Ok, so making alterations in a congregation’s bylaws might not be the most exciting thing to think about. But in order for us to focus on God’s mission of bringing grace and hope to those in need, sometimes we’ve got to focus on the stuff below the surface that makes the rest of it possible. Editing our bylaws is that kind of thing.
Our goal: To call the best possible Associate Pastor for Trinity.
The problem: In 2008, our bylaws were edited to say that any future Associate Pastors that would be called to Trinity would receive a “Term Call.” A Term Call is a call that is set to last a specified term. It could be 1 year, it could be 3 years, 5 years or 20 years. At the end of that term, the call would expire and the congregational council could renew the call, or the pastor could be forced to leave. The congregational council would have the ability to determine the length of the term. (Pastors Dean and Julie were both already on our staff at this point. These bylaw changes wouldn’t apply to them, only to any new associate pastors that Trinity called.)
I wasn’t around when this edit to the bylaws was made. The intent was (as I understand it) to create a way to gracefully end a call if there were problems or issues in the pastor’s work or relationships. It would be a way of making a change while hopefully avoiding congregation-wide conflict.
However, the reality is that it is much, much harder to find candidates for a “term call” than for an “open call.” Pastors who might otherwise be interested in Trinity would not put their names into consideration. There are several reasons for this:
- Pastors would be hesitant to uproot one’s family and move to a new community if there was a chance that in just a few years they might need to relocate again.
- Pastors often feel like a congregation extending a term call isn’t really committed to them.
- “Term Calls” often feel to pastors like “extended probationary periods” and pastors feel like they are needing to please people instead of focusing on good ministry.
- A term call often feels like a red-flag to a potential candidate, who will naturally wonder “what kind of conflict has there been here in the past that forced them to create this term call?”
For all of these reasons, term calls are very rare in congregations. I’ll be very honest with you, if I were asked to consider a congregation with a term call, I probably wouldn’t become a candidate.
I am very concerned that if we continue our call process with the term call still in our bylaws, we will significantly reduce the number of good, quality candidates that we have to consider.
The solution: Actually it’s very simple. Through a majority vote, the congregation can edit our bylaws to remove the language that dictates that our call be a term call. Trinity has good measures and leadership in place to help us if we ever do encounter a situation where there are performance or conflict issues. We quite simply don’t need this clause, and we want to be able to work with the broadest and best slate of candidates possible.
On October 12th, following the 9:45am worship service in the Sanctuary, we will hold a brief congregational meeting with two items on the agenda:
- Vote on a recommendation from our congregational council to eliminate the “Term Call” language from our bylaws, and;
- Introduce and bless our new Call Committee so that they can begin their work in seeking our next Associate Pastor.
If you have any questions about this, please don’t hesitate to contact me.