Beloved members of the OSC congregation:
The OSC Senior Minister Search Committee has been hard at work on your behalf for the last year. We were blessed with a pool of candidates from across the country that included talented clergy from a variety of ages, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, denominational backgrounds, career paths, and nationalities. We reviewed 50 profiles, interviewed 13 candidates via zoom, watched dozens of sermons, read pastoral letters, spent hundreds of hours in prayer and discernment, and finally extended invites to meet in person with four people, three of whom accepted.
Our two-day in-person experience consisted of a visit to Mass and Cass to work with and minister to people battling addiction and living on the street, a mock worship planning session with Old South clergy and staff, a Bible study, small group fellowship over lunches and dinners, a property tour and conversation about building use and the budget with operations staff, a two-hour formal interview, and a closing vespers service of word and sacrament.
We learned a lot about each candidate, our congregation, and ourselves. Some of these lessons were sobering. People of color may not always feel in our community the wide, warm welcome we intend (and pray God will help us) to offer. Some of these lessons were affirming. Powerful preaching is even more important to us than we thought; the congregational way is something we hold dear. Old South Church is blessed with committed and talented lay leaders who want nothing but the best for our church even when it may conflict with our own self interest. Each of us has been transformed by this process and we are humbled to have been called to serve the church we love for such an important undertaking.
We treasure the time we spent with each of our three finalists in person. Any congregation would be blessed to be led by any of the three. Through hours of discernment in conversation, one candidate emerged as the person we believe God is calling to lead Old South Church as our next Senior Minister. This person is known to most of you. We (and he) recognize that this call may be perceived (initially) as a “safe” choice, a continuation of the status quo; potentially lacking the forward momentum and drive for change we heard expressed through our church profile. Trust that he was vetted in the same way and through the same lens we used to look at all the candidates. The fact that he served Old South Church as an associate minister in the past was perhaps equal parts burden and blessing in the Search Committee’s deliberations. In the end, the Committee embraced both his deep knowledge of the church and its history, his love for the congregation, and his impressive growth as a leader and pastor over the years he has been away from Boston. His dynamic preaching, collaborative leadership style, and pastoral care touched our hearts, stirred our souls, inspired our faith, and awakened our imaginations.
He has a passion for social justice, cares deeply for the LGBTQ+ community, and is a dedicated anti-racist. He is committed to the UCC and our congregational legacy. He will sit with us in our discomfort as we reconcile the sins of our past. He will lead us in a way that empowers and galvanizes us to go out into the world to spread the good news of Jesus Christ, fight for justice and peace, and amplify our voice as a leader for progressive Christianity in Boston, in Massachusetts, and beyond.
After much prayer and discernment and listening to God’s still speaking voice, the Senior Minister Search Committee is pleased to nominate the Reverend John Marlow Edgerton as the next Senior Minister of Old South Church in Boston, so help us God.
The Old South Senior Minister Search Committee