November 2020

This communication is the first of many and is to inform the congregation of the role of the Transition Team, and to communicate the status of our search for new pastoral leadership.  We recognize that the congregation is experiencing a wide range of feelings with the unexpected early retirement of our pastors, but now we must move forward. This time of transition is a powerful time for Christian spiritual discernment where God guides the individual and the group to help them arrive at the best decision.

Purpose

The purpose of the Transition Team is to:

  • lead our congregation in a period of discernment to determine what we need and want from our new pastoral leadership,
  • create a Ministry Site Profile (MSP) to the New England Synod which will be used in determining appropriate candidates for our pastoral call,
  • work with our new pastoral leadership and congregation to support them in the first few months of their tenure to ensure a smooth transition for all,
  • keep the congregation informed throughout this transition process.

The Process

The first phase of the process is the Transition Phase.  It is the period of discernment where we as a congregation come together, led by the Transition Team, to understand our history and to identify our future needs.  To accomplish this over the next several months, the Transition Team will be using several methods (conference phone calls, video conference meetings, email & mail questionnaires) to host a history event as well as small online ‘cottage’ meetings.  Unfortunately, groups in person are not possible at this time. During these meetings members of the Transition Team will ask questions about your memories and experiences of our church as well as questions about your hopes and dreams for the future.

The information gathered during these meetings, together with the Church Assessment Tool (CAT Survey) we participated in during the Spring of 2019, will be used to create the MSP that we will provide to the New England Synod.  This MSP describes who we are and what we are looking for to potential candidates.

The second phase of the process is the Call Process Phase.  There will be a separate Call Committee (appointed by the Church Council and approved by the congregation), leading this phase where they will interview candidates and eventually recommend a candidate to the Church Council and congregation.  This phase is complete when the Church Council and pastoral candidate(s) come to an agreement to join Faith, and the congregation has voted to approve the pastoral candidate(s).

The last phase of the process is the Start Up Phase.  We will provide more detail when we get to this phase but during this time the Transition Team will support the new pastoral leadership and its transition into our community.

Next Steps

As mentioned above, the Transition Team will be setting up a history event and small online cottage meetings.  We would like to get as many people as possible involved in this process, and we are prepared to be as flexible as possible to accomplish this.  Do you have a group of people at church that you socialize with and would want to have an online cottage meeting with?  Let us know and we will virtually host it.  Or respond to one of our requests to attend a meeting.  We will have these meetings on different days and times to accommodate everyone.  If you have an interest in the future of our church, attending the online history event and a cottage meeting is your opportunity to make your voice heard.

Questions

  • Who is on the Transition Team? John Breiland (chair), Chris Banta, Sue Eliasen, Kathy Faulk, Dave Hempstead, Jeanne Hladky, Dave Kress, Pr Jen Leisk, Ingrid Marstaller, Kevin Maschhoff, Jackie Morrissey, Craig Saline, Lynn Wong
  • What is Pr. Jen’s role in this? Jen’s role is to help and guide the Transition Team through this time of discernment, to help us discover the future needs of our congregation. She has gone through training provided by the New England Synod for this process.
  • How long could this process take? This process could be long, and we need to be patient. We’ve been so fortunate in our history to have very long standing pastors, and the time we spend now to discern the needs of our congregation and wait for the right candidate, are critical for us to find someone who we will hopefully have a very long relationship with.
  • How many pastors will we be calling? Our future needs will be determined during the Transition Phase, with what the Transition Team learns during our online cottage meetings.
  • Why can’t we hold meetings in person? Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, our Church Council has decided that large groups cannot meet in person at this time. Should restrictions loosen, we will consider meeting in person.
  • If I cannot attend a meeting, how can I give my input to the Transition Team? The Transition Team is sensitive that people may not want to, or be able to, attend the online meetings. We will be considerate of this and provide alternate options as we solicit feedback from the congregation.
  • Why are we even doing this, why can’t we just keep Pr. Jen? Jen is not automatically a candidate for our pastoral calling. Once we’ve completed the Transition phase, and provided the MSP to the New England Synod, Pr. Jen will discern for herself if this is a calling that fits her needs.
  • If I have a question, who should I ask? If you have any questions, please contact us at transitionteam@faith-andover.org and someone will respond.