by Rev. Dale Azevedo, Sr. Minister          –          January 9, 2020

When will we learn more about our pastoral changes?

I’m glad you asked! If you read below you will learn all you can right now.

As all of you hopefully know, Brendan has accepted a call to Forest Grove United Church of Christ in Forest Grove, OR. His last day in worship with us will be January 26th. He will then be taking some well needed weeks of vacation in order to get married, pack up the house, move across the country, and get settled in his new home before beginning there at the start of March. We have been blessed to have Brendan’s leadership and Spirit with us for five and a half years and wish him all the best! However, we have not been waiting idly by since Brendan announced his leaving and many people are rightfully beginning to ask what is going to happen when Brendan leaves. I am excited to share with you where things stand at this time.

What have you been doing?

Following Brendan’s announcement, Church Council met and discussed where we should go and how we should proceed. It was agreed that we would seek to hire a Designated Term Associate Pastor to fill in for the loss of Brendan. A designated term pastor is a pastor that is hired for a set period of time, like a contracted employee, to serve in a specific capacity. They are very similar to an interim pastor with 2 significant differences. An interim pastor is often trained to provide intentional interim work which is designed to lead the congregation through a period of self-reflection and evaluation. They are, in some ways, hired to “shake things up” in order to prepare the congregation for a new settled pastor. Additionally, because intent for the interim to “shake things up”, they are disqualified from applying to the settled position and must leave following their interim period. Designated term pastors are not called to “shake things up” nor are they forbidden from applying for the settled position once it opens up. Having recently gone through an interim experience and just completed our “renewal process” we chose to seek a designated term associate rather than an interim.

What will the designated term associate’s role be?

Church Council, along with finance, agreed that we could fund a designated term position provided it fit within our current financial structure. We estimated that this term would likely be 9-12 months which will provide us ample time to prepare for our new settled associate pastor. During those 9-12 months the designated term pastor will perform many of the ministries that Brendan oversaw. Of primary importance will be a focus on confirmation and youth ministry. We have a wonderful confirmation class this year and want to maintain their momentum. We will be sure that our designated term associate will continue this program. We will also be looking to enhance our youth fellowship program. We do not know what this means or what it will look like, but we would like our designated term associate to continue enhancing all of our youth offerings. In addition, to these two tasks, the designated term associate will support Andrea with church school and Dale with many of our other pastoral responsibilities (including but not limited to visitation, adult education, worship, and supporting our many teams). At this point we are looking at a full 11-12 month designated term.

Where does the search stand?

It has been my hope from the start that we would have a designated term associate in place by the time Brendan leaves. This is a very aggressive time schedule, but we are moving forward with that hope in mind. In the past, when a vacancy has occurred, we have not created a full blown search committee to find temporary leadership. Instead the deacons (if possible in conjunction with Sr. Minister) have created a small team to enact the hiring. That is what we have done again. Three deacons, Jane Tonn, Amy Barkat, and Steve Fodor, are working along with me as the hiring team. Last December we reached out to representatives from RI, MA, and CT, to begin gathering profiles of prospective candidates for the designated term position. We have now narrowed the list of candidates down to two and will be interviewing them next week. One of those candidates would likely be able to begin by the first of March, as hoped. The other candidate would need some time before being able to step in. The amount of that time would need to be negotiated. If there is a delay in the designated term call taking over, we will carry on with as little loss of continuity as possible and keep everyone informed.

What else will be happening during these 12 months?

Once the position is filled, will have up to 12 months (or more if needed) to prepare for a new settled associate. The first thing I would like us to do during that time is to evaluate what it is we really need and want in an Associate Pastor. What should this position look like that will help to lead us into an uncharted future? The associate pastor position has changed a lot through the years at BCCUCC and we need to consider what will fit us best going forward? The Church Council will be discussing how to handle that evaluation at its next meeting. Likely, we will desire input from a variety of sources from within and without the congregation. Once we have settled on a vision for the future associate position, we will form a search committee. The search committee will follow the typical UCC protocol and eventually carry out a full nationwide search for our new settled associate. This process could potentially be completed in less time, but if we have a quality designated term associate there is no need to rush the process. Our ministries will remain strong!

What can I do to help the process along?

Well, number one is Pray! Prayer is always good as we need (and want) God’s leadership in this process. I formally give you permission to pray every day if you want! Another way you can help to speak up and offer your thoughts when invited. There will likely be a number of opportunities to share your thoughts throughout this process. Please take advantage of those opportunities when they arise. It is always better to share your hopes before something happens than your complaints afterward. I also invite you to be gracious. Be gracious with the designated term when they arrive and throughout their time with us. Be gracious to the hiring team, the future search committee, and all your church leadership. They are doing the best they can to carry us through this process and lead us into a wonderful and faithful future. Finally, I encourage you to stay involved. Keep working in the ministries you are currently doing to ensure that they survive. Also be willing to say “yes” when asked to serve in new capacities. This may mean serving on the search committee or serving another team that seems to be falling through the cracks during this transition period. Remember, if you are passionate about a ministry, then there is no one better than you to carry it out!

What an exciting time to be a part of BCCUCC!