Our volunteer pastor was wonderful and offered us insightful feedback on our draft interview guide.  We have incorporated her suggestions and feel very ready to start meeting candidates after Christmas!

As we enter into this third phase of our work together, the Committee continues to be grateful for the trust that you – as a congregation – have placed in us as we engage the awe-inspiring task of listening to one another and to the Holy Spirit in this process of discernment.  

Thank you, as always, for your ongoing prayers of support.

 

November 2022

November 9, 2022

Candidates from around the country are entering into discernment about our Senior Minister position. They learn about us through many routes – their own networks within the region and the wider church, an official posting of our church profile with the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ, direct outreach from a congregation member or friend of Old South, direct outreach from a member of the Senior Minister Search Committee, our website. The committee receives “applications” from potential candidates in the form of a cover letter and a ministerial profile. The profile is an extended resume with short answer questions about the candidate’s reflections on his or her call to ministry and letters from references. The committee meets every other week to review profiles in rolling fashion.  Listening to one another and seeking God’s guidance, we are making decisions and building a smaller pool of diverse candidates from which we will invite individuals to interview with the committee. As noted in previous updates, we don’t anticipate starting interviews until January, when the busy Advent and Christmas season is behind us.

We are grateful to a local UCC minister from a neighboring church who has volunteered to help us practice our interview skills in a mock interview scheduled for November 16.  We have crafted our interview questions carefully, but look forward to giving our proposed process a trial run to ensure that the questions work to help us get to know a candidate in the ways we hope they will.  After the practice interview, our volunteer ministerial candidate has agreed to debrief the experience with us and give us feedback to help us make the experience affirming and welcoming for candidates who enter more deeply into discernment with us.

As we enter now more fully into the work of reviewing potential candidates for our Senior Minister position, we are grateful for the diversity of our committee and the trust and respect we have established with one another. Though we are using a shared framework for evaluating candidates, we each read and resonate with the profiles from the vantage point of our own experiences. Sharing our perspectives honestly and listening openly to one another, we are engaged in the holy wisdom of congregational decision-making.

Thank you, as always, for your ongoing prayers of support.

October 2022

October 7, 2022

On pace with the schedule we set for ourselves, we released our church profile – to the congregation, to the conference, and to the wider world – in the last week of September. The profile – developed by the transition team in the spring with insight from congregants and church staff in over 30 small group listening tours, surveys, and individual interviews.  The profile describes us as we are – rooted in history and looking to the future, committed to social and climate justice in Boston and beyond, grounded in Scripture and transformative worship, connected in community but looking to deepen our bonds to one another, diverse with a wide open door and committed to widening our welcome.  

The church profile, along with a briefer job description and instructions for application, is accessible on a new landing page on our church website configured especially for potential candidates.

Within the first day of our profile’s release, we began receiving ministerial profiles from interested candidates. Even as we enthusiastically receive expressions of interest from candidates who – with God’s guidance – find their way to us, we are also making active outreach to others through a wide network of friends and colleagues and connections. If you have ideas about potential candidates you would like to suggest to the Search Committee, reach out to us at our dedicated e-mail address, search@oldsouth.org. Respecting the privacy of potential candidates and applicants is of critical and sacred importance; we will receive any suggested names in confidence and are committed to maintaining confidentiality for candidates throughout the process.  

The committee is reviewing applications as we receive them, using evaluation criteria developed from the church profile. As described in last month’s update, our plan is to solicit applications through the end of the calendar year and begin interviewing in January. We hope to be ready to bring a final candidate to the congregation for review and vote sometime next spring.

We remain grateful for your ongoing prayers of support.
 

  

September 2022

September 8, 2022

We continue to meet every other week as a committee and are focused now in earnest on getting everything ready to receive applications of ministerial candidates interested in our senior minister position!   We are on schedule to release our church profile – to the congregation, to the conference, and to the wider world – by the end of September.

Before we release the profile we will have:

  • Mapped our strategy for active outreach to potential candidates using a cultivated network comprised of friends and colleagues, Old South pastoral alumni, seminaries and community organizations, and affinity groups from within the UCC conference
  • Built a landing page for potential applicants on our church website with information about the position and instructions for application
  • Drafted templates for communicating with applicants so that we can be clear about our timeline and transparent about where we are in the process

After releasing the profile and launching our strategy for active outreach, we look forward to receiving applications.  Though we will review applications on a rolling basis, we want to ensure that we have recruited a diverse pool of candidates before we begin interviewing. We will communicate to potential applicants our intent to solicit applications through the end of November, though we won’t officially “close the door” on new candidates until we have found our new Senior Minister.  Out of respect for the Advent and Christmas season and the demands on ministers’ time during the month of December, we anticipate beginning our interviews in January.   

We have been thoughtful about the development of our criteria for evaluating applicants and feel confident that the framework we have developed represents the will of the congregation as it emerged from over thirty listening sessions with staff and members this spring. 

As a committee, we continue to ground our work in prayer and Scripture, listening attentively for God’s guidance as we craft the process and share perspectives with one another.  Please keep us and our work in your prayers.   

  

 

August 2022

August 14, 2022

We met in the last week of July with Alex Shea Will, the Area Conference Minister for the Northeast Region of the Southern New England Conference, who will be our partner throughout the journey of searching for and calling a new Senior Minister. He helped us understand his role and the role of the regional and national United Church of Christ in our process.  He shared with us his perspective on best practices for welcoming candidates and engaging in faithful discernment.

Following his counsel, we have begun the work of developing tools to use in evaluating potential candidates.  Drawing on the congregational profile prepared by the transition team, we are crafting a set of criteria that describe the key characteristics of the senior minister we are seeking.  We are writing interview questions that will allow us to invite potential candidates to tell us what we most want to know about them.  We have educated ourselves on different types of implicit bias and discussed strategies to ensure that we keep ourselves open to whomever God is calling to Old South and that we fling wide a door of radical welcome to candidates representing every type of diversity in human experience.  

This coming week, a subset of us will be meeting with the Old South Church staff, to hear their perspectives on the church profile that has been developed and to learn their priorities for a Senior Minister. As a search committee, we want to respect the unique insights of our existing ministerial team and are eager to work in partnership with them as the search process unfolds.     

We have met four times now as a committee and anticipate a few more meetings of preparatory work before we release the church profile and begin welcoming applications from candidates. With each meeting, we get to know each other better and grow to appreciate more deeply the wisdom that each of us brings to the discussion.  We begin and end our meetings with prayer and devote time in every meeting to close reading and reflection on a passage of Scripture; we are committed to listening for God’s voice throughout the process.  Please keep us and our work in your prayers.   

  

 

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