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Church Council Meeting Minutes – 7/18/2013

Recorder:  Elinor Redmond

 Peggy Murray called the meeting to order at 7:05.

Members present:  Nancy MacLean, Scott Berry, John Shoos, Betsy Keiter, Elinor Redmond, Peggy Murray, Holly Culver, John Howard.  Robin Reinhold was present via telephone.  Absent were Bob Morse (in Germany), Beth Hess (in Ireland) and Silas Zechman (travelling with his family).  Deb Dagnan was present from the Search Committee.

Peggy read from the Bible and Elinor read two prayers.

Report from the Transition Committee: 

Peggy and Scott reported on the interview of Anne Fuehrer for the position of Director of Children and Family Ministries.  Judy Magnuson (EF&G) joined the Transition Team for the interview process.

Anne Fuehrer is has worked with children and families at the South Freeport Congregational Church for the past 11 years.  Peggy and Scott spoke about the glowing references she received from the Pastors, the Office Manager and someone named Tim.  Ann is energetic, creative, and excited to work in a larger church.  She is effective at communication and especially good with volunteers.  She understands the Sunday morning commitment.

The Council upheld the recommendation of the Transition Team:  John Shoos made the motion to employ Anne, Betsy Keiter made the second.  The vote was unanimous, including Robin.

Report of the Search Committee: 

Betsy was extremely excited to share the Good News that the Search Committee has found the candidate for our new Pastor.  The Committee is recommending this person unanimously and Betsy, with support from Peggy and Elinor,  negotiated the terms of call.

 Betsy took us through the process, revealing that the Committee had reviewed 38 profiles (with more ‘on hold’ at the Conference office).  Each profile is over 25 pages, including demographics, checklists of characteristics prepared by the candidates and those acting as references, statement on ministry, a self evaluation and a background check.  The Committee read through every profile and did further research on line.  The group did a ‘temperature check’ as they read each profile and were often not unanimous in their opinions.  They talked about every candidate even if the person seemed like a bad fit for our church.  They had great conversations in the process.

They wanted to find out more about 11 candidates and sent each one a copy of our profile and asked questions.  When possible, they viewed video sermons or listened to audio sermons.  They went on to set up Skype interviews with 3 strong candidates.  Of the three, one was all set up for Skype.  During the interview, the internet connections was lost and they switched to using the telephone.  The second candidate did not want to do a Skype interview and used the telephone.  The third candidate had never used Skype but went ahead and gave it a try.  This is the person chosen by the committee to be our new pastor.  The interview went well from the South Portland end; when asked for feedback from the candidate, Betsy learned that only about 25% of the words spoken could be understood.

The Committee spent an additional 2 weeks doing Q & A through e-mail and checking references.  Darren did a reference check at the Conference level and gave the Committee the ‘thumbs up’ to move forward with scheduling the face to face interview/visit.

The candidate travelled to our church for a face-to-face interview, arriving on a Friday.  The evening was spent on interview time, followed by a short chapel service with the message given by the candidate.  On Saturday, the candidate had a tour of the area, followed by brunch with the Committee.  There was a lot of conversation and each member had a chance to converse more directly with the candidate (except Jim Rideout, who was away).

The following Thursday, the Committee agreed unanimously to request a ‘neutral pulpit’ (candidate preaches at a neutral church away from South Portland and away from their own church).  This meeting was the last one for Phil Whitney.  Because of the timing of the events surrounding the ending of John’s ministry and needing to work through with the process with other candidates, they waited 6-7 weeks for the event.

The neutral pulpit was held in a large, full church.  The Senior Pastor was very gracious and gave space for interview time after the service.  The candidate preached on the lectionary.  The weekend validated the Search Committee’s choice.  The candidate feels a strong pull to our church and needed no discernment time after the neutral pulpit.  A pastor’s child, the candidate knows well the life of the church.  S/he loves to preach, uses poetic language, and tries to find a balance between what people are looking for in a traditional worship service and  introducing more creative elements to allow for a different worship experience.

The candidate spent time in the business of Christian publishing before going to Seminary.  Following a couple of years as an associate in a larger church, the person moved to a smaller church (230-250) as Senior Pastor for the past 8 years.


Beacon article:   Betsy passed around a letter from the Search Committee to the congregation, written by Sandy Dyer.  It will be the core of a Beacon article.  The Council recommended being sure to use a strong headline to grab people’s attention so that they read the article.

Announcement during worship:  Betsy will announce that a candidate has been selected and the date of candidating weekend (August 10 & 11).

All church e-mail blast on July 29th:

Direct mail August 5th:  This letter will include personal information about the candidate (name, present location, etc.).

Saturday, August 10th:  Sessions for people to get to know the candidate are a 9 AM to 11 AM and 6 PM to 8 PM with Question & Answertime in the Sanctuary for the first hour, followed by social time in Wright Pavilion. 

Terms of Call: 

Betsy met with Rick Cowles at the Conference office to find out 2013 numbers on salaries and housing.  The chart on the web-site uses 2011 numbers.  Other amounts in the call do not entail choice.  Betsy worked on the terms of call with Peggy and Elinor.  The terms are basically the same as those in John McCall’s call.  The negotiations with the candidate were smooth and easy.  The terms specify November 4 or 11, 2013, as the start date.

In reviewing the call agreement, the Council had several questions.  Health and dental is not provided through another carrier.  Personnel will review the terms of the Call Agreement.  Nancy requested we break out the numbers to the expanded budget format.  Also, she pointed out that sometimes churches do not require a full 90 days and will let a pastor go sooner.  

John S. asked about conversation with the candidate concerning an Associate Pastor.  Betsy says the candidate wants one and realizes the position may not be full time.

The candidate has made contact with Diane.  They have had good conversations.  Nancy pointed out we may not have a lot to say about overlap.  The candidate needs to be able to walk in and be in church.  At the same time, Thanksgiving and Advent planning needs to happen.

John Shoos moved to accept the terms of call and Scott Berry seconded the motion.  The vote was unanimous, including Robin.

Format of Special Meeting:

Peggy’s agenda included the details of the meeting. 

The Search Committee will make the motion to call the new Pastor.  Peggy will write the specific motion.

John S. asked what we would do if we do not have a quorum?  We will check the number at the beginning of the service and start calling members to attend.  A quorum is 71 members.

John S. and John H. will be head tellers for counting the votes.

The Council is excited and curious to learn more about the candidate.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:40PM. 

The next regular meeting of the Council is on August 15th.

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