14 September 2021

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