I am writing this note on the first day of spring, Friday, March 20. Spring officially arrives at 6:45 pm EDT this afternoon. Already there has been a total solar eclipse (visible only in Arctic latitudes) to mark the vernal equinox. I eagerly await the emergence of colorful foliage and the melting of salt-filled parking-lot snow-packs (“wintry-mix”)—which is surely not far behind.
A rare opportunity is on the horizon for People’s Church. You can expect that the Ministerial Search Committee will be sending out a special announcement to each member in early April. I cannot predict what or who they may announce; I am as eager as you are to hear the results of their past year of dedicated work. In the event that the Search Committee announces the name of their candidate for your settled ministry, I want to offer a few short hints for welcoming your candidate during the week-long period of meet-and-greet (scheduled for Sunday, April 26 through Sunday, May 3).
First: A special message to all stakeholders in People’s Church (voting members, friends, parents of kids in R.E., occasional guests, musicians, small-group enthusiasts, etc.): If you consider yourself to be a stakeholder in the church—under any designation at all—please complete your signed pledge card for the 2015-2016 church year. The campaign ends officially on March 29, and our goal is 100% participation of all stakeholders. This achievement will be the most important indicator of the Church’s readiness to move ahead decisively in collaboration with your new minister.
Second: Be sure to thank members of the Search Committee at every opportunity. Each of them has spent hundreds of hours and traveled hundreds of miles on your behalf. Their labors have been a resounding success—over and above the particular results that they will soon be announcing to you.
Third: Some brief hints about Candidating Week itself.
(A) Candidating Week should be primarily a meet-and-greet occasion. It is not the time to conduct or to anticipate church business for the coming year. In all likelihood the Candidate will still be on-duty as minister at another church or location through the summer of 2015. They should not be expected to absorb or to deal with issues at People’s Church at this stage. Imaginative possibility-thinking is fair enough; however, any planning-and-deciding would be premature. Only after the vote-to-call is completed, on Sunday, May 3rd, might some limited planning be in order.
(B) Remember the two questions from our Stewardship campaign, which I posed on Sunday, March 1: “What’s your passion?” and “When are you at your best?” If you are wondering about a suitable conversation topic with the Candidate (or with their spouse / kids), these two question might offer a helpful starting-point.
(C) Celebrate and share the magnificence of having chosen southwest Michigan as your home. Tell intriguing stories of kayaking, lighthouse-hopping, cross-country skiing, archeological digs, pub-crawling, roller-blading, bungee-jumping, or competitive accordion-playing. Inspire your candidate (and their spouse / kids) that they will be overjoyed in choosing Kalamazoo as their new home.
During Candidating Week, I will be with the other 50+ UU Interim Ministers at our annual retreat. I will remain on call for pastoral emergencies, but will not have any dealings at all with Candidating Week or the congregation’s decision.
One more opportunity—centering on this question: What topics would you be most eager to have scheduled as a focus on Sundays? This is your chance to include your favorites on the program: Our Sunday Services Committee meets on Monday, March 30 at 7:00 pm to brainstorm a list of suggested topics and speakers for upcoming summer services. Who do you know at WMU or Kalamazoo College or elsewhere nearby who would bring to us a compelling and thought-provoking message? We enthusiastically welcome your participation in this brainstorming session—even if you don’t want to be on the Sunday Services Committee. Our goal will be to list priority-topics and suggested speakers, and to delegate follow-up contacts, so that we can fill the Summer Services calendar shortly thereafter. Come join us on Monday, March 30th at 7:00 pm, at the church.
Finally, my thanks to all who have supported my wife Diann and me, while Diann continues her rehabilitation from recent knee surgery. Those wishing to send her a note or card may use this address:
Diann Johnson, Room 111,
Nottingham Health and Rehabilitation Center
14200 West 134th Place
Olathe, KS 66062
Well, it’s time to get ready for this evening’s “Classics Uncorked” musical by the Kalamazoo Symphony, to be held at the Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts. This is yet another splendid event among gazillions of year-round cultural signposts in this remarkable community.
See you in church.
Rev. Dave Johnson,
Interim Minister, 2014-2015