New Minister Search


Per the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) protocol, FPCG currently has an interim senior minister, Rev. Mark Montgomery, who will serve until a full-time pastor is selected. Also on our pastoral staff are Associate Minister Andre Castillo,  Director of Children's Ministries Ellie Strathdee and Director of the Children's Choir and Handbell Choir Heather Antonissen. See below for an update on the search from the Pastoral Nominating Committee (PNC.)

From beaches to the bucolic backcountry (and just a 50-minute train ride  to NYC for work or play!), Greenwich has much to offer its residents. Our school system gets high marks, as do our parks, restaurants, shops, varied neighborhoods, and cultural events for all ages. In light of the challenging real estate market, FPCG is committed to helping find appropriate housing.



For more details, Click MIF.pdf for the full MIF.


Candidates interested in the head of staff position should submit a PIF via the CLC website.

Pastoral Nominating Committee Update

The Story of Them

September 17, 2021

The PNC is in full fledged interview mode. Knowing the value that our congregation puts on preaching, we are listening to sermons, discussing sermon styles and have even created a benchmark to answer the question — "what is a great sermon?”

Our Ministry Information Form (MIF) has been live since July 19th, almost two months as of this writing. It has been viewed more than 400 times, and we have reviewed 54 candidates. 24 of these candidates have been referred by someone or have chosen to apply after reading our MIF. The latter did so because they aren't actively looking for a new call, but want to participate when an interesting opportunity arises.

We are reviewing candidates on several key measures. First, we read their Pastoral Information Forms (PIFs) and listen to their sermons. We check their current church's website for additional information. If they make it through this screening process, we set up an interview for them to meet three to four PNC members. On Zoom, the interview is recorded (with the candidate’s permission) so we can all watch and review the discussion. Participating PNC members score the candidates and recommend if we move them forward to a second round interview.

The second round involves the full committee with special emphasis on PNC members that didn't join the first interview guiding the discussion. Again, we score the candidate and recommend if they should proceed further. Small group conversations comprise the next steps. We have found it is a little easier to “peel the onion” and get into the details with a more intimate group of two to three PNC members. Again, these conversations are recorded for the benefit of the others in the group to evolve their understanding of the candidate synchronously.

We currently have a handful of really strong candidates, equally split between men and women.

It is a diverse group of people, and their differences will serve to sharpen our decision making process. Given the months of hard work that we have put in, we have all been looking forward to the interview process, and it has certainly lived up to expectations. It seems that each candidate helps to uncover a new angle to pursue with other applicants or underscores a preference that we have in our search.

We are navigating the balance of science and the art of recruiting/hiring. There are quantifiable elements that can indicate strong leadership such as growth of membership, Sunday school attendance and budgets. At the same time, there are personality styles and impressions that are created from the first interaction that play into our shared decision making. The bottom line is we are lucky to have an extremely strong and inspiring group of candidates. Our most advanced candidate in the process is on their fourth interview, and we have several that are currently being scheduled for their first interview. In short order we may shut down our search to new applicants, and it is very possible we are already talking to our next senior minister.


Finally, please remember that while we are vetting candidates, they are also vetting us. We know they are watching our services online, both current and past. They are listening to the volume of our responses, watching the number of children involved in Ellie's children's messages and are very curious about our engagement. We appreciate your prayers, support and continued commitment to our community.

Onward, FPCG PNC 

Previous Updates

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  • The Story of Us, crafting our narrative
    August 1, 2021The FPCG's Ministry Information Form (or MIF to the insiders) is complete, approved and available for the world to see, including talented ministers.  This is a major milestone on the path to finding our next Senior Minister. It is meant to say who we are, what is important to us, what skill sets we are looking for, and to clarify the job expectations.  

    We have reviewed the results of the CAT survey completed in late 2020/early 2021 by our congregation.  We have interviewed our clergy and volunteers in leadership positions.  We have had informal conversations with members of the congregation.  Here is some of what we have found.

    It is practically unanimous that everyone wants a strong preacher and teacher.  We want a leader to provide a strategic vision for our congregation.  Individually we want to belong to a community.  We like being intellectually challenged and stirred.  Some want group experiences, while others seek and prioritize individual pastoral care.  Many have joined with young children as an attempt to expose and teach their children, others join as they enter a new phase of adulthood.  Like any family, ours is one of similarities and differences.  

    Turns out that is the easy part. The trick is figuring out how much of this will actually fall upon the shoulders of our new Senior Minister.   Our own experience points to a tremendous burden on our past staff.  It turns out the model for thriving churches is having a senior minister that focuses on preaching, teaching and leading.  The daily execution on many of the other key responsibilities is done by other staff, whether they are ordained, full or part time as well as member volunteers.  After thoughtful discussion among our committee, congregation members, and session we believe this model is best for FPCG going forward.   This idea is reflected in the words chosen for our MIF.

    We are already receiving interest from candidates around the world who have reviewed our posting.   While we expect this to continue for some time, we are also networking with highly respected ministers and seminary leaders to spread the word of our need.  Our expectation is to be very busy over the next few months reviewing candidates, listening to sermons and pushing Zoom to its limits.  While we don't have a line of sight into timing of having a candidate to present to the congregation, we are certainly moving in the right direction.

    I know you are asking, "how can I help?".  Just like you are expecting us to thoroughly vet the top candidates, we need to expect the best candidates are vetting us.  As we approach the fall, it will be time for the tide to reach to new highs.  That includes worship attendance, Sunday School attendance, Vacation Bible Camp or asking our nominating committee (Emily Sternberg, chair) how you can help.  Mark, Andre and Ellie are creating momentum.  Let's enjoy this momentum together.

    Keep an eye out for another progress update in August as well as on Homecoming Sunday, which is Sunday, September 12th. 

    Thank you for your prayers and patience.  We are trusting the process, having some faith.  After all isn’t what this is all about?

    Onward,

    Chris Loveless, PNC Chair
    pnc@fpcg.org
    MIF HERE


    Michelle Binnie, Vice Chair
    Jae Cha; Carolyn Cleveland; Rachel Kelley; Terry Lohmeyer; Oscar Rodriguez; Susan Williams; Courtney Raker Spada; and Diane Brown, alternative


  • As of last Friday, the FPCG's Ministry Information Form (or MIF to the insiders) is complete, approved and available for the world to see, including talented ministers.  This is a major milestone on the path to finding our next Senior Minister. It is meant to say: who we are, what is important to us, what skillsets we are looking for and clarify the job expectations. 

     

    We have reviewed the results of the CAT survey completed in late 2020/early 2021 by our congregation.  We have interviewed our clergy and volunteers in leadership positions.  We have had informal conversations with members of the congregation.  Here is some of what we have found.

     

    It is practically unanimous; everyone wants a strong preacher and teacher.  We want a leader to provide a strategic vision for our congregation.  Individually we want to belong to a community.  We like being intellectually challenged and stirred.  Some want group experiences, while others seek and prioritize individual pastoral care.  Many have joined with young children as an attempt to expose and teach their children, others join as they enter a new phase of adulthood.  Like any family, ours is one of similarities and differences. 

     

    Turns out that is the easy part; the trick is figuring out how much of this will actually fall upon the shoulders of our new Senior Minister.   Our own experience points to a tremendous burden on our past staff.  It turns out the model for thriving churches is having a senior minister that focuses on preaching, teaching and leading.  The daily execution on many of the other key responsibilities is done by other staff, whether they are ordained, full or part time as well as member volunteers.  After thoughtful discussion among our committee, congregation members, and session we believe this model is best for FPCG going forward.   This idea is reflected in the words chosen for our MIF.

     

    We are already receiving interest from candidates around the world who have reviewed our posting.   While we expect this to continue for some time, we are also networking with highly respected ministers and seminary leaders to spread the word of our need.  Our expectation is to be very busy over the next few months reviewing candidates, listening to sermons and pushing Zoom to its limits.  While we don't have a line of sight into timing of having a candidate to present to the congregation, we are certainly moving in the right direction.

     

    I know you are asking, "how can I help?".  Just like you are expecting us to thoroughly vet the top candidates, we need to expect the best candidates are vetting us.  As we approach the fall, it will be time for the tide to ebb to new highs.  That includes worship attendance, Sunday School attendance, Vacation Bible Camp or asking our nominating committee (Emily Sternberg, chair) how you can help.  Mark, Andre and Ellie are creating momentum.  Let's enjoy this momentum together.

     

    Keep an eye out for another progress update in August as well as on Homecoming Sunday, which is Sunday, September 12th.

     

    Thank you for your prayers and patience.  We are trusting the process, having some faith.  After all isn’t what this is all about?

     

    Onward,

     

     

    Chris Loveless, PNC Chair

    pnc@fpcg.org

     

    PNC Members:

    Chris Loveless, Chair

    Michelle Binnie, Vice Chair

    Jae Cha

    Carolyn Cleveland

    Rachel Kelley

    Terry Lohmeyer

    Oscar Rodriguez

    Susan Williams

    Courtney Raker Spada

    Diane Brown, alternative

  • Fellow congregants,

     

    This is the first of what will be regular updates from your PNC.  One of our three goals is to be as transparent as possible.  While we won't give specifics on who and when we are interviewing, we will provide regular updates as to where we are in the process.  Speaking of goals, they are:


    1. Find a pastor who preaches with integrity and compassion, whose sermons are intellectually stimulating and who will inspire all groups within our congregation.  
    2. Listen to and engage with our congregation about this process.  Be transparent.
    3. Facilitate the successful onboarding of our next Pastor by partnering closely with Session and staff.


    There are nine of us plus one alternate.  We are partnering with Shelley Donaldson of First Presbyterian Church in Stamford who is our Presbytery liaison.  Our first few meetings included a “get to know each other” meeting, a discussion with Mark, a joint meeting with the Session to review the CAT survey results as well as a formal PNC training.  

     

    We are now meeting weekly on Monday evenings.  Our current objective is to gather as much information as possible so we can accurately complete the Ministry Information Form (MIF) which is required to "post" our open position for a permanent Senior Pastor.  While there is a lot of information to assess and decisions to be made prior to finalizing a MIF, perhaps the most important steps are identifying, and prioritizing skill sets that are critical for our next Senior Pastor to possess.    Once written, it goes to our Session for approval then on to the Committee on Ministry at the Presbytery for their approval. 

     

    We have broken into smaller teams tasked with specific work, such as:

    • Reviewing the CAT (survey) for data that makes it clear what we need, who we are, and just as important, what we don't need and who we aren't.  
    • Understanding what the Terms of Call will be, our housing offering and our budget for this search process. 
    • Getting feedback from the New Canaan PNC who just completed a search for a Senior Minister.

     

    As mentioned, we are driving toward completing our Ministry Information Form by mid-June so we can move to the next phase of the process - marketing our job opening.  


    We have an email address if you have any questions.  It is pnc@fpcg.org


    More to follow…