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February 2020 Update

While this past February was sadly the driest on record in terms of precipitation for the state of California, let us encourage you that our work as members of the Pastor Nominating Committee has been anything but dry!  The work is interesting, plentiful, and rich in relationships, both internally among our group members, and with our candidates.

Process:  We are currently meeting twice a week to accommodate our workload.  February brought the start of meeting with candidates in person, even as we continue to review any new applications that come our way.  We have been so blessed by the depth of conversation and the connection we have shared with our candidates.

Timeline:  We still hope to have this process wrapped up by Summer 2020, which is rapidly approaching!


  • Pray for our congregation, that each member would come to a place of openness to Christ’s best for our church, even though none of us (including the PNC members) know what that will be at this time.
  • Please lift each candidate (though unknown to you) to God, asking that God will encourage, inspire, protect, and shower love on each one as they go through this process.
  • Pray for the PNC’s stamina, wisdom, and discernment in each new step that we take as a team.

January 2020 Update

In this first month of 2020, we recognize the continued need for discernment around “call and fit” as we deepen relationships with candidates.  We return again to one of the guiding documents we have consulted: On Calling a Pastor (2015). In assessing fit it notes:

Choosing the right person to serve as pastor is the ultimate goal for the PNC. Making this choice will take patience, good process, and spiritual discernment. The person you might assume is the right person for the call could well be the wrong person to serve the congregation at this time. Understanding where the congregation is in its life cycle will help you discern the type of leader you need. Additionally, having a good understanding of the congregation’s history, cultural context, demographics, finances, mission, and vision for the future is important in choosing new leadership. We strongly encourage you to be open to God’s call as you make your choices among prospective pastors.

The phrase call and fit refers to the person with the right experience, gifts, and credentials for the position. To say a person has the right fit for a position means that the person also has compatible theology, values, ministry goals, economic needs, and chemistry, as well as the right disposition to serve a particular congregation.

Process:  We continue to seek clarity in our thinking as we converse with various candidates, who are at various stages of the interview process, asking the God of all wisdom to guide us in our listening, our speaking, our asking and our deliberations. May the Lord of all creation inspire and lead us!

Timeline:  As much as it depends on us, we continue to strive to have the process wrapped up by Summer 2020.

Prayer:  We are grateful for the extraordinary people with whom we are in conversation.  Please pray for each candidate, that God would draw near to each one, giving them strength and clarity during this time of discernment and uncertainty.

December 2019 Update

We entered into the time of waiting of Advent, the restless expectation for the coming of the promised one, who will set things right, who will restore all things, and reminded ourselves that truly we are waiting for Him. That is the context of our search process for the next senior pastor. We follow Him as we seek to “love concretely, even when it is risky.” We patiently and diligently discern God’s call for a person who can wisely lead us into deeper love and greater trust.

Process: We continue to review candidates on a rolling basis, having evaluated now upwards of 150 applicants. For those who have met the screening criteria and whose sermons have struck a chord, we have initiated initial conversations to further explore compatibility. With a much smaller group, we have conducted a series of video interviews. This is a process of mutual discernment by both the candidates and the PNC.  The objective of these conversations is to evaluate who might be the best fit for leading us forward at this time.

Timeline:  We are striving, as much as is within our control, to have the process wrapped up by Summer 2020.

Prayer:  We invite you to pray along with us as go deeper in our relationships with specific candidates and we seek God’s wisdom for our community.


With 10 months of meetings and deliberations behind us, we are both encouraged by the response and daunted by the discernment challenge!

We’ve evaluated over 140 names and screened them down, and are continuing to evaluate additional candidates as they come in.

The PNC evaluation process consists of several steps:

  1. Screening with objective criteria, including education, ordination status, and years of relevant experience.
  2. Screening on the basis of subjective criteria to assess the nature of the experience and evaluate sermons for content, style, and “fit.”
  3. Those making it through this screening process are then invited to a series of conference calls addressing standardized questions. The conference calls are the beginning of the process to help the candidate and the PNC mutually assess fit. If at any point during this process it is determined that there is not a fit, then that person would drop out of the process.

At this point we have met with several candidates for first and second conference calls. We are scheduling others for this phase of the assessment process, even as additional prospective candidate names have been emerging.

Please pray for continued discernment, clarity, and life balance for the PNC and also for the prospective candidates, one of whom will become the next senior pastor to lead us forward into the next chapter of our life together!


We have been busy! We’re so very grateful for the strong response we have received with over 130 names coming our way through a) the Church Leadership Connection, b) leader networking conversations and c) referrals from our First Pres congregation. This has meant lots of reading and listening to many sermons.

The breadth of experience and the depth of insight these individuals possess is exciting. Thanks be to God for such leaders in the Church!

Of course, that brings us the challenge: how to narrow down the pool of potential candidates so we can proceed with the next phase: preliminary interviews. We are keenly aware of this challenge and ask God for discernment and wisdom as we consider our congregation and its context, both present and future, and seek to assess the best fit for the person we will call to be our next senior pastor.

May we all have open and trusting hearts ready to receive what God has in store for us for the One we follow “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:19-21).


Session and Presbytery Committee on Ministry approved our church’s Ministry Information Form (MIF) on March 19 and April 11, respectively.

This is the second completed step in our 5-step plan. The MIF provides a narrative picture of the mission and ministry of First Pres and our sense of call. Prospective pastors will use the MIF to begin discerning whether God is calling them to First Pres.

Step 3, Identify Candidates, is our next major undertaking. It will involve both receiving applications through the PC(USA) Church Leadership Connection (CLC) and actively seeking out candidates.

Refer to our FAQ for answers to many of your questions or contact the PNC at pnc@fpcberkeley.org.

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