Search Committee Minutes and Announcements

On Sunday, January 16, 2022, the membership of First Christian Church Paris gathered in a Congregational Meeting to extend an invitation to Rev. Wilmer “Reece” Jones to serve as our senior minister. Rev. Jones accepted the invitation. Below is the final report of the Search Committee.

January 18, 2022

We are reaching out again as the (former) Senior Minister Search Committee, this time with a message of thanks. Sunday morning was a joyous occasion. All of us on the committee appreciate the nice comments and words of appreciation; but we did not go through this process alone. Anyone who prayed, encouraged, welcomed, baked, cooked, organized, visited, consulted, hosted, or showed up along the way in any form has had ownership in this process. Most importantly, we know that God has been with us. He always is, but with so many earnest prayers, we believe that whatever has come to pass and whatever lies on the path ahead is in harmony with his will and his great plan for us.

No process is flawless. Every relationship takes hard work and understanding. While our work as a committee is done, each of us – like each of you – is a part of making this transition work going forward.

It seems surreal to say that this is the final update for the search committee, but what a great thing to be able to say. Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!

The FCC Senior Minister Search Committee – Candi, Daniel, Donna, Nels, Pete, Steve, and Troy

October 28, 2021

Last week, the Senior Minister Search Committee hosted a candidate from out-of-town. I am pleased to report to you that this visit went remarkably well. The brief time we had together included a driving tour of Paris, a walk-through of our church building, an in-person interview with the Search Committee, an introduction to our office manager, a meet and greet with our Elders and Staff Relations Committee, and a meeting with representatives from the Staff Relations and Stewardship/Finance Committees. To say it was a busy 24 hours would be an understatement. I am very grateful to all who were involved in making such a favorable impression, from the folks who helped make our guest feel welcome to all the people who keep our building looking so great and presentable. He enjoyed visiting with those he met, he loved the facility, and he especially loved seeing the fellowship we share with one another. I think he was very pleasantly surprised by how much at home he felt.

Our Search Committee met this week. We have decided that we are unanimous in our support of this candidate, and we have communicated that to him. Up to this point, we have simply explored this possibility together. Now, it is up to him to decide for sure whether he would like to be officially considered by our board and congregation. The next several weeks will be critical. This minister was introduced to us by a mutual friend in ministry who thought we would be a good fit for one another. He was not in the process of searching for a new church, and he is not interviewing with churches other than ours. He is very happy in his current church but feels that he would like the opportunity to serve a larger, more vibrant congregation like ours. Our candidate will need to consider very earnestly the reality of this decision. He has never lived in the Midwest and until recently had never heard of Paris, Illinois. In addition to all of the logistics, he must face many important conversations with family members and friends and eventually his current congregation. We want to show respect to him and to this process of prayer and discernment. Therefore, we feel it would be imposing and inappropriate to demand that he make a decision prior to our November board meeting which is less than two weeks away. We have instead asked that he reply to us by the end of November. Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding.

Now is the time to be praying. With lots of trust and prayer, we can have confidence that whatever the outcome, it was God’s will. The holiday season is a difficult time for searching and interviewing those in ministry. If this does not come to pass, our search will resume in January and we will still look forward to a bright future.

We will report to the congregation promptly when a response is received.


September 14, 2021

Report to FCC General Board Meeting

The Senior Minister Search Committee has been diligent in the solicitation and review of candidates. To date, we have reviewed 30 candidates as a committee. We have reached out to a number for interviews; however, we receive responses from only some of those. We have conducted a total of 6 interviews.

Our committee was directed by the board to solicit candidates from both Disciples and independent Christian church backgrounds. This has been met with mixed success. In the beginning, we received inquiries from several independent candidates. We felt encouraged to interview 2, one of whom later changed his mind about leaving his current church. The other candidate interviewed twice with us but declined our invitation to come and meet with us in person. We have received many candidate profiles from CCIW. These profiles are very detailed and provide most of the information that would be learned in an initial interview. This makes the process somewhat easier. However, these profiles also make it evident when a candidate would likely not be a good match for our congregation. We have reached out to at least 8 of the Disciples candidates; of those 8+, two have agreed to interview with us.

We have encountered challenges in appealing to independent candidates. Some independents are hesitant to consider a Disciples congregation. Others seem to be dissuaded by a church that is not governed solely by elders, by the presence of female elders, or by our more traditional worship style. While we feel that our congregation would be somewhat flexible in our worship, our form of representative government and inclusion of both men and women in leadership is something that we hold dear. So, this will likely remain an obstacle with some independent candidates.

We have encountered challenges in appealing to Disciples of Christ candidates. Some DOC candidates are hesitant to consider what they describe as a “purple church,” a term used to describe congregations with a mix of both liberal and conservative ideologies. Many others indicate a desire to minister to a more urban, diverse, and/or progressive congregation. FCC has always encouraged our members to be active citizens and to seek justice in our world as individuals. But our “purple” blend of ideologies and the private nature of our political views have always been sacred to us. As bizarre as it may seem based on our understanding of the central themes of our denomination, this will likely remain an obstacle with some DOC candidates.

In conclusion, we have three choices as a church: we can overhaul the way we govern our church, we can become more uniformly liberal and progressive, or we can continue to pray and be patient. I wish I could bring you a more attractive set of options. To put a positive spin on things, FCC Paris is more unique and special than we have ever realized. We are an excellent model for what we have understood a Disciples congregation to be, and we are doing it with great success. The right candidate will see us for who we are and share those same principles.

On an encouraging note, the DOC candidate to whom we are currently speaking shows promise of being a good match. We conducted a second interview last evening. We will be meeting as a committee with others involved in the specifics of this decision in the next week to decide on an appropriate next step.

I cannot overstress to you the importance of EVERYONE’S prayers as we move through this process.

Respectfully submitted,

Pete Templeton, Chair

August 20, 2021

The Senior Minister Search Committee has met twice since our last update. At our first meeting, we reviewed our process, our interview procedures, and discussed additional ways to promote our church and our position opening. At our second, we reviewed eight more potential candidates and are reaching out to three of them for interviews. Thank you for your continued prayers and words of support.

July 28, 2021

The Senior Minister Search Committee has been busy in spite of a challenging month schedule-wise. The committee is now fully engaged in the process of reviewing and interviewing potential candidates. We have reviewed the profiles/resumes of eighteen interested candidates to-date, eleven of which have come from within the Disciples of Christ denomination, and seven of which have come from independent Christian Church or similar backgrounds. Of those eighteen, we have felt encouraged to interview six, three of which have been interviewed in the last month. In the next two weeks, we have scheduled two more first interviews and one second interview. Our candidate pool is diverse – those being interviewed include male candidates, female candidates, white, Asian American, and African American candidates. This is a difficult and tedious process. Please pray that God will lead our next pastor to FCC and that we will recognize them when he does.

May 25, 2021

The committee met on May 25th to begin the process of reviewing applications and scheduling initial phone interviews. Your prayers are extremely important to this process as we prayerfully consider each applicant and listen for God’s voice in bringing us together with our intended minister.

May 4, 2021

The committee met with Rev. Mike Dixon and Pastor John Snidle. Mike and John gave excellent input on finalizing our CCIW Profile, job description, and notice of position opening. The committee determined that we have spent adequate time in consultation. While we will continue in prayer and preparation, we are prepared to begin seeking and accepting applications. We will meet again the week of May 23rd to discuss progress.

April 27, 2021

The committee met with the Rev. Rick Grace of Disciple Heritage Fellowship, a support organization for Independent Christian and Disciples of Christ congregations. Rev. Grace was an excellent resource for how to pose theological interview questions and knowing what to bring up when.

APRIL 20, 2021

The Permanent Minister Search Committee met on Tuesday evening, April 20th. At this meeting we completed the updating of the Congregational Profile for CCIW. In addition, we completed a posting notice for the position and reviewed the job description and previous employment contract, as well as made clarifications as to requirements. We are also currently working with the Staff Relations and Stewardship & Finance committees. We ask everyone to continue to pray for our search and for FCC, especially at 7:07. 

APRIL 13, 2021

The Permanent Minister Search Committee held in-person meetings with Rev. David Upchurch, Director of Church Ministries for Lincoln Christian College on April 6th, and with Rev. Teresa Dulyea-Parker, Regional Minister and President of CCIW on April 7th. Both were very helpful in sharing their extensive experiences with ministerial searches, and both offered suggestions on the dos and don’ts of an effective search process. Both have promised to provide potential candidates to us for our review, and Rev. Upchurch has already begun doing so. Rev. Parker will return in the future with CCIW candidates for us to review.

At the April 13th meeting, business centered around preparing for the search and consisted of the following:

  • Reviewing and discussing meetings with Revs. Upchurch and Parker
  • Discussing ways to involve the congregation in the search process especially with regard to prayer.
  • Reviewing and editing our CCIW Congregational Profile.
  • Reviewing and editing the job description
  • Discussing ways to promote our church and community to potential candidates.
  • Scheduled in-person meeting with Rev. Rick Grace, Church Liaison for Disciple Heritage Fellowship.

The Search Committee is dedicated to listening and praying for God’s plan for FCC, seeking the expertise of those who have many years of experience with permanent minister searches, and giving preference to candidates who are known and vouched for by reputable sources.


  1. Share your thoughts by dropping a note in the suggestion box, leaving a note in the offering baskets, or calling/texting any search committee member.
  2. PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!! We are asking everyone in our congregation to join us in praying DAILY at 7:07 a.m., 7:07 p.m., or better yet – BOTH. 7:07 reminds us of Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Remember that what we are asking for and seeking is God’s will for FCC. Prayer makes a difference!


The Search Committee held its organizational meeting on Friday, March 19th. The following business was conducted:

  • The Committee opened in prayer, and committed to spending time each day in silent prayer focused on listening for God’s plan for FCC. The congregation is asked to join us in this focus.
  • Decided to meet weekly, at least until the search has been organized and is well underway.
  • Decided that five of seven members will be required for quorum. Five votes will be required for general business; seven votes/unanimity will be required for candidate advancement.
  • Scheduled in-person meetings with Rev. Teresa Dulyea-Parker, CCIW Regional Minister, and Rev. David Upchurch, Director of Church Ministries for Lincoln Christian College.
  • Decided to keep the congregation up-to-date on general business after each meeting via the church website, and on specific business/important updates via congregational announcements. Will ask to have website updates published in the Messenger when possible.

We ask the congregation to be in prayer DAILY for our search and time in silent prayer listening for God’s plan for our congregation. We would appreciate receiving input/suggestions/concerns/preferences from the congregation in any of the following ways:

  • Drop a card in the lobby suggestion box
  • Leave a note in the offering baskets in the sanctuary, or in offering plates when that resumes.
  • Call or text any search committee member below:
    • Nels Kasey 217-254-8705
    • Candi Milam 217-822-9838
    • Donna Moss 217-822-4041
    • Troy Sanders 217-251-4300
    • Daniel Smittkamp 217-822-6328
    • Pete Templeton 217-822-0798
    • Steve Webb 217-822-3351