About the Process

A wooden pathway through brown grassesThe Coordinating Council has been exploring options for managing the leadership transition that will take place with Pastor Kathy’s retirement. Meetings have included Rick Wagner from the Minnesota Conference, Sarah Dean reflecting on filling in while Kathy was on medical leave, and Kathy and Leanne Ventrella who serves as chair of Human Resources committee.

Initially, we looked at all of the options available, including hiring a specific person without a broader search and hiring someone who could potentially overlap with Pastor Kathy so she could mentor this person. After considering the advice and perspectives of those we met with, we strongly recommend that we look at options that include an interim period between Kathy’s tenure and a new permanent pastor.


We will use the rest of 2019 to determine what approach to use for our interim process.  Getting congregational input, the council will make the decision on which approach to take.

In January 2020, we will start creating a search committee. What we search for will depend on which approach the council determines is the best fit for the congregation.

Option 1: Hire an Interim Pastor

Option 1: Hire an Interim Pastor

This is a more traditional approach – to have a search committee select an interim pastor. This allows time for the congregation to grieve the ending of the relationship of Kathy as our pastor – and begin to plan for new future leadership while Kathy is not present. This often is the time when changes can be addressed in a congregation, including if there needs to be a restructuring of leadership responsibilities or if there are dysfunctional dynamics.

While the interim pastor is in place, a second search committee would be established to select our permanent lead pastor.

Option 1 Timeline

The length of this interim period can vary. At the annual meeting, someone recommended to Kathy that the interim should be there with the ratio of 1 month for every year of service – which would work out to be 2.5 years for this interim. We would not need to follow that guideline if we chose this option.

The interim search committee would be initiated in January 2020 to have someone ready to start by January 2021. Sometime after January 2021, we would bring together a search committee for a permanent pastor. The timeline of that committee would be determined based on how long an interim period the council and congregation decided upon.

Option 2: Have an interim period filled by an internal team

Option 2: Have an interim period filled by an internal team

During Kathy’s sabbatical and medical leaves, we have filled the pastoral needs with resources within the congregation. We have a number of ordained people and others with pastoral training who could be approached about being part of an interim team. These people would cover weddings, funerals, pastoral care, leadership in worship, and preaching.

Option 2 Timeline

A permanent search process could be initiated in January 2020, but there would be more time to search because there would not be pressure to have someone selected by January 2021.

If we chose this option, it would most likely mean a shorter interim period. In our discussion with Kathy, she talked about how helpful it was for her to start August 1 so she had a month before the start of the program year in September to meet with members of the congregation. So, we would recommend having an interim period of a minimum of 6 months – possibly looking to have a lead pastor in place by July or August of 2021.

Pros and Cons of Each Option

Interim Pastor Option

Pros Cons
  • Might provide new leadership style that would help us envision new possibilities in pastor
  • Facilitate grieving the end of Kathy’s tenure
  • Longer interim period may be beneficial
  • Need to conduct two searches
  • Potential that people would become attached to interim and have to grieve a second time
  • Lengthens time of transition (and shortens time of overlap while office staff are committed to stay on past Kathy’s departure)
  • Number of pastors with interim experience is not large
  • Other congregations have sometimes grown attached to interim pastors

Interim Period with Internal Team Option

Pros Cons
  • Might provide new leadership styles that would help us envision new possibilities in pastor
  • Facilitate grieving the end of Kathy’s tenure
  • Only requires one search process
  • Highlights resources within Peace congregation
  • Shorter interim period may be beneficial
  • People facilitating the grieving process may themselves be grieving
  • May miss insight from having a pastor experienced with interim positions
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