Search Process for a new Senior Pastor

Interim Pastor update (from Susan Watson, moderator) (11.18.18)

The Leadership Team has hired an interim pastor and expect they’ll be able to join us in early January. They’re finishing up an interim pastorship at another church, so we’re keeping their name and details private for the time being out of respect for the search process of this other church.

There are a couple of details about having an interim pastor here at Orchard Ridge that I’d like to share:  They’ll certainly marry us, bury us, baptize our children, visit us in the hospital, and preach on Sunday morning. They may also enjoy joining us for Over 55, Friday Games Night, Work and Worship, and etc. We can all imagine what this will look like.

AND … They’ve also got special training in interim pastoring … working with us on transition. This may be a little more difficult to imagine.

Over the course of 20 years, we’ve come to expect that church looks and feels a certain way—a that way includes Winton. Once Winton leaves, what will church look like? How do we make the switch away from what we’re comfortable with and toward something new? 

Here’s where an interim pastor’s special training comes in. 
We’ll want to define our church’s purpose and identity—without Winton.
We’ll want to review our church’s history and imagine ways to move forward—with vitality and optimism.
Our interim will help us remember that we are the church and understand what this means.
Orchard Ridge is part of a wider UCC community; during a period of transition, reaffirming these denominational links can be comforting and calming. 
Our interim pastor knows strategies and activities that will help us prepare for new leadership and commit to new ministry.
There will be challenges that emerge and opportunities too— interims are trained to help us navigate these.


As I’ve become familiar with the training and the tasks an Interim serves a church in transition, I’ve been convinced that we’ll be the better for having an interim pastor working with us here at Orchard Ridge.

Update – October (Search Committee)

The Search Committee has completed our round of brainstorming/listening sessions, answering the questions; What attracts you and keeps you coming to ORUCC? What major societal trends do you see over the next few years and how should our church respond to them? What do you think
God is calling our church to become over the next few years?
We talked to 94 adult members of the congregation including small group brainstorming
sessions and meetings with members of the various church ministries. We also met with 11 high school and four middle school youth. In addition, we have met with most staff members and
those meetings will be completed this month.
Thank you to all who have participated in this process as it has been a very rich experience hearing from you about what’s important to you about the faith community of ORUCC and your hopes for the future. Our next task is to review what we have learned and describe it in various narrative sections of the Church Profile. In addition to describing who we are, what the future may bring and God’s presence in all this, your input has helped us create a vision of the type of leadership we are looking for.
We are also gathering information for the financial and salary parts of the profile. We will be working on completing the profile through October and November and perhaps into
December. If you were not able to participate in any of the small group sessions, we would still value your input on these questions or other information you would like us to have. Or if you have
any other questions, contact any of the members of the Search Committee below.
Mary Bucknell, Dana Robbins, Barbara Stretchberry, Brian Lancor, Chris Thomas, Doug Piper, Kim Kaspar and Sara Roberts.

Update – September 30 (from Moderator Susan Watson)

I have a few updates for you—work we’ve been doing on the Leadership Team in recent weeks.

I’d like to begin by talking about hiring an interim pastor.

Having an interim pastor is standard and normal. We’ll have one here at Orchard Ridge when Winton leaves.

Interims are trained to work with congregations on transitioning away from the pastor who has left and preparing for the next pastor to come. Our interim pastor will have taken special training and focus on the transition needs of our church. I was surprised and pleased to hear that there is a group of pastors who focus their career’s work on helping churches move through the process of saying goodbye to a beloved pastor and preparing for someone new.

We can expect our interim pastor to make an assessment of needs (Our needs might best be described as mourning the conclusion of a decades-long thriving pastorate) and then help us through  this process. They will also attend to all the expected pastoral responsibilities of the church: preaching, pastoral care, administering church business, and etc.

The Leadership Team has convened a group—a second smaller search committee—to find and hire an interim pastor. We’re blessed with tremendous support from our state conference. They’ve got templates and documents and protocols for us to use and follow. Joanne Thomson, associate conference pastor, is working with us and supporting us through this process. She’s experienced and skillful. I’m glad we’ve got her support.

Our team has met, reviewed the search process, looked at the hiring documents and personalized them for our situation and church. We’ve received some candidate profiles and will meet to review them in the next week or so. We’ll choose the best ones and conduct interviews. We’ll make a recommendation to the Leadership Team. The Leadership Team will select our church’s interim.

Our hope is to hire an interim later this fall and have them ready to begin working with us in January.


Next update … Debbie Bauerkemper, our office manager is retiring this winter. So—guess what? another small search team has been created.

They’ve created a 3/4 time position called office administrator. This person will manage the day-to-day administrative and financial aspects of the church office, including financial stuff, administrative support, day to day tasks, calendar, record-keeping, and etc.

We’re ready to advertise for an office administrator this month and hopefully hire someone by December … with time for some overlap with Debbie so they can share and talk and hand off the job as seamlessly as possible.


Another need we have is for someone to coordinate communications for us: digital and print communications to members of our congregation and to the wider community. Our web presence and social media needs have been handled by Winton, as we know. We can’t expect that our next senior pastor will have the same facility with this work—it’s not a skill set that we’re putting at the top of our list of criteria in the selection process anyway. So this team created a new position called Communications Coordinator—about 15 hours a week. We’d like to hire someone with a savvy for these things and have them work with us and help us develop a vision for our online presence. This is a position that we hope to advertise sometime in the new year.


Finally, any time there’s a transition, anxieties arise. We’ve clearly got our share of transitions coming up, so I’m sure there will be times when we feel anxious ourselves or see anxiety in our friends. Let’s remember—We are fortunate to have a strong healthy congregation here at Orchard Ridge. We are here for each other. I ask you to join me, Please work intentionally on maintaining our strong community, take responsibility to help each other celebrate things that go well, buoy each other up when spirits flag, seek answers to questions that arise, and let’s look forward to what God is calling us to be.

Update:  September 9th

The Search Committee has spent the summer engaging with small groups in the congregation around three essential questions.  They will wrap up this process in September.

The Leadership Team has formed an interim search committee that is working with our Wisconsin Conference UCC staff to secure an interim pastor beginning early in 2019.

Update:  April 11, 2018  Pastoral Search Committee approved

The congregation approved a Pastoral Search Committee after worship on Sunday, April 8. The team will be chaired by Sara Roberts. Additional team members include Mary Bucknell, Dana Dobbins, Kim Kaspar, Brian Lancor, Doug Piper, Barbara Stretchberry, and Chris Thomas. Their charge is to lead the congregation through a UCC defined process to call a new Senior Pastor when Winton Boyd completes his tenure with us on January 6, 2019.

We will bless their work and their journey together in worship on April 22, and Sara Roberts will offer a mission moment to update you on how they are beginning their work.

Update:  March 21, 2018
The Leadership Team is calling a Congregational Meeting after worship on Sunday, April 8 for the purpose of ratifying a Senior Pastor Search Committee.  Information on that committee is forthcoming.  If you have questions, please contact Moderator Susan Watson –
March 4, 2018
Dear Members and Friends of Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ,
I’ve known about Winton Boyd’s decision to resign for a few weeks now. As someone who had a long and successful career myself, someone who knew when it was time to step out and pursue other opportunities, I smiled for Winton when I heard his news. Transitioning from one time in my life to another has been rich with experience; Winton will certainly enjoy this next part of his life journey. At the same time, I felt sad … for the end of his tenure here with us. I felt curious … wondering what God will have in store for us. I felt grateful … knowing that we are a strong congregation, capable of moving through this transition together.
We’ve all had time to process the announcement he made in early February 2018 to resign his position as Senior Pastor. (To read his full announcement – see below) Some may be wondering what’s happened since Winton’s announcement and what happens next. I’d like to give you an update on the work that’s occurred since Winton’s announcement and an overview of our next steps.
Here are some things for you to know:
  • Tammy Martens and Ken Pennings will continue in their Associate Pastor positions through the transition; neither of them is interested in the Senior Pastor position.
  • A Search Committee will be formed to find and call a Senior Pastor to our church.
  • Winton will continue to serve as our pastor through 2018. His last Sunday with us will be January 6, 2019.
  • Winton will not have a role in the search process, and once a Search Committee is formed, neither will the Leadership Team.
  • Associate Conference Minister, Joanne Thomson, will be the primary support for the Search Committee as well as contact person with the Wisconsin Conference UCC. We are blessed to have her guidance and support.
  • Discussion of interim ministry will be deferred until Fall 2018.
  • While the Search Committee does its work, Winton and the Leadership Team will focus on the health and vitality of our church. We’ve got a full year of church ahead of us, and we’ve got a pastor’s tenure to celebrate … we’ll be busy and active and focused on these important matters.
In the coming weeks, I ask you to consider, think about, and pray for the formation of this Search Committee, the work it will do over the coming months, and the future of our church. I ask you to talk with each other about serving on this Search Committee and to nominate members who are willing to make the commitments needed for the good of our church.
It’s our time to pull together as a people of God, finding ways to build a stronger community during this transition, and looking forward to the next part of our faith journey.
Susan Jane Watson, Moderator (