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Pastoral Searches Paused Due to COVID-19

CHICAGO, IL (March 30, 2020) – The COVID-19 crisis has led many churches to pause their search processes to fill positions.

Whether a church stops its search or proceeds depends largely on where it is in the process. Congregations close to choosing a candidate face the biggest challenge. “They are like airplanes approaching landing but need to be diverted,” said Howard Burgoyne, superintendent of the East Coast Conference.

At least one church in that conference was unsure whether they could engage in final negotiations with a candidate online. Another that was about to begin in-person interviews put their process on hold. First Covenant Church in Portland, Ore., had to cancel a candidating weekend days before the scheduled event.

Burgoyne recently used Zoom to conduct his first fully online orientation for a search committee.

Churches that are early in the process are still in the vetting stage, which can happen online. Northwest Covenant Church in Mt. Prospect, Ill., decided to continue their search for a pastor of outreach because they were just posting the position.

Leaders expect the crisis to decrease church income, so some churches are reconsidering whether they will be able to fill currently open positions.

About the Author

  • Stan Friedman is an ordained minister in the Covenant Church. He formerly served on the Marketing and Communications team and is now in a chaplain residency in Naples, Florida.

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