August 29, 2015
Sixth Report To The Congregation
May 31, 2015
WCC Annual Meeting presented by Susan Gillette & LeAnn Pope
- We started our process in April of 2014 by creating a Search Committee Covenant
- We conducted a Listening Tour, talked to the SPSC Chairs of Kenilworth Union and St Paul’s United Church of Christ in the city to better understand the call process
- We evaluated 8 search firms, interviewed 3 and ultimately chose The Vanderbloemen Group
- We created a Senior Pastor Congregational Survey to help us define the type of Senior Pastor the congregation was hoping and praying for
- We hosted small group discussions
- We surveyed WCC’s current demographics
- Ken Guy and Susan Gillette presented the research results at the WCC Leadership Meeting in December of 2014
- We created our search materials and process guidelines using the UCC Search and Call binder as a blue print
- The Vanderbloemen Group came for a weekend to meet with Leadership and the Search Committee to finalize our search materials and understand WCC’s expectations
- We began looking at resumes in January of 2015 which helped us better fine-tune what we were looking for with Vanderbloemen
- Vanderbloemen also evaluated all of the resumes that we received through our “yes and strategy” either through personal referrals or through our website. One of them made it to the final candidate pool
- When our Senior Pastor Search Profile was posted on Vanderloemen’s website it received almost 5,000 views
- Ultimately Vanderbloemen followed up with 136 candidates, had interviews with 12-18
- When we lost Ken Guy in February of 2015, LeAnn Pope stepped up as Co-Chair of our Search Committee
- Vanderbloemen presented us with a final slate of 6 candidates in March
- We started by studying each candidates resumes and listening to their sermons online
- We conducted two rounds of phone interviews with all of the candidates. LeAnn Pope and Susan Gillette conducted one round. The whole committee was present for the second round
- We brought two candidates to Winnetka for two-day interviews with the Search Committee
- We are grateful for the congregation’s patience and support
- We have come a long way in 15 months. Things are getting exciting
- Stay tuned!
Fifth Report To The Congregation
March 15, 2014
I’m Julie McConnell and am here today to provide you with an update of progress in the WCC Senior Pastor Search.
Let me start by thanking the many of you who provided names of candidates or contacts to support our search. We have created a process such that all candidates, whether provided by us or by the search firm, are subjected to the same process and consideration.
So, here is what has been happening: The WCC Senior Pastor job description was posted on 12/11/14 on the Vanderbloemen search firm website.
WCC’s posting has generated significant interest thus far, specifically, as of 3/2/15:
- 4,987 people had looked at the website page with the job description. The most common ways for people to have reached the website page were via Google, Twitter, Instagram, referrals, and the job boards at Divinity schools.
- Of these roughly 5,000 people, Vanderbloemen looked closely at 134 of them, which means someone from the Vanderbloemen team had serious phone calls and/or interviews with them.
In terms of the theology of those that expressed interest in the position:
- 46% were UCC
- 18% were American Baptist
- 10% were Non-denominational
- 5% were Presbyterian
- The remaining 23% were from other denominations
In terms of geography, this has been a broad, national search:
- 32% were from the Midwest
- 15% were from New England
- 15% were from the Southeast
- 11% were from the Mid-Atlantic
- 5% candidates were international
- Remaining 22% from other parts of the US
Along the way the search firm provided us with check in calls, where they presented us with anonymous candidates for confidentiality reasons, just to make sure they were on the right track.
We have been very pleased with the process and are very encouraged, though not surprised, that people are interested in us. In fact, some may be circling the parking lot right now!
As of this month, the search team has been presented with a really good, diverse, initial slate of REAL candidates. We have pictures, we have sermons, we have resumes.
Please note that the process is still open, and we will continue to look at candidates until we find the right person. I think this bears repeating; we will continue to look at candidates until we find the right person.
So, we are not yet in the home stretch, but we are at the beginning of the exciting part of the journey to find our next life-changing Senior Pastor!
One final note: I would like to formally announce that Susan [Gillette] has chosen LeAnn Pope as her co-chair on this committee and that this decision has been enthusiastically supported by Exec, council and our committee. While no one can ever replace Ken Guy, Susan and Ken discussed in one of their first meetings what to do if for any reason one of them was unable to continue their duties as co-chair, and both agreed LeAnn would be their choice as a replacement.
Fourth Report To The Congregation
December 10, 2014
This has been a busy time for the Senior Pastor Search Committee. Just like we did with the process that led to the development and approval of Vision 2020 we needed to get your input. What are you looking for in a new Senior Pastor at WCC? What is most important to each of you? Where would you like to see our Senior Pastor focusing their time? Our Committee Members developed a survey and a small group discussion guide to collect this input. The Survey is now complete with over 200 members of WCC participating. Over half of those responding included personal comments about our new Senior Pastor. In addition, all of the input received during our “small group discussions (Spiritual Life Groups, etc.) has been collected and incorporated into our thinking. Thank you to all who participated and for the thoughtful comments provided.
Since early on the Search Committee agreed that we would need the help of outside resources, likely a search firm specializing in senior pastors, to find the best candidates for WCC. The Search Firm selected was The Vanderbloemen Group and their founder and President; William Vanderbloemen will handle our search personally. William and his search associate, Sarah Robbins spent three days in November at WCC. During their visit they conducted interviews with 20 members of WCC’s leadership team and met for an entire evening with the members of our Senior Pastor Search Committee.
All of the input received has now been incorporated into our Senior Pastor Profile. We believe that all of the hard work we have done this fall has resulted in a Winnetka Congregational Church and Senior Pastor Profile which reflects not only who we are but will also attract the Senior Pastor who will truly be the future of WCC.
The Senior Pastor Search Committee is working hard on this search and we have hired a well-qualified search firm to represent our interests and substantially expand our pool of candidates. But, we also need your help. No one knows WCC like the members of our Congregation. If you hear of someone you think might be able to expand our contacts … let us know. If you hear of a great preacher … let us know. We will be better off if we all participate in this important effort.
Thank you to all the members of WCC for your support in this process in this most spiritual time of the year. Blessings to you all.
Third Report To The Congregation
October 26, 2014
Good morning. I am Ken Guy. Susan Gillette and I are co-chairs of our Senior Pastor Search Committee. Other members of the Committee Include Heather Crimmins, Tom Geraghty, Bob Knight, Julie McConnell, Mike Meiners, LeAnn Pope, Scott Santi, Christy Shellenbarger, and Heather Smith. The list of the Committee Members along with their pictures appears in the hallway outside of the Narthex.
Lyn McKay who has much experience with non-profit searches is serving as a non-member consultant to our group. And Jeanne Ebersole is our liaison with Council.
Our Committee meets monthly and in addition has a conference call every two weeks to keep each other up to date on progress we are making. In addition, our plan is to have in person updates with the congregation and regular updates in the Messenger as we require input from you or have progress to report, which as you have seen, has been frequent in the last few weeks. This is in addition to updates we have been providing to Brad, Jeanne, the Council members and the Leadership team at WCC.
That said, the work we have been doing mostly takes place by this fabulous group of individuals between meetings. The meetings are mostly to provide updates and to insure that we are in alignment.
So, what has happened since Susan appeared before you in September?
The short answer … lots.
Since early on in this process our Committee felt that we would need the help of outside resources, likely a search firm specializing in senior pastors, to find the best candidates for WCC. To my surprise, search firms specializing in senior pastor searches are not that easy to find. We began looking seriously at eleven firms last spring and ultimately narrowed it to three, then two and earlier this month signed a contract with The Vanderbloemen Group. Who, not coincidentally, is the only one we found whose principal focus is on searches for pastors. It was also the largest firm we looked at and had the deepest resources available. The founder, William Vanderbloemen along with one of his associates, Sarah Robbins, will be our principal contacts. We have regular conference calls with them, have provided them with a significant amount of information on WCC, and they will both be visiting us in mid November.
Most of this work has been going on behind the scenes over the last several months. The more visible part of our process has fallen under the umbrella of our Communications team, which is a sub group of our Committee. Just like we did with the process that led to the development and approval of Vision 2020 we needed to get your input. What are you looking for in a new Senior Pastor at WCC; what is most important to each of you? Where would you like to see them focusing their time?
We developed and launched a survey to gather that information. I am very pleased to announce that we now have received over 200 responses to the survey and that over 90 of you took the time to write in additional thoughts. Many thanks to all who participated in the survey. You’ve heard it before … 80% of life is showing up. You showed up in a big way by participating in this process.
In addition, we have developed small group discussion guidelines for many of our small groups, Spiritual Life Groups and have hosted several of these after church and at various other gatherings. There is one scheduled after church today in the Centennial Room and another during the next meeting of the Confirmation parents.
We are currently digesting all of this information and will likely include the high points learned at the Leadership Meeting on November 11th. We have also turned the demographic information to the WCC staff so it can be updated on an ongoing basis.
The result of this information gathering will be a WCC and a Senior Pastor Profile which truly reflects not only who we are but will also attract the Senior Pastor who will truly be the future of WCC.
The goal of our search committee from the outset has been to find the deepest pool of excellent Senior Pastor candidates for WCC. This does not preclude us from finding our own candidates, or you recommending one, to add to those that the search firm brings forward. Susan and I are calling this “the best of both worlds” approach or the “win/win” approach.
Our Committee is working hard on this search and we have hired a well-qualified Search Firm to represent our interests and substantially expand our pool of candidates.
But, we also need your help. No one knows WCC like the people in this room. If you hear of someone you think might be able to expand our contacts … let us know. If you hear of a great preacher … let us know. We will all be better off if we all participate in this important effort.
I’d like to thank Brad, Lyn and Jeanne for their support and in particular the other members of the Search Committee. One of the great things that happens when you agree to participate …. You meet a lot of smart, nice people who are deeply committed to WCC.
The task that lies ahead is a daunting one but is also critical to the future success of Winnetka Congregational Church.
Second Report To The Congregation
Report to the Congregation September 7th, 2014
Good morning. I am Susan Gillette and Ken Guy and I are co-chairs of our Senior Pastor Search Committee. Other members of the Committee include Heather Crimmins, Tom Geraghty, Bob Knight, Julie McConnell, Mike Meiners, LeAnn Pope, Scott Santi, Christy Shellenbargar, and Heather Smith. Lyn McKay who has much experience with non-profit searches is serving as a non-member consultant to our group. And Jeanne Ebersol is our liason with Council.
This is the first Sunday of our new church year and we thought you would welcome an update of where we are in our search process so far.
Ken is out of town this weekend so I am giving our report.
Our full committee has met 3 times since convening in April. But each week over the summer, members of the WCC Senior Pastor Search Committee have been meeting in small groups and projects have been moving forward.
To leverage our human resources, Ken and I have divided our larger committee into two sub-groups. The Search Firm Sub-Group reports to Ken and The Communications SubGroup reports to me. We have talented individuals within each of these SubGroups who work in teams on specific assignments. This approach multiplies our fishes and loaves and has enabled us to get a significant amount of work done in a few short months.
Using the UCC Search and Call guidelines for Local Church and Senior Pastor Profiles as our blueprint, with the help of Council, the Communications SubGroup has collected almost all of the information needed to create our WCC Church Profile. This is a document that paints a detailed portrait of WCC for search firms and ultimately, our Senior Pastor candidates. The WCC Church Profile will contain information on our environs, history, governance, beliefs, mission and vision, programs, financial health, current staff, demographics–and more. We knew that whether we ended up working with a search firm–or not–we wanted to create a WCC Profile that would capture the unique, open-minded, open-hearted church we are—while our Senior Pastor Profile needs to speak to the hearts and minds of the special candidates we are searching for.
To help determine our Senior Pastor Profile we need your input.
We used the UCC guidelines to help us create a Senior Pastor Congregational Survey and Small group Discussion Guides which will enable you to share your thoughts about the most important qualities you believe our next Senior Pastor should possess. This will be happening in the next few weeks– so stay tuned.
Ken and his Search Firm SubGroup have been very busy as well, identifying search firms that might be a good fit with WCC. There has been general agreement from our very first Search Committee meeting that WCC’s search process—and our Committee– would benefit from the services of an outside consultant, most likely a Search Firm who specialized in pastoral searches.
The emergence of pastoral search firms is a fairly new phenomenon. When a large number of independent evangelical churches –like Willow Creek—started appearing across the country that had no denomination to help them recruit pastors, pastoral search firms sprang up to fill the void.
As an independent church Search Committee ourselves, we soon found out that while the Presbytery and the UCC both listed our Senior Pastor job opening 22 years ago, today this option is no longer available. So while we will continue to encourage you to bring forward candidates for consideration we feel we need help finding the next life-changing Senior Pastor for WCC.
The goal of our search committee is to find the deepest pool of excellent Senior Pastor candidates for WCC. This does not preclude us from finding
our own candidates –or you recommending one—to add to those that the search firm brings forward. Ken and I are calling this “the best of both worlds” approach.
But Ken and I and our committee are coming to the conclusion that this will most likely be accomplished by working with a search firm.
In addition to expanding our “candidate pool,” our Search Firm partner can analyze our research, perfect and package our search materials and provide valuable direction and insight during the interviewing process. In addition, using a Search Firm improves the likelihood of shortening the timeframe involved to present our final candidate to the Council and the Congregation.
To improve our learning curve, we spoke with members of the search committees of several local churches (Kenilworth Union, Christ Church and St Paul’s) that have recently searched for a new Senior Pastor. They generously shared their experiences with us and we were not surprised to find all of them used outside consultants of some type.
After extensive research, we are currently considering three search firms, all of whom we believe would be capable of helping us find the next Senior Pastor for WCC. We have spoken with all of them over the phone, all have sent in proposals and we have met with one of them face to face. We will reserve judgment until we meet with each of them, but it is looking like we will retain the services of one of these three firms. We hope to have a final decision and a Search Firm selected in the next couple of weeks.
First Report To The Congregation
Search Committee Update
Presentation for the Congregational Meeting
Sunday, May 4th, 2014
The Search Committee to identify a candidate for the new Senior Pastor of Winnetka Congregational Church was commissioned on Sunday, March 9th. Susan Gillette and Ken Guy were asked to Co-Chair this Committee and we find it difficult to express in words how honored and flattered we are to be charged with this task and how impressed we are with the other members of the Committee. These ten individuals are a wonderful example of the heart, soul and talent available at WCC.
Susan and Ken would like to extend a personal thank you to Lyn McKay who has been asked by The Council to provide advice to the Search Committee in an ex-officio capacity. Her expertise in not for profit searches has been invaluable.
We have begun the planning and listening phase of our quest and our full Committee met for the third time on May 4. We have also formed two sub groups, which continue to make progress focusing on specific tasks, and we have had numerous discussions, and face-to-face meetings with a number of people. Some of those have included:
- Other members of WCC who have both chaired and served on similar types of searches in the past … and there are lots.
- Search Firm professionals in our Congregation … thanks for your help Brad, Greg and others.
- Other churches who have successfully hired senior pastors in recent years including Kenilworth Union, Christ Church, St. Pauls in the city and more to come. Speaking with the chairs and committee members of these churches has been extremely helpful.
- In addition, Judy put us in touch with the United Church of Christ who has provided a wealth of information and who will continue to be helpful down the road.
- We had a great conference call with Tony Robinson, the consultant we worked with on the early stages of the strategic planning process.
- And a personal thank you to our Committee members who have also provided a wealth of information from other churches around the country.
The short version and major learnings from the first two months of this process are:
There is no need to re-invent the wheel for this process … and “We are not a fixer upper.” WCC is going to be an attractive opportunity for a prospective candidate.
So what comes next and what is going to happen going forward.
We hope to conclude this current phase by the end of June. This will include determining whether or not we require the use of outside resources (i.e. a search firm) and if yes, which person or firm will be selected.
During the next few months we will be working hard to finalize the go-forward process required, developing the vehicles for getting input from the entire Congregation on the key elements required and determining the needed communication vehicles to insure that you are all kept as up to date as frequently as possible.
Fortunately, we have a great template and a fabulous input process to clone as a result of the work done last fall with the Strategic Planning Process. Once again, no need to reinvent the wheel here.
Some additional things we are already working on include:
- Developing a Profile of the Winnetka Congregational Church, which will be used in the search process, drawing heavily on the information from the Strategic Plan. At the same time we will also be gathering additional demographic information regarding the make up of our Congregation. The UCC has provided a great template for the type of information and detail required.
- Adding a Search Committee link on the WCC website which will enable members to follow the committee’s progress and get relevant updates. This will also include a timeline and regular updates on our progress over the summer.
- Compiling a FAQ document about the Search Committee and our activities.
- As well as working on plans for regular updates in the Messenger and during worship to the Congregation as a whole.
Developing a Senior Pastor Profile will be one of our first areas of focus for the early fall. We will be fielding a survey with the membership of the church as well as having small group meetings to get your input as to what kind of Senior Pastor you think we need to help us implement our strategic plan and help us to grow in faith and membership.
Thank you for your unwavering support and your prayers.
Thank you, Ken for the thorough report of what our Senior Pastor Search Committee has been busy doing so far.
It isn’t easy looking forward while we are still holding on to our last few Sundays with our beloved Senior Pastor.
Joe we have been so blessed by your ministry and the lessons you have taught us will serve us well. We will walk together in all of God’s ways. We will hold onto what is good. We will support one another.
While it is hard to let go, we are able to do so because you have made us stronger as a congregation. You have made our faith stronger. You have opened our minds and our hearts. You have helped us to see God in one another.
We believe God has a plan for us. And we believe our next life-changing pastor is out there—somewhere–waiting for God’s call. For our call.
Before each meeting of the Search Committee we commit to praying the WCC Senior Pastor Search Committee Covenant.
Let us pray.
WCC Senior Pastor Search Committee Covenant
In the name of God who created us, Jesus Christ who redeemed us and the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, we the members of the WCC Senior Pastor Search Committee solemnly join hands and covenant with the congregation and one another:
To walk together in all God’s ways as we embark on our journey to find the Senior Pastor that God is calling here to Winnetka Congregational Church;
To work cooperatively, effectively and faithfully with one another until the completion of our task;
To rely on prayer in times of disagreement and discouragement;
To give equal consideration to all candidates regardless of age, race, gender, nationality, marital status or sexual orientation;
To maintain the confidentiality of all candidates and all discussions about them;
And to keep listening to God’s call, as best we can discern it, as we search for the next Senior Pastor for our church.
We make this covenant with one another, the congregation and Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.