Five Commitments for Search Committees



A Faith Commitment:  The task of the Search Committee is very simple and very complex. Initially the task is spiritual. Search Committee members make a faith commitment to develop as faith-centered, prayer-directed people of God willing to listen to God in the process of seeking a new pastor. Search Committee members engage in a 4-Way Covenant—a Covenant with their prospective pastor, the congregation, the Conference and Association, and the Holy Spirit.

A Time Commitment: Search Committee members make a time commitment. By the time the search process is completed (from first organizational meeting to the calling of a new pastor) the committee may have been working together for as little as 9  months or as long as 18-24 months. Initially most Search Committees meet weekly. Once committees begin considering pastoral profiles and scheduling interviews, the frequency of meetings increase.  At times the Search Committee must travel to hear prospective pastors preach. All  in all, it is a significant time commitment.

A Commitment to Confidentiality: Search Committee members make a commitment to confidentiality. Members must not talk about the content of their work. That is to say, the sharing of names of individuals under consideration is a serious breach of process. Even to speak in generalities about location or experience or gender can risk folks guessing who the committee is considering. The congregation must be kept informed at every step of the process. Sharing where the Search Committee is in the process is critical. However, until a final candidate is presented, all conversation about any candidates is closely guarded.

A Commitment to Openness: Search Committees make a commitment to genuine consideration of all candidates. The commitment involves understanding that the gifts, skills, and experience of candidates are primary in determining their ability to serve the congregation.

A Commitment to Consensus: Finally, Search Committee members make a commitment to consensus. Members need to be of one mind in recommending their prospective pastor to the congregation. Any unreadiness on the part of any member of the Search Committee can and often does spell disaster down the road. Everyone must be able, with a clear and positive conscience, to support and endorse the individual presented before the Congregation.



Joanne Thomson Meets With Search Team


Associate Conference Minister for the Southwest Association Joanne Thomson met with Olivet’s newly formed pastoral search committee on Monday, February 1, introducing the team members to the United Church of Christ search protocol. She first went through the five commitments critical to search committees outlined elsewhere in this newsletter. She also walked the team members through the Covenant which the UCC requests that search committees understand, agree to and that the chair of the search committee sign before the search can officially begin.


That two-page Covenant is available by contacting the church office, which  states clearly what the Southwest Association of the Wisconsin Conference of the United Church of Christ and Olivet Congregational United Church of Christ pledge to one another in faith. Thomson emphasized the covenantal relationship that will be established once the document is agreed to and which will also be signed by her as Olivet’s conference liaison to the search process. While a contract is a legal document based on law, a covenant is based on grace and built on love, understanding and mutual accountability.


It is important that all members of Olivet read and understand both the Search Committee commitments as well as the Covenantal agreement that speaks to and for all of us as members of this congregation.


Thomson also emphasized that consensus is critical to the search process as the committee embarks on its task of finding a new pastor. Building Olivet’s profile is a crucial first step in that search and one that will ask for every member’s input and understanding.


The members of the Search Committee are listed below, a team that is fully and enthusiastically representative of us as a church family. That ten people have agreed to serve is a strong indication of this congregation’s faith in its future and its determination to survive.


Beth Hellpap—Secretary, Angie Fogarty, Carol Black, Rick Schilling, Mike Kenevan,David Nerswick—Chair,

Alice Schmidt, Otto Henning—Chaplain, Bonnie Schoenherr, Kyle Marquardt


The search committee will report monthly to the Council and frequently to the congregation at large. As in the past, monthly Olivet Council meetings are open to all members.


Want to Know More About the UCC Pastoral Search Process?

Go to


Wisconsin UCC Congregations Seeking Pastors


Currently, there are 19 Wisconsin UCC congregations seeking either full or part time pastors, the most of any state. To view sister churches seeking pastoral leadership, go to and Wisconsin Conference Ministry Opportunities - then click on Listing. There you may view search information for individual churches, such as salary, provisions for housing, and a description of the ministry being offered.


You may also review pertinent pastoral search information such as the 2016 Cash Salary Table and the Clergy Compensation Guidelines Booklet, both of which are available on the website’s homepage. This is information your Search Committee will be considering over the coming months.