This page will contain updates on the transitional period – check back for updates.
Moderators can be reached at email@example.com
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Leadership Relations Committee – June 2021
What are the appropriate steps to follow if I have a concern regarding the Executive Leadership Team or one of its members?
- Who is the Executive Leadership Team?
The Executive Leadership Team (ELT) includes Pastor Tracey Perry as our Minister of Worship and Congregational Care, and Dan Loven-Crum as our Director of Stewardship and Vision. This is a non-hierarchical leadership model.
- Who are the lay members (congregational representatives) of the Leadership Relations Committee and what are their roles?
Emily Wadhams, Annette Sterling, Al Cardona, and Tom Scates are the congregational members of the LRC. The Leadership Relations Committee (LRC) serves the church by monitoring the ongoing relationship between the ELT and the congregation. In essence, it is a sounding board to assist the church in maintaining a healthy relationship between the congregation and the leadership and in identifying and resolving issues. They are also a support for the leaders and assist in fine tuning the Collaborative Leadership Model during this interim period.
- When should I contact the LRC?
The LRC encourages congregational members to meet directly with any member of the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) to discuss their concerns. Members of the congregation may share questions or concerns about church leadership staff members with any of the four lay members of the LRC. They will listen and assure responsiveness to those concerns. Of course, lay members of the LRC are not the only avenue of communication. Depending upon the topic, the LRC may encourage church members to take their concerns to other relevant church boards or the Church Council. If possible, we prefer that your initial contact be by email.
Lay members of the LRC, with their contact information, are listed below.
- How does the LRC serve the congregation?
The LRC serves the congregation by openly and frankly sharing issues that have been brought to its attention by fellow congregation members. At the LRC meetings, the lay members of the LRC represent the congregation and its concerns, questions, and perspectives to the full committee. The LRC also responds to issues raised by the Executive Leadership Team. The meetings provide a frank, private and confidential dialogue focused on the relationship between the Executive Leadership Team and the congregation. In this dialogue, the lay members “stand in” for the congregation since it would be impractical to have such a conversation with the entire congregation.
- Once I have shared an issue with an LRC lay member, what should I expect to happen?
First, you should expect open ears and appropriate respect for your privacy and confidentiality as noted above. An LRC lay member will first try to assess whether the issue is appropriate for the LRC. You should then expect the LRC lay member to work with you to plan how your issue is addressed–including providing you with information about what will happen next. This may include bringing it up for discussion at the LRC meeting. You will hear back from that LRC member regarding the results of the discussion, along with any follow-up plans.
The goal of the LRC is to have honest reflective discussion with the congregational member, therefore the LRC will not discuss any anonymous feedback.
The LRC lay members and their contact information:
- Emily Wadhams firstname.lastname@example.org
- Annette Sterling email@example.com
- Al Cardona firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tom Scates email@example.com
Click here for a downloadable PDF of these questions.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Interim Minister hiring process – June 2021
The following FAQ was compiled by the Countryside leadership Moderator Team and the Transition Leadership team in response to questions about the process during the transition between the resignation of Countryside’s called ministers and the hiring of the interim ministers.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The following questions were compiled by the Countryside Moderator Team and the Transition Leadership Team (TLC) in response to questions about the process during the transition between the resignation of Countryside’s called ministers and the hiring of the interim ministers.
Q: Why didn’t a search committee choose our new ministers? Isn’t that how we choose ministers per our bylaws?
A: Indeed, we choose our permanent, settled ministers through a search process and a search committee that is prescribed by our bylaws. That is the process that we will begin over the next few months. This is generally a lengthy process that includes discernment on who we are as a church, what direction our church is headed, and what attributes we need to get us there. Only after that does the actual search, candidate assessment, interview process and contract negotiation take place.
There are a couple of ways the “interim” time period, between the exit of one minister and the call of a new settled minister, have been handled by Countryside. In some cases, the church leadership feels that the current staff and remaining minister can handle things during the entire search process. The remaining minister becomes the acting senior minister during this period. In other instances, like before Eric Elnes was called as our Senior Minister, the Church Council hires an interim minister to lead the congregation during the discernment and search process. In that case, the interim was Rev. Tom Zoelzer.
One thing we want to point out, since our congregation comes from such varied denominational backgrounds, is that these decisions are made by the congregation. That is, the conference, in our case the UCC, does not have authority to “appoint” an interim for us. The UCC can provide guidance, but they do not have ministers on hand that they appoint to churches in need. This is vastly different from many denominations!
In this case, after Eric Elnes announced his resignation, the church council acted quickly to appoint the Transition Leadership Committee, per the recommendation of the Personnel Committee, to hire an interim minister. We all felt that due to the breadth of our current ministry, as well as our additional responsibilities as the Christian partner of the Tri-Faith Initiative, that operating with only one minister was not a good interim solution.
We are pleased to have our new interim ministers in place, and look forward to the congregational discernment and official search process per our bylaws, to choose our permanent ministers.
Q: How was the TLC formed? Who was involved in the decision to form the TLC?
A: Once Eric Elnes announced his resignation, the Personnel Committee worked to come up with a recommendation on how to move forward for the interim. They recommended to the Church Council that a Transitional Leadership Committee (TLC) be formed to hire an interim minister. Four members were recommended for the committee – three from the Personnel Committee, and one for a different perspective. The Church Council, in an emergency session to get the process rolling as soon as possible, approved the formation of the Transition Leadership Committee, making the TLC a committee of the Church Council. All actions recommended by the TLC were approved by the Church Council before implementation.
The Personnel Committee, per our bylaws, is made up of the Moderator Team, the Chair of Trustees, the ministers, the Director of Administration and the Treasurer.
Q: How are major decisions made in our church?
A: As a congregational church, the authority rests with the congregation. The Church Council is the governing body that acts on behalf of the congregation. In addition to the eight church boards, there can also be any number of committees of the church council that consider certain issues or aspects of church life or ministry. For any major decisions, the boards and/or committees then bring their recommendations to the Church Council, who make the final decisions.
Q: What is the LRC, and how was it formed?
A: At its April meeting, the Church Council created an ad hoc committee of the Church Council, the Leadership Relations Committee (LRC). This is Countryside’s version of a Pastoral Relations Committee. You may remember when Countryside had a Pastoral Relations Committee, or know other churches who have one. Countryside had one until about 12 years ago. Having a committee like this is highly recommended by the United Church of Christ. With two new ministers to acclimate to Countryside and to support their work, it seemed like just the right time to bring such a committee back to Countryside. As part of the discernment process, the congregation will assess the merits of the LRC and make a decision about whether to continue it past the next Annual Meeting.
The Leadership Relations Committee includes four members of the congregation: Emily Wadhams, Al Cardona, Annette Sterling and Tom Scates. The two ministers, Pastor Tracey Perry and Dan Loven-Crum, make up the Executive Leadership Team. The Leadership Relations Committee (LRC) will mainly serve:
- As an advisory group to the Executive Leadership Team: sharing ideas, dreams, expectations, and concerns of the congregation with the leaders;
- As a support group for the Executive Leadership Team: interpreting roles, functions, boundaries, opportunities, and needs of the leaders to the congregation.
Q: Has the direction of our church changed with the transition to new leadership?
A: No. The interim ministers are not here to change the direction of our church. They actually love what they have heard about Countryside and our commitment to the Tri-Faith Initiative. It’s one of the main reasons they both gave for being interested in coming here.
Q: Where did the idea of a Collaborative Leadership model come from?
A: The Transition Leadership Committee (TLC) wanted to get ideas from Chris Alexander and the staff regarding what they thought was important in a new minister. The TLC had multiple conversations with Chris, the administrator, Dan Loven-Crum, and the program staff. Over and over we heard the theme of needing and wanting collaboration. We have a terrific staff, and it was important to us to take their input very seriously. Chris Alexander especially emphasized the importance of collaboration to her as the church moved forward.
The TLC also knew that we had two good leaders in Dan Loven-Crum and Chris Alexander. We started to research and discuss how we could best utilize the talents that Dan and Chris brought, ensure that the environment was collaborative, and design what we then really needed in an interim minister. We discussed this idea with our conference search and call minister, Rev. Darrell Goodwin. Darrell noted that more churches are moving to a collaborative model; that it appears to be the direction that a large number of churches are heading, or at least discussing seriously. In addition, he pointed out that an interim period is the perfect time to try out a different model; the church then gets to try it and make adjustments as necessary, then decide if it should be made permanent. We found a similar-sized church that had a good reputation that has used a collaborative model for over a decade, University Congregational UCC in Seattle. We contacted them, and had a lengthy conversation with two of their ministers. We learned that they love and are committed to their collaborative model.
After this and much more research, we put together an idea of how we could divide the leadership work of our church into three pieces, and have Dan, Chris and a new minister take those roles. We worked hard to have it be equal in authority, major duties and responsibilities. We then ran it by Dan and Chris for their input, and made some changes accordingly.
In October, we presented the Interim Model of Collaborative Leadership to the Church Council. They approved it.
Q: Why didn’t we just start a search for a senior minister right away and form a search committee?
A: The search and call process is generally a lengthy process that includes discernment on who we are as a church, what direction our church is headed, and what attributes we need in a minister to get us there. Only after that discernment does the actual search, candidate assessment, interview process and contract negotiation take place.
In order to have leadership in place while the lengthy search and call process takes place, we formed the TLC to hire our interim minister(s).
Q: When will a search committee be formed?
A: As is the general practice when a minister leaves, the church needs to go through a congregational discernment process to assess where we have been, and what God is calling us to. Once that is well under way, the search committee will be formed and the search process begun in earnest. The search committee will need to complete a church profile, which is a lengthy document detailing who our church is and what we are about (learned from the discernment process). Once the congregational discernment process is underway, the process to form the search committee will begin.
Q: I was surprised when Chris Alexander resigned. Was this expected? What effect did it have on the work of the TLC?
A: We on the TLC were surprised with how things ended with Chris Alexander. Many ideas of options to proceed during this interim period between settled called ministers were discussed with our UCC Conference Minister and among members of Personnel, including Pastor Chris. With the urging of our UCC conference leadership, a small group was formed to answer to Church Council and work diligently during this interim period as a transition for the leadership to be able to get feedback from staff and membership and set up this interim time to run smoothly for Countryside.
The TLC had several conversations with Pastor Chris about what she thought would be best for Countryside, heard her desire for collaboration, and worked to develop a collaborative model and job description that met her skills and desires, even changing it again after hearing what she thought fit her best. We thoughtfully and prayerfully put together from this and all the other discussions, input and research we had done, what we felt was the best path forward for Countryside.
Unfortunately, it became clear to us pretty quickly that Chris was not happy with the results. We tried further discussions with her, to no avail. This was a very difficult time for the TLC. We were worried that we had caused the church more trouble, heartache and pain. Obviously, this was the opposite of what we were attempting to do. (Yes, many sleepless nights occurred!)
When Chris ultimately discerned that her calling was not to stay with Countryside, we were wrapped up in the changes her decision brought for the next several weeks. Then we had to relook at the Interim Model of Collaborative Leadership, to determine if this was still the best path forward for Countryside. We decided it was, then had to add another church profile, another job description, and begin searching for not one, but two, new ministers. In all, it set us back for 2 – 3 months.
In hindsight, it seems God’s will was with us. We were able to call two interim ministers to live into the model that we created with the input of our wonderful staff and our excellent administrator, now Director of Vision and Stewardship, Dan Loven-Crum, as well as Chris, who is no longer with us, but had a big hand in creating it. We know that this is just an interim model, and that the congregation will need to discern if it is truly the permanent direction Countryside will take, but we think trying this model will teach us a great deal during the interim, and help us together create the very best future for Countryside.
Click Here for a printable PDF of these Frequently Asked Questions.
Introduction of the Leadership Relations Committee – June 2021
At its April meeting, the Church Council created an ad hoc committee of the Church Council, the Leadership Relations Committee. This is Countryside’s version of a Pastoral Relations Committee. You may remember when Countryside had a Pastoral Relations Committee, or know other churches who have one. Countryside had one until about 12 years ago. Having a committee like this is highly recommended by the United Church of Christ. With two new ministers to acclimate to Countryside and support in their work, it seemed like just the right time to bring such a committee back to Countryside. As part of the discernment process, the congregation will assess the merits of the committee, and make a decision of whether to continue it past our next Annual Meeting.
The Leadership Relations Committee will include the two ministers, Pastor Tracey Perry and Pastor Anna Crews Camphouse, plus Dan Loven-Crum, as our Executive Leadership Team, hence Leadership Relations Committee (LRC). They will mainly serve:
As an advisory group to the Executive Leadership Team: sharing ideas, dreams, expectations, and concerns of the congregation with the leaders;
As a support group for the Executive Leadership Team: interpreting roles, functions, boundaries, opportunities, and needs of the leaders to the congregation.
With this Executive Leadership Team using the Interim Model of Collaborative Leadership, another key part of the LRC’s work will be helping to develop how the Collaborative model works best, whether there are any tweaks in job descriptions or roles that will help it work better, and keeping the Church Council informed of how the Collaborative Model is working.
Church leadership exists to build up the congregation as part of the Body of Christ and to equip the congregation for the mission of the church.
“And these gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of Christ, to become mature, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-13
The particular relationship between a leader and congregants should be tended deliberately, so that the ministries of both leaders and congregation can complement each other and further God’s grace in the world. As with any relationship, it must be respected and nurtured to grow in healthy and productive ways. For this reason, the Leadership Relations Committee exists to advise, assist, and promote the growth of this vital relationship.
The UCC recommends that people who serve on the Leadership Relations Committee have skills and attributes such as good Christian character, discernment and prayerfulness, integrity, maturity, patience, ability to maintain confidentiality, ability to reconcile differences, and ability to engage questions of authority, covenant, and accountability with wisdom and care. The Transition Leadership Committee (TLC) and the Church Council recommended several candidates, and the Church Council selected the following individuals:
The Leadership Relations Committee and the Executive Leadership Team will meet at least monthly, and more often now as they get to know each other. Please keep them in your prayers, to support our leadership, and encourage the best relationship between them and the congregation.
,Pastor Tracey Perry, Interim Minister of Worship and Congregational Care (Job Description | PDF), Dan Loven-Crum, Interim Director of Stewardship and Vision (Job Description | PDF)
Explanation of Interim Model of Collaborative Leadership I Click HERE
Common Questions & Answers About New Leadership Model I Click Here
Interim Minister Announcement – April 2021
Reverend Elka Tracey Perry will be joining Countryside Community Church as Interim Minister of Worship and Congregational Care
Congregational Letter from the Moderator Team
April 13, 2021
Your Moderator Team, with Church Council’s approval, is excited to make another announcement. Reverend Elka Tracey Perry will be joining our church as Interim Minister of Worship and Congregational Care on May 1, 2021. She worked as a government contractor for years and for a period at the Pentagon. Pastor Tracey, as she prefers to be called, felt called to ministry. She has served congregations in Colorado, Maryland and Washington, D.C. She is excited to work with the members of Countryside, especially in congregational care, which is a particular love of hers.
When asked why this position interested her, Pastor Tracey, said, “Pastoral Care, preaching and teaching God’s Word, and engaging the youth and church at large, are my areas of interest, and where I thrive.” Her preaching style promises to engage, challenge, and teach the congregation in new ways. She says, “I’m a teaching preacher…I’m not pro-Democrat or pro-Republican. I’m pro-Jesus.” We discovered that she is somebody who finds healing and hope in laughter.
Pastor Tracey brings experience in social justice work and loves to invite the larger community into her church work. Pastor Tracey has been a Keynote Speaker at Women’s Retreats, and a Guest Speaker in churches. She has sat on panels for racial justice, and she spoke on a research study panel on “Race, Religion and Policing”, for Yale University. She has worked with the police department, in collaboration with other Pastors, to assist and bring about healing and faith based guidance, to the police officers, for interaction with minorities and Black communities, in Maryland. Pastor Tracey taught a curriculum she created, for a class for Pastors and lay leaders in Washington D.C., on race and preaching. She has experience with interfaith dialogue, having partnered with other faith traditions in the past.
Pastor Tracey likes communication and discussed it at length during her interview process. She knows that we are a community dealing with grief and transition and sees this as the first challenge moving into this position, to make sure that people feel heard and know that they have a place in our church family.
She wants to get to know as many people as possible in her first days and weeks with us, and brings a great passion and ability for pastoral care and community building. Pastor Tracey and her husband, William, will be joining our church family as soon as possible, as she hopes to be in Omaha before the first of May.
She will complement the gifts and skill sets of Rev. Dr. Anna Crews Camphouse and Dan Loven-Crum in our new collaborative leadership model. These three will comprise the Executive Leadership Team during our interim period. We are excited by what she will teach us, and the opportunities this leadership team will bring to strengthen Countryside and lead us in the ministry to which God has called us.
Information Congregational Informational Meeting Links – January 24
Presentation Slides and Meeting Recording
Contact the Moderators – firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact the Re-Start Task Force – email@example.com
Transition Leadership Committee’s (TLC) Request – January 2020
Calling all Church Members. Please help in brainstorming, reaching out, praying for potential interim candidates. The more we as Countrysiders are reaching out and thinking about and praying for our next candidates, the wider and deeper the pool of individuals there are to hire the best interims. Please use the attached sample letters to modify and send to any potential candidates you may know. Or send names to firstname.lastname@example.org and the committee can reach out to them on behalf of the church.
Transition Letter Invitation to Local Leaders | Word Document
Transition Letter Invitation to Colleagues | Word Document
Mary Scifres Hired to Guide Countryside Through Transition – December 2020
. Visit Mary’s website (www.maryscifres.com) to learn more about Mary and her work.
Links to information shared at previous all-church ZOOM the meeting (December 27)
Q&A’s from the Meeting | PDF
Recording of the Meeting | Video
Job Description – Interim Minister of Engagement and Formation | PDF
Job Description – Interim Minister of Worship and Congregational Care | PDF
Contact the Moderators – email@example.com
Contact the Transition Leadership Committee (TLC) – firstname.lastname@example.org
Associate Minister Resignation – December 2020
Introduction of the Collaborative Model – October 2020
October 29, 2020
Transition Leadership Committee (TLC) members Aubrey Fitzke, Diane Poots, Stacey Warner, Dan Loven-Crum and Tracey Halvorson have been meeting frequently with Countryside leaders, staff, and groups, as well as outside Countryside advisors, experts, and references. We developed a hybrid model of leadership that encompasses the priorities identified in the feedback we have received. At the October meeting of all Boards, we shared the Interim Model of Collaborative Leadership. Collaboration was the key priority that we heard from both staff and Countryside
members. This model and the job description were approved unanimously by Church Council at their October meeting, and will be submitted, with our updated church profile, to our conference minister for approval to post on the UCC website. Our new Interim Associate Minister of Worship and Congregational Care will be responsible for leadership of worship and our interim discernment process leading to assembling a search team and calling our new settled pastor. This person will also lead our worship planning, music and arts, A/V and pastoral care areas. In this interim leadership model, we also prioritized our existing staff resources, especially Rev. Dr. Chris Alexander* and Dan Loven-Crum, and although a new voice will lead worship and discernment, we expect the voices and talents of both Chris and Dan to be strong influences in the planning and implementation of both worship and the discernment process. Chris, as the Interim Associate Minister of Engagement and Formation, will lead our Tri-Faith Initiative partnership and faith formation, through work with youth and family ministries, Center for Faith Studies, member engagement, and representing Countryside on the Tri-Faith Initiative Board. Dan will act as the Interim Director of Vision and Stewardship, lead our financial stewardship and growth, and oversee operations, visioning, Countryside Foundation, and staff development. Chris and the new minister will share equally in administering the sacraments of communion and baptism, and officiating
at weddings and funerals. It is important to know that this is the interim model for collaborative leadership at Countryside. We have taken great time to discern the three main public facing responsibilities the Senior Minister position has led in the past, and divide those evenly among the three leaders. We intentionally choose the two main distinct areas of leadership and responsibility for each individual leader, to not overload any one of the three leaders, but allow all three to have input in every area. This model will continue to be a work in progress throughout our interim time. The discernment process will be our opportunity as community to evaluate how this model fits us, and decide what changes, if any, need to be made before the search committee is formed. We are excited for this new opportunity that God is leading us to, and we ask you to continue to share feedback with us and keep us and our leaders in your prayers.
Joy and peace,
Transition Leadership Committee
Senior Minister Resignation – September 2020
On September 1, Countryside Community Church announced the resignation of our senior minister, Rev. Dr. Eric Elnes. In the letter sent out to our congregation the Moderators acknowledged, “Eric’s painful, but prayerful, decision that now is the right time to step away and follow his next calling to Portland, Oregon.” His last day at Countryside will be November 30, 2020. The Council will vote on a motion to establish a Transition Leadership Committee consisting of the following members: Tracey Halvorson, Aubrey Fitzke, Diane Poots, and Stacey Warner. Dan Loven-Crum will be a non-voting member of this team. This team is not a settled pastor search committee but rather a team to determine:
- Countryside’s immediate and long-term needs as we prepare to call our next senior minister.
- The best fit forward for Countryside in this transitional interim time.
- How best to work within Countryside bylaws to establish a search committee.
We wish Eric and Melanie all of our love and blessings as they journey to their new home in Oregon.