The Search Team has been making some exciting progress! The team is meeting twice per month and has begun the process of contacting all Lead Pastor candidates suggested by the congregation. Following our initial outreach, each potential candidate will receive an information packet sharing the Spirit-led work happening at Fellowship, along with some details specific to the position. The official job posting and Church Profile are both planned for posting the week of February 5. We are very excited about what God has in store for Fellowship Church and ask for your continued prayers for God’s wisdom and guidance.
The Search Team is beginning the process of gathering names for the position of lead pastor. We welcome your suggestions. Please send names for our consideration via:
1. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Name of person being recommended
· Church where the person currently serves
· Contact information for this person (phone or email)
· How do you know or know about this person?
· In your opinion, what makes this person a potential lead pastor for Fellowship?
2. Written: Use the form located at the Welcome Center.
It has now been approximately 6 months since Pastor Brian Keepers took his new position at Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa. During this time we have continued to follow a plan that has included:
- Saying goodbye to the Keeper’s family in a meaningful way
- Taking time to grieve this loss
- Forming a Transition Team to facilitate the transition
- Conducting listening sessions to hear from the congregation about where we have been and where we are
- Forming a Transition Leadership Team to meet each week (Rodger Price, Barb Eriks, Pastor Lindsay Small, Pastor Nate Schipper, Stephen Braunius)
- Identifying Jon Brown, pastor of Pillar Church, to support us as an outside voice in the transition and search process. He meets with the Consistory, Ministry Leadership Council, the Transition Leadership Team, and search team as needed.
- Identifying a search team chair and search team
As we have shared in worship, on our website, and in a recent In The Loop, the following people have agreed to be a part of our search team:
- Kristin Garris (Chair)
- Gwen Auwerda
- Duane Bosma
- Patrick Cisler (MLC)
- Jan Dalman
- Barb Eriks (President-Elect & MLC)
- Dick Schaap (CLC)
- Paul Solis
The team members were selected through much prayer and the discernment of our Transition Team, Human Resource Team, Consistory, and staff. Now that the search team is in place, the Transition Team will meet less frequently. The Transition Team anticipates taking more of a leadership role once the pastor search is complete.
Over the next two months, the search team will begin meeting, we will be collecting stories about who we are and how we have lived into our mission as a church, and a survey will be conducted to receive feedback from the congregation for the qualities we are looking for in our next pastor.
The search process will begin in earnest in January. We will be seeking out potential candidates and also posting the position on our website and the Reformed Church in America’s website.
The transition team is happy to report that we have a search team in place. This team will be led by Kristin Garris. Kristin has extensive knowledge in the field of Human Resources and successfully led our last pastor search process which resulted in the hiring of Pastor Lindsay and Pastor Nate. The search team is the result of work by the Human Resource team along with the Consistory and staff. Please regularly pray for each person on this team as they form and begin their work.
Kristin Garris (Chair)
Patrick Cisler (MLC)
Barb Eriks (President-Elect & MLC)
Dick Schaap (CLC)
Over the next months, as a congregation, we will be remembering who we are by reviewing our vision, mission, and values. This will be a time to share stories that might help tell Fellowship’s story to prospective pastor candidates. We will also have an opportunity to complete a survey that will provide information to our search team about the type of qualities we believe are needed in the next leader at Fellowship.
The Human Resource team has collected names from consistory and staff for the search team. They reviewed the names, talked about the qualities that are desired for search team members, and identified additional names for the list. This list of names will be given to the Ministry Leadership Council for approval at the next meeting on September 25. Upon approval, the HR Team will put together a final search team list and talk with prospective members. Kristin Garris, chair of the HR Team has been approved by MLC to lead the search team. The search team is expected to be formed and meeting by the end of November.
The Transition Team is developing a survey for the congregation where we might identify the desired characteristics of our next lead pastor. Kristin Garris will also be meeting with the staff to gather characteristics and identify gaps.
Feel free to share any questions or feedback via our online form or by placing a note in the box at the Welcome Center.
The Transition Team continues to meet every other week. They have 3 areas they are currently working on:
- Work has begun to form the Search Team. Names of possible candidates were submitted and will be approved by Consistory prior to contacting any of them to serve on the team. Once people have accepted, the final team will again be approved by Consistory.
- We, as a church, are revisiting our mission, vision, and values. This was done by the full Consistory at their Consistory Retreat in August, as well as by the staff at their August retreat. Aspects will also be woven into worship in the upcoming months.
- The teams will begin exploring what are the attributes and characteristics we are looking for in our next leader. More information will be forthcoming on this.
The Interim Leadership Team (Rodger Price, Barb Eriks, Lindsay Small, Nate Schipper, & Steve Braunius) is still meeting weekly to make sure everything is running smoothly.
Thank you for your prayers and for your support during this time of transition. Please let Steve Braunius or Rodger Price know if you have any questions or comments. You can also submit feedback here.
At the Transition Team's last meeting, Kristin Garris was formally named to lead the pastor search process. Kristin also directed the team during the search that led us to Pastor Lindsay and Pastor Nate. We are grateful for her willingness to serve in this capacity again. Our search team will be formed in September and begin the search process. We do not know how long this process will take but are hoping a new pastor would be in place by the Fall of 2018.
Following the Listening Sessions that were held in July & August, the transition team will now compile that information for study.
The team will also be creating a survey for the congregation to learn which characteristics we believe are important in our next leader. As a congregation we will also take time to remember who we are by taking time to review our mission, vision, and core values.
The Transition Team welcomes any feedback you might have. Feel free to submit that feedback here.
On July 24, the MLC met to discern clarity about whether to hire an interim minister or not while we are in our transition between Senior Pastors.
First, here is a brief description of the process used:
- Create a list of pros and cons for hiring an interim minister (which we called a Specialized Transition Minister, or STM or short) and a list of pros and cons for going without.
- Give a weight to the pros and the cons. This was done simply by divvying up 5 dots to each person to be distributed to any of the items that were deemed most important.
- Look at the total picture and make an assessment of which items carried more weight than others and look at the balance of where that weight fell - more toward having an STM or more toward not?
- Individually pray for 5 minutes about the our own discernment of what we would recommend.
- Check-in with each person to see what he or she would recommend.
After completing this full process, the MLC found that each person individually recommended that we NOT hire an STM. This gave a very clear direction after exploring both sides of the possibility.
This recommendation was then forwarded on to the full Consistory for approval. The Consistory affirmed this recommendation and decided to proceed WITHOUT hiring an interim minister.
This decision was announced during services on August 6 & 13, 2017.
Thank you for your prayers and for your support during this time of transition. Please let Steve Braunius or Rodger Price know if you have any questions or comments
Things are running smoothly thanks to the great staff we have and the many volunteers who help with the ministry and leadership tasks that are needed. Thank you to all of you that are playing a role in the leadership and operation of Fellowship Church!
Here are some of the things that are going on in our transition:
- The Transition Team continues to meet every two weeks to monitor progress and to share ideas for how to navigate our transition in the best possible way.
- Pastor Nate, Pastor Lindsay, Steve Braunius, and Rodger Price meet every week to make sure we are on the same page regarding the normal tasks that need to be covered from week to week.
- The MLC and Full Consistory are close to making a decision of whether to hire an Interim Minister or not. This will be decided by the end of August at the latest.
- After the final listening sessions are completed on August 6 and 13, we will look through all that was heard and then begin to kick off our search process. We will also do an on-line survey to learn what you think will be important to look for in our new pastor.
- Jon Brown, our Classis Supervisor, helped us learn that there is a normal rhythm for when most pastoral calls are made. Pastors often start considering a new call after the busyness of the fall kick-off, Thanksgiving, and the Christmas season, so it’s normally in January and February. Decisions to accept a call are often made in the spring, and then the on-boarding happens in summer. As such, while we are open to moving faster than this, we realize that we need to be ready for this kind of timing.
- Our plan is to form our Search Team this fall, help them become clear on who we’re looking for, and then begin the actual search in January. In the meantime we can reach out to pastors that interest us with the hope of creating some interest in us.
Thank you for your prayers and for your support during this time of transition. Please let Steve or Rodger know if you have any questions or comments that you believe would be helpful.
July 5, 2017
Dear Fellowship Family,
It’s hard to believe it’s been a month now since we celebrated our last Sunday with you on June 4th! We’ve thought of you often and thanked God every time you’ve come to mind.
We wanted to say “thank you” for making our last Sunday so special. We will never forget the way you encircled us at the end of the worship service and prayed God’s blessing upon our family. And the time of celebration after the worship services was so much fun and very touching. Thank you to all who were part of planning it, and to all the hands that helped prepare and serve food. We laughed so hard at “Prestigious and Lathy Bee” (did we get it right, Pastor Nate and Pastor Lindsay?). Those of you who shared some personal words blessed us tremendously. The painting by Joel Schoon-Tanis is stunning (we look at it every day!). Thank you also for including something so special for our girls (they love the necklaces). And the binder full of cards and notes and the incredibly generous love-offering…well, it’s hard to find the words to tell you what it all means to us, what you mean to us.
Thank you also for praying for us during this “in between” time, especially regarding the housing situation. We praise God that our house here in Holland has sold, and we’ve bought a house in Alton, Iowa (which is right next to Orange City, close to the bypass—very convenient for Tammy as she’ll be driving 15 minutes each day to the town of Sheldon to teach Spanish at the high school). We plan to load the U-Haul and leave Holland on Saturday, July 15. We won’t be able to take possession of our house in Alton until July 24, so we’ll be staying in the home of a family from the church for a week while they are gone for the summer. Brian’s first Sunday preaching will be July 30, and his installation service will be on August 20.
This “transition time” has been a wonderful gift to both Brian and our whole family. Brian has had time to reflect on this last chapter of ministry at Fellowship and all God has taught him, and our family has had lots of meaningful time together. While our hearts continue to grieve leaving Fellowship and Holland, we are also excited for this new chapter at Trinity. Oh yeah, and the girls wanted us to make sure and tell you that we have a puppy waiting for us in Orange City (Oh boy…here we go again!). They’ve named him “Remi” (short for “Rembrandt”).
Know how much we love you, and we will continue to hold you in our hearts and prayers. Our hope is to come back to vacation for a couple weeks each summer, so we’ll make sure to join you for worship when we’re back! And know that our house is always open to any of you who are traveling through or would like to make a trip out to northwest Iowa, where the corn grows tall and people bleed black and gold (Go Hawkeyes!).
Brian, Tammy, Emma and Abby
The Transition Team met on June 27. During this meeting, 3 points were discussed:
- Listening Sessions.
- July 6, 16, August 6, 13 after both services in MC32/33
- The team is scheduling 4 listening sessions for everyone to offer their thoughts on where we are now, and to ask questions or give general feedback. If you are unable to attend, you can share your thoughts through this online form.
- More Detailed Suggestions will be sought later.
- As we move forward, the Transition Team will begin to ask more focused questions about the attributes we are looking for. They will seek more detailed suggestions at that time.
- Transition Plan Timeline.
- The timeline for this entire process is being finalized. We will share more details once it has been approved by MLC.
Questions or Concerns
If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact any member of the Transition Team.
The Transition Team met on Tuesday, June 13, 2017.
The primary focus of the meeting was to learn about the Transition Ministry Services that are available from the Reformed Church in America. Art Wiers leads the program and presented at our meeting. He specifically talked about the value of having a full or part-time specialized transition minister. He highlighted a few things:
- This is not just a time to get through, it's an opportunity.
- This is a time to listen well and discern where God wants Fellowship to go.
- Don't rush the search process. It is important to take time to find the right leader.
- This is a time to listen well to the congregation.
- It is possible, as a church, to maintain momentum and even grow during this time.
The Transition Team and MLC will be discerning over the coming weeks if we need an interim pastor. Pastor Lindsay, Pastor Nate, Steve Braunius, and Rodger Price are meeting each week to ensure coverage of responsibilities that would normally be covered by the Preaching and Leadership Pastor.
We are also in conversation with a possible Classis supervisor. This individual is an ordained pastor from the area who would assist us in following good process.
The Transition Team met this morning with Larry Schuyler from the Holland Classis. The Holland Classis is a group of churches in the Holland area who work together and are all part of the Reformed Church in a America. The Holland Classis will work with us to appoint a Classis Supervisor. This will be a person who will help ensure that we follow a good process through the transition, using best practices that the Reformed Church has identified. The team reviewed people in the area who might be good in this role. Larry Schuyler and Rodger Price, President of Congregation, will be setting up a meeting with our top choices. The Classis Supervisor will meet with consistory and other groups on a regular basis.
The Team also talked about:
- the work that is being done in preparation for celebrating the Keepers family on June 4
- the preaching schedule for the Summer which will be published in the upcoming newsletter
- ways we might take time as a congregation to grieve in the loss of Pastor Brian
- the importance of prayer and a prayer team
A team has been formed to lead Fellowship during this time of transition. Led by President of the Congregation, Rodger Price, the team includes:
The Transition Team held their first meeting on Sunday, May 21, at 3pm. During the meeting, the team discussed the process that will be used during this time. Their first responsibilities are to:
- create a team to lead a wonderful send-off for Pastor Brian and the Keepers family
- ensure prompt and clear communication with the congregation
- identify a plan for the summer and fall worship schedule
- connect with the Classis via our Classis Supervisor
The send-off team has been formed and plans are well under way for the Farewell Celebration on June 4. There will be a luncheon and presentation in the Great Room beginning at 11:30am.
Communication will be handled via the Transition blog on Fellowship's website, newsletters, the bulletin, enews, announcements, and direct emails and mailings to the congregation. In order to make sure you receive all communications, please make sure your contact information is correct in our database, CCB. You can log-in here. Or you can fill out this Contact Form to update your information. Click here to sign up for the weekly enews.
Led by Pastor Lindsay and Pastor Nate, the summer worship schedule is nearly complete and will be approved by the MLC. The schedule will be announced in the upcoming Newsletter.
Larry Schuyler, Classis Coordinator of Holland Classis, will be invited to an upcoming meeting to determine our Classis Supervisor.
The Transition Team will continue to meet regularly.
Further responsibilities will be to create a prayer team for the transition, lead several listening sessions with the congregation, create a transition plan, and create a search team in coordination with the Human Resources team. More information about these will be shared as they are developed.
Questions or Concerns
If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact any member of the Transition Team.
Plans are starting to come together to celebrate the Keepers family:
Farewell Celebration: Please join us for a meal and a time of remembrance and celebration on June 4 at 11:30am.
Memories & Letters for Pastor Brian: If you would like to contribute any cards, memories, or letters to a keepsake album for Pastor Brian, please submit them to the Welcome Center or office by Sunday, May 28. You can also submit a letter or memory at bit.ly/PastorBrian and we will print it to include.
Love Offering: If you would like to contribute to a love offering for the Keepers family, please turn it in to the office by June 4. Checks should be made out to Fellowship Church and designated “Keepers’ Love Offering.” You can also contribute online at bit.ly/frcgive and choose “Love Brian” as the designation.
Pastor Brian shared his news about accepting a call at Trinity Reformed Church in Iowa at the Congregational Meeting on Sunday, April 30.. He received a standing ovation from the congregation. You can read the Keepers' family letter to the congregation below. We will celebrate Pastor Brian's last Sunday at Fellowship on June 4.
April 30, 2017
A Note from the Keepers Family
Dear Fellowship Family,
We want to begin by expressing our gratitude for your prayers for our family over the past couple weeks as we’ve been in this important season of discernment. So many of you have sent notes, emails, texts, and cards of encouragement and support. It has meant the world to us.
If you were present at the congregational meeting this past Sunday, then you know that we have decided to accept the call for Brian to be the next lead pastor of Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa. This decision came after much prayer and wrestling. The hardest part is leaving you, a congregation we love so deeply. You have been our community for the last twelve years. And prior to that, you shaped us so profoundly when Brian was a seminary intern at Fellowship.
We’ve come to the conclusion that there isn’t ever a “good” time to say goodbye to a congregation you love, but there are better and worse times. It seems to us, given the health and stability of Fellowship, that this is a “better” time for us to make a transition. With the building project nearly complete and such a strong and competent staff in place, we are confident that Fellowship has an exciting future. It also seems like a good time for our family to make a change, since Emma is finishing up 8th grade and will be starting high school this fall.
While it has always been hard for us to imagine serving another congregation besides Fellowship, it has become clear that God is calling us to Trinity. Northwest Iowa is the place where we (Brian especially) have roots and that has deeply formed us over the years. We have family in the area, and we are excited for our girls to get to be near their cousins on Brian’s side and get to know them better. Like Fellowship, Trinity is a very vital and healthy church. One of the unique things about Trinity is that it has a strong ministry to college students, faculty, and staff from Brian’s alma mater, Northwestern College, as well as Dordt College and Northwest Iowa Community College. For some time, Brian has sensed God calling him to college ministry in some capacity. This would allow him to do campus ministry and be a pastor to a congregation.
It’s important to say that our decision has nothing to do with anything being wrong with Fellowship and everything to do with a sense of call to Trinity. God is at work in such powerful ways in and through Fellowship, and we celebrate the amazing staff in place. We also give thanks for our incredible lay leaders, and have such confidence that God will lead Fellowship to the next lead pastor who will be the right fit for an exciting new chapter.
We will be working with the Human Resource Team, Consistory, and Staff to determine the best plan for a transition. Our last Sunday at Fellowship will be Pentecost (June 4). Between now and then, we’d love to connect with as many of you as possible. Please know how much we love you, and how grateful we are for the last twelve years of getting to do life and ministry together in Jesus’ name. You are an amazing congregation, and it has been our deepest joy to get to serve Christ with you.
With Love and Gratitude,
Pastor Brian, Tammy, Emma and Abby