May 23, 2023
As you know, your Search Committee has been hard at work since the last formal update in late March. We extended invitations to four final candidates to join us for a weekend of mutual discernment. Three accepted our invitation. Each candidate joined us for an experience that began in the middle of the day on a Friday and extended through Saturday evening. The candidates engaged on Friday afternoon with our pastoral staff in planning a worship service and with our operational church leaders in thinking about our budget and generating principles for building use. The entire Search Committee joined together for fellowship over dinner that evening and the candidate led us in a Bible study. On Saturday morning, a small group of us shared breakfast in a diner and went to the corner of Mass and Cass and joined a clean up crew, immersing ourselves in the problems of the city – addiction, poverty, homelessness. After lunch with another small group of committee members, we had an extended two and a half hour interview with the candidate. Candidates closed our time together with a vespers service of word and sacrament and enjoyed dinner with another small group of committee members.
Our time together allowed us to engage deeply with each candidate – to hear them describe themselves and share their perspectives but also to experience each candidate as a teacher, pastor, and worship leader. On Sunday evenings following these immersion experiences we met for two hours to process what we had observed and thought and felt. We invited the staff who had participated in the exercises with the candidates to share their reflections with us in writing.
Over the course of three subsequent discernment meetings, the committee has reached a unanimous decision that God is calling one of these candidates to serve as the 21st Senior Minister of Old South Church. Our discussions were rich and complex and prayerful – joyful and hopeful to be sure but also personal and humbling and at times painful. Through the process, we came to know and understand one another and the church we love more deeply. We believe we have heard God’s voice in one another and we are thrilled to be ready to present our recommendation to the Church Council on June 13.
Following the deliberation and discernment of the Church Council, we anticipate introducing the candidate to the church. The candidate will preach at a Sunday service – hopefully in late June! The service will be followed by a congregational meeting in which we will do what congregationalists do – discuss and vote to call a new Senior Minister.
As a Search Committee, we have been transformed in this process. Thank you for entrusting us with this sacred responsibility and supporting us with your prayers.