Dear Church Members,
Grace and Peace to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We pray this letter finds you with a heart full of gratitude and trust in your journey of faith. It certainly is a season of change at First Congregational Church of Appleton (FCUCC). The Apostle Paul speaks about change in 2 Corinthians which is paraphrased here, saying from now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view. See everything has become new! All this is from God who has given us the ministry of reconciliation and entrusted this message to us. Paul was challenging the Corinthian church to experience his ministry and the works of Christianity through trusting and faithful hearts. This was his point – we all share together in this ministry because we are all ambassadors of the Christian faith and of our particular church. To this end we want to communicate some basic information that you can count on as a firm foundation for our life together and the future ahead.
1. First, our church has called Rev. Dr. Susan Cartmell to serve as our Interim Senior Pastor. Pastor Susan will be working part-time, remotely, to cover important Head of Staff functions through the summer until joining us in-person and full-time August 28th. At that time Susan will become the primary preacher until her tenure here ends. There will be opportunities to meet her, virtually, in the near future.
2. Neither Pastor Nick nor Pastor Laurie will be serving as Interim Head of Staff. They have different callings, and we need them focused on their respective ministries for the purposes of rebuilding and re-energizing our congregation post covid. It is also appropriate that neither of our Associate Pastors assume Head of Staff roles in lieu of Steve’s retirement, such as being the primary preacher. Staff needs time to process Pastor Steve’s retirement, as do the members and friends of the church.
3. For the next eight weeks in summer worship, Pastor Nick or Laurie (or both!) will prepare and lead worship. For preaching we will have a mixture of guest preachers and sermons led by Vandersall Collective who are both ordained pastors.
4. At the invitation of Church Council, Vandersall Collective will be on-site for most of the month of July. Their purpose is to help us move forward with our important visioning work, equip and inspire our church and its leadership for our work ahead, and help research important information that is necessary for decision making. Their work will be highly relational and equipping. They will not be making decisions for us nor exerting undue influence in our visioning process. There are more specifics about Vandersall’s work and some FAQ in an attached sheet at https://files.constantcontact.com/…/975d27ed-d728-4491….
5. Vandersall Collective is being hired on a temporary consulting basis. They will not be assuming any temporary Head of Staff duties nor be considered for any permanent pastoral leadership positions at FCUCC.
6. There will be a weekly reflection time, after worship July 10, 17 and 24 where we as a church can bring our questions and reflect on emerging core values explored in sermon times.
7. The Settled Senior Pastoral Search team is hard at work meeting weekly and putting together the Church’s Profile and establishing a Position Description. Our visioning work with our consultants will provide critical information for the Settled Senior Pastor Search Team. They hope to be advertising our Senior Pastor position by this fall. The shortest reasonable time frame until we have a permanent Senior Pastor is one year.
8. Council, Vandersall Collective and our lay team collaborating with them are committed to giving frequent updates so please check the bulletin and read your mid-week eblast.
There much going on and there is a lot of change taking place; but there are also things that we can count on that will stay the same. We can count on the continuation of a ministry that has lasted for over 150 years to be an inclusive and progressive light to the Fox Valley. We can count on wonderful worship and music, meaningful service and fellowship, a talented and devoted staff, a strong Children’s and Youth Ministry, and a dedicated Church Council at the helm. We can count on our Interim Pastor Susan Cartmell to help steady our community and prepare us for the next new chapter.
In everything, we pray that we are honoring your individual role as an ambassador of faith with clear communication and upholding our congregational structure. We pray that even though some things about our future are unknown, we all take heart in the firm foundation that is in place that is The Church of the Open Door. We pray that as we move forward, we do so full of gratitude, trust, allowing opportunities for voices to be heard and questions to be raised, and room for the Spirit to Work. For this is our ministry of reconciliation to which we have been entrusted. Praise God for the ministry and mission of First Congregational!
In Faith and Trust,
The Church Council