In times of pastoral transition, the staff of the Conference is ready to support Local Churches. From being present in the farewelling of a beloved pastor, to sharing best practices in forming a Ministerial Search Committee (MSC), providing the necessary resources to create a Local Church Profile (LCP) and listing in Employment Opportunities — our covenant connection is often made most tangible in the Search & Call process.
Search & Call is the process by which a Local Church and an Authorized Minister come together in covenanted, mutual ministry in and on behalf of the United Church of Christ. The third covenantal partner, an Association, is engaged in the final authorization for ministry in the particular setting through the process of installation. In the Northern California Nevada Conference, Ministerial Standing is held in the Conference rather than an Association, and so the Conference is engaged both as a programmatic partner through administration of Search & Call as well as the appropriate section of the Committee on Ministry for evaluation of the particular Authorized Minister in establishing Standing.
When made aware of a pending pastoral transition, the Moderator of a Local Church is expected to notify one of the Conference Ministers to make an invitation to begin the process of an orderly transition. Conference staff will routinely assist in the following steps:
- Facilitating an exit interview with the departing pastor and appropriate board or committee of the Local Church (usually the Council/Consistory and Pastor Relations Committee).
- Conducting the Ritual of Covenant Release in the pastor’s final worship service with the Local Church.
- Introducing the Search & Call process to the Council/Consistory and providing best practices for establishing a Ministerial Search Committee (MSC).
- Securing pastoral support for the Local Church during the Search & Call process: interim, designated term, or supply.
- Identifying a consultant to work with the Local Church in conducting the Day of Discovery and creating rich snapshot of the Local Church’s ministry for the Local Church Profile (LCP).
- Engaging with MSC, Council/Consistory, and others who the Local Church determines to be appropriate in determining the most appropriate categorization for the next pastor: settled, designated term, or supply.
- Receiving the LCP and Employment Opportunities listing, ensuring both are in agreement with Conference Compensation Guidelines, and making the opportunity available to Authorized Ministers and Members in Discernment Approved for Ordination Pending Call, as well as Full Communion Partners eligible for Ministerial Standing in and on behalf of the United Church of Christ.
- Forwarding Ministerial Profiles to the MSC upon request of the Authorized Minister, or as a staff recommendation by Conference staff periodically reviewing available Snapshots in the Profiles system.
- Conducting Final Review on finalists prior to Candidating, as well as placing a Hold on Profiles once MSC has received enough applications.
- Receiving the Letter of Call following a successful Candidating and congregational vote, and facilitating the connection among the Local Church, Authorized Minister, Committee on Ministry, and Association to move forward to achieving Ministerial Standing and installation.
Key staff relationships for Search & Call:
- Local Churches in Bay, Mountain Valley, and Sacramento Valley Associations should be in touch with the Rev. Davena Jones, Associate Conference Minister.
- Local Churches in Golden Gate, Santa Clara, and Sequoia Associations should be in touch with the Rev. Daniel Ross-Jones, Associate Conference Minister.
- All Local Churches and Authorized Ministers engaged in Search & Call will receive administrative support from Sonny Graves.
In addition to the resources linked above, the following resources are likely to be introduced by Conference staff working with your Local Church.
- Glossary of terms, produced by the Ministerial Excellence, Support, and Authorization (MESA) Team, Local Church Ministries, United Church of Christ
- A Brief Introduction to Search & Call, produced by the Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ
- Template for the Local Church Profile
- Search & Call in the United Church of Christ
- Search & Call for Authorized Ministers in the Northern California Nevada Conference