First Church of Christ Congregational United Church of Christ in North Conway New Hampshire  
    From the Minister of the First Church of Christ in North Conway NH        
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First Church of Christ, Congregational, United Church of Christ in North Conway is a remarkable gathering of the followers of Christ. This “in between” time will be one of exploration and dreaming as the church prepares for a new pastor to arrive. I am blessed and humbled to have been invited to be the shepherd of this congregation during the interim period.

The work of an Interim Pastor has five specific focal points, each of which is related to the questions that a church needs to answer about itself in the Church Profile that candidates for the office of settled pastor will read. The five focal points are

  • Heritage: what does the past tell this congregation about it’s future? What needs to be celebrated and held on to? What can be celebrated and let go? What must be addressed so it doesn’t cause harm in the future?
  • Leadership: How does this congregation choose its leaders, lay and ordained? Do the leaders know who is best equipped for specific roles? Does everyone who wants to serve have a chance to serve, whether as a leader or as a participant in the work of the church?
  • Mission: what does this church do to alleviate suffering, bring justice, and restore wholeness in this community and the world? Who is visible because of that work and who remains invisible? Where might there be energy for different kinds of mission work to address the still-invisible or to make additional positive differences for those who are already visible?
  • Connections: Who is already here and who isn’t? Why? How is the congregation connected to other communities of faith in the local area? How well is the congregation connected to the United Church of Christ at each level, North Country Association, New Hampshire Conference, and National? What makes up those connections?
  • Future: What is God calling this congregation to do in the next 2-5 years? 10 years? 25 years? How can the body best prepared to carry out that calling? What kinds of leaders will be needed, whether lay or ordained?

The questions that the United Church of Christ Local Church Profile asks are

  • Who is God Calling to Minister With Us?
    This touches on the gifts and skills of the next pastor as well as the personality, to some extent. Heritage, Leadership, and Future are the key focal point anchors for this section.
  • Who is God Calling Us to Become?
    This question invites the congregation to dream about possibilities and things that seem impossible now but could become possible with the right tools and the right mindset. This is obviously related to the Future focal point, but it also encompasses Connections, Mission, and Leadership.
  • Who are We Now?
    Every church that knows its history has a better understanding of its present and thus a more realistic vision of what God is asking for the future. Heritage is the key to help the congregation answer this question.

Everything that you and I do together will, I hope, be oriented toward this preparatory work and then toward the search process. I was on staff as the Minister of Christian Education and Family Life (the associate by all but title) during an Interim period at one church; I know from experience that there will be moments when it seems that this time in the wilderness is interminable. But I want to invite you to consider this about time in the wilderness:

The People of Israel were not God’s people in anything but name when Moses brought them out of Egypt. They were still God’s people in name only when Moses came down off Sinai…and it was dicey whether God was going to claim them at that point because of the Golden Calf. It took 40 years of wandering in the Wilderness for the people to be fully invested in the relationship that God desired so much. Even now, the Jewish community in the world is still living out that relationship and ultimately, so is the Christian community. Patience paid off.

First Church of Christ, Congregational will not wander for 40 years in the interim wilderness. But it will take time to do this work well, and when the process is done intentionally and thoughtfully, the results are very good. So I ask of you who are already here to be patient, intentional, and thoughtful during this time. Be truthful about your experience of this place and the people here. And please dream about what you think is possible for this body of Christ gathered in this place, knowing that God can and does make all things possible. Your vision may not be exactly what God is calling the congregation to do, but it may very well be part of how that ultimate call is heard and claimed.

If you are perusing the website because you’re curious about this congregation, please don’t let the interim period deter you. Come and see what First Church of Christ, Congregational, United Pastor RuthChurch of Christ, is all about. Your curiosity could be God nudging you to bring your wisdom, experience, and passion to the church, or the urging of the Holy Spirit to come here to be inspired to serve the causes of justice and hope with people who have dedicated their hearts to that work. Perhaps you’re a musician looking for a place to play before the Lord…there are many, many opportunities for singers and instrumentalists here. And know this: No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.

Peace, Pastor Ruth

© First Church of Christ, Congregational United Church of Christ
2521 White Mountain Highway, PO Box 401, North Conway, NH 03860-0401 (603) 356-2324