Dear Members and Friends of FCC,

As I’ve stated previously and celebrated, we are experiencing a renewal at our church. So many signs of renewed life and energy! Wonderful!

I write to share a Board approved proposal to support that renewal:

Establish a part time (30 hours/week), 2 year designated term Associate Minister position and call Mark Lindberg to that position.

The Youth Minister position would be retired and, with Mark’s ongoing support, Family Ministries would restructure its programs with strengthened lay leadership. Mark is fully supportive of this proposal and would remain the staff person supporting our laity in Family Ministries.

There are multiple reasons to pursue this proposal.

First, I can tell you from my experience here and at other congregations that a congregation of 400 is too big for one ordained minister. While the building up of lay leadership including some who can help in pastoral care is helpful and appropriate, there remains a pastoral ministry ‘gap’ in terms of needs for a congregation of this size, especially given our recent resurgence. We need more pastoral capacity in worship planning and preaching, in pastoral care, and in broader ministries to continue moving forward. Candidates for the settled Lead Pastor position will be discouraged by a lack of pastoral help and would likely burn out in a short time without more pastoral help.

The second reason is that, from my first day here, I judged that it is a great gift to this congregation that Mark Lindberg is on staff. Mark’s process as a Member in Discernment regarding ordination through the UCC Central Pacific Conference Committee on Ministry is nearing the final stage: an Ecclesiastical Council on Saturday, July 27. The CPC Committee on Ministry ordination review in April 2024 advanced Mark to an Ecclesiastical Council unanimously. 

Thirdly, we are not financially able to simply go hire another full-time Associate Pastor. Moving Mark into this position not only maintains stability for the new Lead Pastor and keeps Mark’s many gifts for ministry here at FCC, but allows us to stay on the road toward a balanced budget because this Associate Minister move was an anticipated possibility and funds for it are already in the approved 2024 budget.  

The 2 year designated term is meant to allow flexibility for the incoming Lead Pastor and for Mark to determine how good their fit is and for church leadership and the new Lead Pastor to gain the results of a future staffing assessment and strategic visioning. The designated term would allow all parties a designated opportunity for change, if needed.

Approving such a proposal is a matter for the whole congregation. The Board will call a special congregational meeting on Sunday, August 25 after worship to vote on the question of calling Mark Lindberg as a part-time Associate Minister on a designated term basis. Discussions on this proposal have been happening quietly among church leaders for months, leading to full support from the Board to move in this direction. Yet, it is still up to the whole Body of Christ, the members of First Congregational, to discern and vote.

Informational sessions on this Associate Minister proposal will be convened this summer to answer questions and any concerns; click the button below to view the position description. A vote in the positive would, if Mark becomes eligible for ordination after his Ecclesiastical Council on July 27, authorize the Central Pacific Conference to schedule a service of ordination and installation for Mark at FCC in the fall.

In sum, I believe that FCC needs to increase its ordained ministerial capacity and has the financial wherewithal to do it in this way; I believe Mark is the right person and ready to begin ordained ministry. I enthusiastically support this proposal and encourage your discernment as the members of First Congregational Church. I look forward to our discussions in the next two months.

Blessings,

Pastor JT