Shift in Ministerial Structure

— Jeanne Strauss, Moderator

By way of reassurance, none of our pastors are currently resigning or retiring! We are, however, considering a shift in the roles and responsibilities that our clergy fill.

As you know, Rev. Molly is our Lead Minister, and Rev. Kelly and Rev. Hannah are our Associate Ministers. Going forward, Hannah’s position remains the same. Molly and Kelly have been exploring the possibility of becoming co-pastors, with no hierarchical difference between their two positions. This is not a new concept among churches and the UCC – there have been many UCC churches in the Bay Area and across the country that have embraced a co-pastoring model, some for decades.

Molly had initiated this idea with Kelly, and both Molly and Kelly brought it to Church Council in August. They described their positive working relationship, their confidence in each other as colleagues, and how well Kelly assumed lead pastor duties while Molly was on sabbatical in 2021. Kelly even became our solo pastor during that time, when Rev. Kit Novotny resigned to meet the needs of her growing family. Both Molly and Kelly are enthusiastic about potentially becoming co-pastors, and about the stability and continuity such an arrangement could bring to FCCB.

After an in-depth discussion, including around logistical and financial concerns, Church Council voted unanimously on August 22 to move forward with this concept. A small group was appointed to research the process, in order to gain a fuller understanding before bringing it to the congregation. This group includes Jeanne Strauss (Moderator), Steve Spielman (Moderator Elect), Moe Wright (Treasurer), Jennifer Nixon (Chair of Personnel Committee), and Nick Kukulan (Chair of Stewardship, Finance, & Administration Ministry), along with our pastors.

The ad hoc committee met with pastors from two other UCC churches with communities similar to ours, and heard much to recommend the co-pastoring model. We received guidance on ways to structure the process in order to avoid misunderstandings down the road. We also gathered information from our Conference Minister, Rev. Davena Jones, who has seen the model work well in local churches.

We now seek the congregation’s support to move forward with a plan for Molly and Kelly to become co-pastors of our church. If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to speak with any of the committee members, or email [email protected]. We will call a Special Congregational Meeting to vote on this at a later date. Prior to that, we can schedule a forum for discussion, if the need and desire are expressed. We trust that you’ll continue to support our pastors and ministries!