A Look at the Area Conference Missioner Search Process

A Look at the Area Conference Missioner Search Process

The following was written by Bridge Conference Ministers the Rev. Don Remick and The Rev. Marilyn Kendrix

We have been working steadily to develop the staffing for our new Southern New England Conference.  In this process, we redesigned every staffing position to align with the Vision and aspiration given to us by God for our new Conference.  That Vision has been the foundation and compelling energy that has guided us through this whole process.
The ACM search has been the most difficult part of our whole staffing transition.

The entire staffing structure was developed with various points of input from local churches, regions, current staff and consultants.  It was initially presented at the Annual Meeting in the fall of 2018. 

It was revised when we could finally close the financial accounting of 2019 and could reasonably predict the staff compensation budget for 2020 and 2021.

It was revised again early this past summer as we assessed the fiscal impact of the Covid 19 pandemic on our Conference and churches.

The pandemic caused us to delay the beginning of staff transition because we couldn’t ask people to join search teams, we didn’t know whether clergy would be willing to search during the pandemic, and our staff needed to focus its time, energy and resources on helping our churches and clergy adapt to the pandemic world. 

Transitioning into our new staffing structure began late summer.  It has encompassed, these past couple months, over 60 interviews to fill all of the positions to date. You can see updates on what positions have been filled here.

There were 3 criteria that were the foundation for all of those interviews; in order:
  1. What staff skills, experience, knowledge, freshness and competence will enable our Conference to embody and evolve into God’s vision and this new way of being a Conference?
  2. How do we genuinely expand the staff diversity that reflects our region and our aspirations?
  3. How do we honor and bring forward the strength, training, experience and stability that are in so many of our historic Conferences’ staff?
The Boards of Directors of SNEUCC and of the historic Conferences gathered names of folks from all over our Conference who were trusted and respected by their peers, knew the heart of our historic Conferences, reflected the diversity we need and had a heart for the vision and aspiration of what our new Conference could be.  Several search teams were developed from that list of names. 

And, the ACM search has been the most difficult part of our whole staffing transition. 

The search team (see the members here) was carefully chosen. They included folks who came from all three historic Conferences and knew those Conferences well. They were folks that embodied a variety of diversities. They were folks who understood the past as well as they imagined the future. They were folks who were grounded in the SNEUCC discerned Vision and grounded in this era of profound change and, most of all, in the presence of Christ’s Holy Spirit. 

Our new Executive for Missional Implementation, the Rev. Dr Audrey Price, joined the team.  Audrey’s insight and wisdom were important as she would be the one to work with, minister with, shape and guide the team into God’s future. 

We admire this group.  We trust this group.  We respect the insight, wisdom and spirit within this group.

They received training from the now Rev. Dr,  Donique McIntosh on racial bias in search processes.

They received training from Lee Albertson of our national UCC staff who supports conference staff searches all over the country. 

They studied the shifting role for regional staff in the job descriptions and reflected in the vision as well as the historical approaches.

They prayed and were prayed for. And prayed some more.

Based on all of this, they developed a lens, a rubric, through which they could read profiles and encounter candidates in interviews.

They received 18 profiles from interested candidates.  These included current staff, local pastors of our Conference, and clergy from around the UCC. 

They were presented with some out of the box thinking on ways to configure the positions. 

They narrowed the pool down to 10 candidates for 6 positions. 

They interviewed the internal candidates first and advanced each of them into the ongoing process.

They interviewed the external candidates. 

And, as all search teams do, they talked.  They wrestled, they listened, they fine-tuned themselves to each other, to the heart of God’s vision and to the heart of God.  They considered what churches want and what churches need.  And they came to holy consensus. 
We admire this group.  We trust this group.  We respect the insight, wisdom and spirit within this group.
That doesn’t mean this is not painful. 

We have had to release people who are and have been among our trusted colleagues for years.

They have been our teachers, mentors, advisors. 

We have played and worked and dreamed and laughed and cried together. 

We know they are beloved and gifted and wise and powerfully present to so many of you. 

It hurts to say goodbye and to feel the uncertainty of yet another disruption in our lives. 
AND: We admire our search team group.  We trust our group.  We respect and recognize the insight, wisdom and spirit within our group.  WE came to Holy Consensus.  God was in the choosing.
God is good All the Time.  All the Time, God is good. 
Our Conference has an extraordinary team of ACMs to journey with our clergy, lay leaders and ministries into the future God has given us with our Vision.  The blend of gifts, experiences, wisdom and spirit of this team positions us well as we move from dream into bold and faithful enactment of our dream. 
We trust and envy the team that Rev. Dr Audrey Price will so skillfully lead with the Holy Spirit into God’s future. 
We are and will be in amazingly good hands. 
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