We want to address a common question about the search process: “When you give us two weeks’ notice of the vote, will you also give us the candidate’s name at that time?”
The short answer is no. The candidate’s name will be presented to the Congregation for the first time on the morning of the vote (Sunday March 29). The candidate will deliver the sermon in the morning service, after which a meeting of the membership will be held. The meeting will include a Q&A session with the candidate and his wife. After the Q&A, the candidate and his wife will leave the meeting, and the members who are present will then vote. Constitutionally, the candidate needs to receive two-thirds support.
Clearly the timing means that the membership will not have an opportunity to “vet” the candidate. So why do we hold his name back so long?
1. Logistically, it is impossible for each member to thoroughly vet the candidate. A thorough vetting process has been and is being conducted by those who you, the congregation, have elected and trusted to lead the church. Under our Constitution, this full vetting process must be completed before a candidate is presented to the congregation for a vote. Complete details about this vetting process are available here, but several highlights are important to remember.
- The Pastoral Search Committee (PSC) and the Elders worked closely with our search firm, Vanderbloemen, to perform significant background research on the candidate and his theological credentials.
- The PSC and Elders have reviewed his sermons and reference materials and have conducted many hours of personal interviews with him and his wife, both in Chicago and at his home and current church.
- The Leadership Council (LC) and Deaconesses will also review the candidate’s sermons and materials and will meet with him and his wife before the LC vote.
2. The leadership—and, we trust, the congregation!—have covered the entire process in prayer, asking God to lead us to the man He has anointed to be our next Senior Pastor. This emphasis on prayer will continue throughout the remaining steps of the process, which are described in detail here and here.
3. There is also a critical reason for carefully protecting the candidate’s identity as long as we can. We have sought a candidate who is ministering in another church but who is also open to God’s call to lead elsewhere. Our candidate has been willing to consider other options, trusting that the Lord could use this opportunity to lead him to the next assignment God has for him. But at the same time, he needs to protect the relationship he has with his current congregation, and to manage the manner and timing in which they’re told that he’s considering another position. If his name and information were to become public prematurely, it could undermine his effectiveness in his current church before the Lord has made it clear that he will be moving on. Thus, before he was willing to even begin to talk to us, we assured him that his doing so would be held in strictest confidence. We must do all we can to honor this commitment.
When you vote, your vote will be based on your trust in your elected leaders (the Elders, the Leadership Council, the Deaconesses, and those from each group on the Search Committee) and on the vetting process, rather than on your own detailed knowledge of the candidate. Even so, your role as a member is vital. On March 29, each member should ask themselves this question: is there any reason, based upon what I know about the vetting process, the church leadership, and the candidate, why I cannot vote to affirm the nomination?
If you have further questions about the process, please feel free to contact any of the Elders.