How do we call a new pastor?

Dear friends,

A common question I’m getting these days is about the Call process for our next pastor. Well, I’m glad you’ve asked! Here are a few details you might find interesting.

First, a Call process requires an excellent Call Committee with an equally impressive chair. Carole Parrott is our chair, and let me say that we are very lucky to have her leadership. Carole is organized, intuitive, and very careful to reflect the broad range of our congregation’s members. She joins a team that is equally impressive, representative of the congregation’s wonderful diversity of thoughts and interests.

Task 1 for the Call Committee was to complete a 13 page Ministry Site Profile (MSP) that offers potential candidates a deep-dive into the life, history, and purpose of St. John’s. The MSP was approved by Council on September 21.

At the same time, a job description is being finalized, based on priorities outlined in the MSP.

Task 2 is to complete six hours of Call Committee training, spread over 3 different Zoom calls. They’ve completed part 1, with part 2-3 scheduled for the first week in October. The training gives committee members a chance to conduct a “mock interview” with one of our Synod’s pastors. Based on feedback, the committee will form a list of questions and outline a good approach to our interview process.

At that point, the Synod shares with us 4-5 candidates who they think match our MSP. The Committee also begins reviewing names of other pastors who have been recommended for the position. Each candidate will share a 10-page Rostered Leader Profile (RSP) that gives us a glimpse into who they are and their unique gifts for ministry.

After reviewing all of the RSPs, the Committee will prioritize those candidates they’d like to interview. Those interviews can be in-person via Zoom, depending on the candidate’s availability and the committee’s recommendation.

After the first round of interviews, the Committee will narrow the list to 2-3 candidates and/or ask the Synod for a new list of names. Interviews continue until the committee is ready to name a “primary candidate.” If the primary candidate agrees, then the committee and candidate agree not to interview other candidates. At that point, another site visit is scheduled to meet with other ministry leaders, staff members and, sometimes, the congregation. If all goes well, the committee makes a recommendation to Council extend a call to the candidate. If approved, the Council refers the candidate to the congregation, which will meet in a called meeting to vote on the recommendation.

THEN we can make plans to welcome the new pastor!

How much time are we talking? That all depends on how quickly the “right” candidate emerges and on their particular time-schedule. Sometimes the ideal candidate needs to delay the call by a few months in order to honor a particular obligation or life circumstance. I’ve been part of call processes that last a few months to over a year. Let’s hope and pray for the former!

In the meantime, we’re so blessed with a solid group of leaders and staff members who are stepping up during the interim. It’s a little tricky this go-round since we’re also searching for a youth minister and, well, we’re trying to emerge from Covid, but we’re confident that the Holy Spirit is preparing to introduce us to two new, outstanding, and well-prepared staff members. Thank you for your patience.

As you know, Covid has presented us with challenges we’ve never before experienced, and re-emerging has been slower than expected. But there are bright lights on the horizon, including the introduction of a new pastor and youth director. They’ll no doubt bring new energy, new ideas, and a renewed commitment to ministry at St. John’s and in this community.

I’m excited about that, and I hope you are, too. Along the way, please pray for our Call Committee … pray for the candidates the Spirit is preparing for us … and pray that our congregation will emerge from the pandemic with a renewed commitment to ministry and an even deeper love for the God we are so blessed to serve.

Our very best to you.

+Pastor Rhodes


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