By Chris Bohnhoff
While many things have been made more difficult over the past two months, the search committee has made considerable progress. After collecting nearly 30 applicants over a three-month period, the position closed to new candidates in late March. From that pool, we interviewed eight candidates then selected three candidates with whom to proceed to second-round interviews.
As a committee, in all of our interviews, we have worked hard to hold in mind all of the requirements held in the Lead Minister job description: from preaching ability, spiritual leadership and an appreciation of the arts as a pathway to the divine, to staff and budget administration, to growth, a passion for social justice and civic leadership.
The candidate pool overall was strong and diverse, and our second-round candidates are dynamic, highly intelligent and qualified to lead. We are excited and inspired by our remaining candidates.
Through March, we stayed miraculously on our schedule to have a preferred candidate to bring for a congregational vote in June, but COVID-19 has necessitated extra time, both in terms of adjusting to social distancing and taking some time for the church community to live into these unprecedented circumstances.
Our work now is to deepen our understanding of the remaining candidates and to continue discerning how to move faithfully towards calling our next leader in a distanced world. In truth, every search is a venture into an unknown future. Not being able to convene large groups will require creativity as we proceed towards a congregational vote, but being Plymouth, we are not at a creativity deficit! Our search work is the culmination of several years of faithful, intentional examination of our community and planning for a future that was already in flux. We honor that body of work by looking hopefully forward, doing our best to hold all of you in mind in our evaluation of candidates and planning a process that does everything possible to create a path to a successful transition—which must include every effort to introduce our preferred candidate, when that person is identified, to the community.
We are doing this work on behalf of all of Plymouth and continue to be grateful for your trust and patience. Many thanks to our amazing lay leadership, both past, and present, to Paula for her leadership and support and to Beth and Seth for all of their efforts in these past months to hold us together in these incredibly stressful times. Also, my deep gratitude for the continuing work of the search committee, a group of incredibly insightful, dedicated people whose diversity of opinion has brought balance to our evaluations and discernment.
Our love and prayers are with all of you, and with all that is Plymouth. If you have questions, please contact us at search(at)plymouth.org.