Senior Minister Search Overview
In March 2016, The Reverend Dr. Kenneth Ruge announced his plan to retire on August 15 (see letters below).
In April, Consistory approved the creation of a search committee and an off-site retreat was held for all current and incoming elders and deacons, current RCB Classis representatives, pastors and our program staff to discuss the Strategic Plan and the upcoming search. A series of brainstorming sessions was held to identify desirable qualities of our next senior minister. The following month, a 16-member Search Committee (members listed below) was assembled and The Reverend Cari Pattison was appointed Acting Head of Staff, effective August 15.
In June, Search Committee Chairs Bill Gay and Charlotte Haims created and mailed a congregational survey to learn what qualities our members feel are most important in a senior minister. The results will be compiled and included in a church profile available to applicants.
During the transitional period, the Worship Committee will invite a variety of guest preachers to our pulpit approximately once per month.
While we don’t know how long the search process will be, past searches have taken approximately one year. The Search Committee is committed to taking as much time as is needed to prayerfully discern God’s candidate to lead our church for years to come.
December 2016 Update
The Senior Minister Search Committee has been very busy this fall. As many readers will remember, a congregational survey was circulated this past summer and almost 50 percent of RCB members responded with their candid assessment of both the necessary qualities for a senior minister and the areas for improvement within our church. This feedback helped the Committee identify the top five or six ministerial traits that would best match our church’s needs.
Armed with these key criteria, we produced a “vision profile” for the position and placed advertisements in various Reformed Church, United Church of Christ and Presbyterian publications and websites. Equally important, we reached out to various seminaries for recommendations and received names of potential candidates from our existing pastoral staff. The advertising and outreach process began just after Labor Day.
VETTING AND INTERVIEWS
By Thanksgiving, we had received more than 60 applications from a diverse and well-qualified universe of candidates. The Committee analyzed each candidate and, as almost all pastors now post their sermons online, listened to hundreds of their sermons. As a result, the Committee was able to reduce the list of viable candidates to approximately 10 persons.
Interviews with these viable candidates will take place during December/January. Our hope is to have a shortlist of two to three candidates by February/March with a final selection following soon after so that a new senior minister would be available to start before the end of the second quarter of 2017.
This is the hoped-for timeline for the Committee’s work. That said, the right senior minister will ultimately come to us through the grace and guidance of God, so we cannot guarantee exactly when he or she will ultimately start. Getting the right senior minister is our most important task.
GETTING IT RIGHT
We are blessed to have 16 very involved and energetic Committee members who represent a cross-section of our church. Each of these members is spending countless hours weekly analyzing and researching candidates. Additionally, we are even more blessed to have such an engaged and committed pastoral and administrative staff, under the guidance of Cari Pattison. They are running this church with love and lots of elbow grease; since they all had to pick up some of the slack after Rev. Dr. Ruge retired. It is through their tireless efforts that the Senior Minister Search Committee can move diligently and deliberately through the search process to find the right pastor for our flock.
If you have any questions about the process, please do not hesitate to contact either one of us:
Bill Gay | Bill1959@aol.com
Charlotte Haims | email@example.com
We welcome the input, and your comments might help us to improve the process and/or find the right person.
Thanks for your prayers as we enter this wonderful holiday season.
November 2016 Update
In the five weeks since Ken Ruge officially retired, the Search Committee for our next senior minister has been busy. Formed in June, the committee comprises 16 diverse members who represent various ages and areas of involvement within the church.
At our first meeting in July, the Committee finalized a Congregational Survey that was shortly thereafter distributed to the congregation. More than 145 surveys were returned, all with insightful comments about the necessary qualities for a Senior Minister and areas for improvement within our church.
Overall the survey results reflected a united congregation. Not surprisingly, most of us are looking for Superman or Superwoman, with the spiritual grounding of Mother Teresa, to be our next Senior Minister. Although that will not be possible, here are some of the identified “must have” attributes:
* experienced and aspirational preaching;
* good leader for our congregation and church staff;
* evangelical and biblical faith style grounding; and
* live, participate and be actively involved in the greater southern Westchester community.
Armed with this information, we finalized a job description and began advertising on the RCA, UCC and Presbyterian main denominational websites in late August. We also began communicating with various seminaries and reaching out to friends of the Reformed Church of Bronxville who have helped us out in the past.
As of Sept.23, we had received 15 resumes. We are still very early in the search process and we expect to receive many more resumes over the next 30 days. We will begin interviews in late October and will report back to the congregation in November on our progress and the size of the potential candidate pool.
We believe it may take up to a year to complete the search. We are blessed to have the luxury of time to do this search correctly. Cari, along with Sam, Jonah and the rest of the pastoral staff, have risen to the occasion and are delivering blessed and moving sermons along with shepherding the many programs the RCB provides.
We are committed to keeping everyone informed on our processes and progress via periodic updates like this one in TheMessenger and a visual timeline, which is always on display in the Edwards Room, among other outreach. In theinterim, should you have any questions about the search process and/or ideas on potential candidates, please contact a member of the committee (full list with photos on timeline in Edwards Room) or the committee co-chairs:
Thanks for your support and prayers.
June 2017 Update
Our Committee has had a busy eight months thus far, and we are not finished yet. Since we started our work around Labor Day of last year—assembling criteria, placing ads, and prayerfully vetting submissions and interviewing candidates—we have received more than 100 resumes from a diverse group of very interesting and blessed individuals. For various reasons particular to each one of the candidates, we have yet to find the one true candidate whom we can fully and warmly call. As a result, our work continues.
After receiving a promising resume, our committee listens to multiple sermons for each candidate, researches his/her church or organization and attempts to do initial background checks via social media. Next, the committee discusses each prospect’s strengths and weaknesses to further identify those candidates likely to be the best fit for RCB. Then, we interview each likely candidate and do a further de-brief to create the short list of candidates invited to the church for another round of interviews with the committee and meetings with staff.
All the while we are homing in on potential candidates, other prospects continue to appear. The senior minister calling at our church is widely and rightly viewed as a plum position, and resumes continue to be sent to us, both from our original advertisements and from referrals from leading seminaries, our pastoral staff and fellow RCB members. As we write this, we are excited about a new slate of viable candidates, which reflects what we have learned from the earlier slate, and their related upcoming interviews throughout late May and June.
RIGHT, NOT RUSHED
Our committee is driven by a desire to find the right person for our next senior minister, not the rushed person.
We thank the Deacons and Elders on Consistory, to whom we recently presented this update, for sharing their appreciation of the magnitude of the work involved and for their support in the rightness of our approach to taking the time necessary to make the right choice. They note reassuringly that the committee that brought our previous senior minister here took a full year, and the committee before that took two years to find the right candidate. Our church benefitted so much from those committees’ considered and considerable efforts and from the love and leadership of the senior ministers they called to us.
We also want to thank again our diverse, intelligent, engaged and hard-working committee. We note, in particular, how our beloved church and committee member Betty Hewitt, who passed on February 17, 2017, put the “commit” into committee, working into the late evening hours just days before she died, interviewing candidates for the church she loved so much.
Equally important, we want to thank our pastoral and administrative staff who have guided our church through this process with dedication and God’s grace.
We appreciate your continued support and prayers throughout this period of discernment in the life of our church.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who are the members of the search committee?
A: Bill Gay and Charlotte Haims, Co-Chairs; Karla Diserens, Judy Foley, Betty Hewitt, Dan Johnson, Tony Lemberger, Emily Liggitt, Kristin Londal, Mary Macintosh, Doug Meyer, Jose Padilla, Amy Parsons, Rob Pfeifer, Gary Reetz, and Sandy Smith.
Q: How was the search committee formed?
A: Dr. Ruge and Dale Walker, VP of Consistory, with input from ministerial and program staff, as well as from the Consistory, identified and invited 16 women and men who have served the church in a variety of ways to join the committee. Most are elders and/or deacons, though none are serving currently, as their time on this committee will be substantial. Together, they represent a broad cross section of program and interest areas, including worship, music, mission, education, youth engagement, congregational care, and administration. Many are longtime members of the RCB, while others are relatively newer members.
Q: Is there an interim senior minister?
A: We’re fortunate to have a strong pastoral and administrative team who ably ran the church during Dr. Ruge’s sabbatical two years ago, so Consistory elected not to appoint an interim. The Reverend Cari Pattison, now entering her tenth year of service at The Reformed Church, will serve as Acting Head of Staff until a new senior minister has been called. Cari, along with The Reverend Samuel T. Clover and The Reverend Jonah Smith-Bartlett, all plan to remain in their Associate Minister positions when the new Senior Minister comes.
Q: What does the search committee do?
A: The search committee is charged with gathering input from the congregation, writing a church profile, advertising the position, studying best practices, reviewing applications and conducting interviews of candidates. Their duties may include traveling to other churches to observe candidates. When a finalist has been identified, they will present that person to the Consistory for a vote. The process ends when the Rockland-Westchester Classis of the Reformed Church in America—the regional body of churches of which The Reformed Church of Bronxville is a part—affirms Consistory’s choice and calls the new Senior Minister.
Q: What will be the role of the existing ministers during the search process?
A: Our church is blessed to have three strong and committed clergy members: Cari Pattison, Jonah Smith-Bartlett, and Sam Clover. While Cari will serve as Acting Head of Staff, she will continue many of her current responsibilities, as will Jonah and Sam. Consistory has invited a number of guest preachers over the next year to help with preaching duties.
Q: How do I recommend someone for the Senior Minister position?
Q: How can I help the search committee?
A: First and foremost, please pray for the Search Committee and our church. Share the news that The Reformed Church of Bronxville is searching for a Senior Minister with your friends and acquaintances, and encourage candidates to apply.
Q: Who do I contact if I have further questions?
Message from The Reverend Dr. Kenneth Ruge, March 15, 2016
It is with great affection and gratitude that I announce my retirement from the position of Senior Minister at The Reformed Church as of August 15, 2016. When I was called as your minister in 2009, it was with the mutual understanding that I would serve for seven years until reaching retirement age (66). That time has arrived.
My time here has been an exciting one of expansion, reorganization and growth for our church. Our various ministries, including mission, music, youth, congregational care and life, education and worship, have grown in terms of volunteer numbers and level of engagement. Our church has become more diverse, drawing members from our surrounding communities. Our contemporary worship service on Sunday evening has continued to attract many new people. We have become a center for creative ministry while honoring our wonderful, time-tested traditions. Perhaps most importantly, this has all been accomplished within a context of consensus and kindness.
Susan and I are excited to experience the next chapter that God has in mind for us. We hope to spend more time with one another and our three adult children, Kirsten, Edmund and Amanda. I am sure this new chapter in our lives will involve travel, study and more time for friendship. Our plan at present is to live somewhere in Westchester.
There are so many things I am grateful for at our wonderful church—most of all, the people. We have so many talented, loving members who have lent their expertise, support and time to our ministries. Also, I am fortunate to have been a part of an amazing staff—fellow clergy, professional musicians, mission staff, educators, administrators and custodians. They work hard and care deeply about this church. I will be eternally grateful for the warm heartedness, encouragement and hospitality extended to me, my family and to all who come here.
I am confident that our church will continue to thrive with such talent, commitment and enthusiasm. Between now and August 15, I hope I can make a connection with each of you personally to extend my appreciation and care. We have a church and a Christian community of which we can all be proud.
Very shortly expect to receive a letter from our Elder’s Council discussing this transition and next steps.
With every blessing and good wish,
Dr. Kenneth Ruge
Message from the Consistory and from the Chair of the Personnel Committee, March 17, 2016
While Ken’s letter announcing his retirement will have come as a surprise to many of you, we know you will give thanks with us for the blessings of his ministry these past seven years. Our church has thrived under his leadership. As an inspired preacher, a creative leader and a trusted counselor he has fulfilled his role as Senior Minister with great distinction.
We rejoice with Ken that he looks forward to retirement with enthusiasm and anticipation, and we will plan to celebrate his ministry with us when the church year resumes in September.
The church is blessed with a staff that is gifted, loyal and congenial, as well as volunteers in all our program areas who are dedicated and enthusiastic. Ken will work faithfully with staff and Consistory to ensure continuity and spiritual integrity.
Consistory will appoint a Search Committee, whose first task will be to identify criteria for new leadership. To discern what God has in mind for our church, the Committee will review and update the findings and recommendations of the Strategic Planning Committee three years ago; and will reach out to you, eager to hear your thoughts and ideas and to understand your current needs and concerns.
Ours is a church blessed in many, many ways. While change is always challenging, we are confident that God will uphold us as we explore the new path that He has set before us. Please join us in prayer as our church begins this journey.
Yours in Christ,
Dale Walker, Vice President of Consistory
Elinor Urstadt, Chairman of the Personnel Committee
Message from The Reverend Cari Pattison, May 1, 2016
Dear Church Community,
“There is a time for everything, and a season to every purpose under heaven.”
We’re familiar with these words from Ecclesiastes, but no one ever wants a good season to end. And the occasion of Dr. Ruge’s retirement marks the end of an especially good season.
Of all the bosses and managers I’ve worked for in a variety of jobs, never have I worked for someone as encouraging, engaging, and even-keeled as Ken. He is a thoughtful Christian, a wise advisor, and a colleague and friend I admire. I feel blessed and grateful to have learned from him, and to have had the chance to grow under his leadership.
While we will all miss Ken, I believe our church’s future is bright and I trust that God is already preparing our next Senior Minister, and us for their ministry.
In the meantime, it is important that the transition season be one of purpose and blessing. I am honored to serve as Acting Head of Staff during the interim, and look forward to helping shepherd our church and staff during this time. This will be a short-term appointment, as I have requested that I not be considered for the position of long-term Senior Minister.
This summer I will be attending two weeks of training in transitional ministry leadership, in a respected continuing education program of the Presbyterian Church (USA). I look forward to the insights I will gain there: helpful tools for facilitating a stable and positive interim period.
Even more than knowledge from a conference, I will be relying on our excellent staff and lay leaders, as well as prayer. I’d like to invite you to pray during this time, too: for our staff, consistory, congregation, and search process.
The Ecclesiastes passage above continues with these words: “God has made everything beautiful in its time.” We have enjoyed a blessed season in our church under Ken. May the season ahead offer a beauty of its own.
Thank you for your prayers and support.