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On the call process… Part 3


While I hope you have (or will) read parts 1 & 2, this is more of a stand-alone post.

In my (limited) experience, the call process is very much a close, secret process.  A congregation often doesn’t know who the main candidate will be until the day of the vote, which is when they will see the candidate for the first time as s/he leads worship and preaches.  The call committee (the group responsible for the winnowing and interviewing) and the church council (the governing board for the congregation) know a bit more – which means, if you are in a small congregation, everyone may know ahead of time anyhow – but, by and large, most members don’t know who the candidate is.

My experience with my soon to be current call was completely different.

After having submitted my ELCA paperwork (16 pages), I received an e-mail request for a resume (they found my information on a website – the Society of the Holy Trinity website, I think) to be sent to the call committee of the congregation.  After some internal grumbling (they want a one or two page resume after I just spent so much time on 16 pages?!?!), I finally, two and a half weeks later, sent in a resume.  The congregation is in Oklahoma, and I had no intention of leaving the ELCA or serving a congregation west of the Mississippi, so I decided to just go through the process as interview practice.

I was one of ten who went through a phone interview, lasting about an hour.  After that, I ended up being one of the final three candidates, and this is where things were different.  The call committee scheduled visits for the final three candidates – and had us interview with the call committee, the staff, the church council (all on Saturday) and then lead worship and preach on Sunday.  That means the whole congregation had the opportunity to interact with the pastoral candidates.

After being named as the primary candidate, my family and I were flown out and had another round of interviews (much less intense) and another Sunday morning of leading worship and preaching.  A few weeks later, the congregational meeting was set, and they voted to call me as pastor.

I don’t know if the process would have worked as well if the interviewing congregation had been in the same state as my then current congregations.  It would have been more likely that word would have leaked that I was interviewing.  I can say that the process worked extraordinarily well and was impressed that the congregation was so involved in that part of the process.  Maybe it worked because of the character of the congregation; maybe that process could work elsewhere… my questions for you:

What was your best and your worst experience in the call process?  How might the process be improved between interviewing congregation and candidate?

P.S.  Next week will be the final posting in the call process saga; on leaving your congregations and having a pastor leave.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. Ronald A Orovitz permalink
    4August2011 10:43

    Congratulations on your the Call you have received. It sounds like now, you have a decision to make. The Lord be with you, and may His Spirit guide you.

    The congregation that I currently serve as interim, wanted each candidate to come and preach before the first interiew with the Call Committee. They were talked out of that. Whether or not that would have been a good thing is interesting speculation. They are proceeding with the Call Committee hearing the candidate preach after their first interview with them, at a neutral site.

    In any event the congregation is being left out of the process until a primnary candidate is selected. The congregation will only have the opportunity to interact with the final candidate.

  2. 4August2011 12:52

    Well you know my experience, as I was one of them also, and I can honestly say that this has become my worst, due primarily to the lack of information forthcoming in the process and the (intentional?) misleading nature of what little I did receive. I see it as extreme disrespect for the office itself, that I found out of the impending vote to call another candidate online, rather than from the committee or council chair, and quite honestly, I’m now glad they didn’t issue the call to me. Personally, I was quite hurt that they didn’t feel it important enough or respect me enough to at least keep me informed during the process.

  3. Rev. Keith Falk, STS permalink
    4August2011 14:02

    Ron, I have already accepted a call to serve the congregation, so I’m set on that front. It was really different for me, as a candidate, to meet with all of those folks before I even knew if I was the primary guy. I see some advantages and disadvantages to it, for sure. I am not necessarily advocating for one process over the other, but just sharing that there are some different ways to go about it.

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