New Minister of Congregational Care

September 21st, 2007 • Category: Church News

Melody MeridaOver the summer, our Church has been searching for a new Minister of Congregational Care. We have now completed a methodical, detailed search process — and are ready to make an exciting announcement.

Pastor Jeff and the Board of Directors have reached an enthusiastic and unanimous decision to hire Melody Merida as our new Minister of Congregational Care!

Read on to get to know Melody and understand why we are so excited.

1. How was the hiring process conducted?

We posted the position of Minister of Congregational Care throughout our denomination and in various seminaries on May 27. Our application period closed July 8. Pastor Jeff and a group of Board members then carefully reviewed each application and selected the leading candidates for intensive interviews. A recommendation was then presented to the full Board, reviewed, and unanimously approved.

2. What did the pool of candidates look like?

We had a pool of eleven very gifted candidates. Eight were from within MCC, three from outside. Five were female; six male. One was African American; another was transgender. Eight were ordained; three were not. Six were local; five from elsewhere. Six had advanced degrees. The gifts and talents of those making application were impressive. For example, one candidate had served as a senior pastor of non-MCC congregations with attendance in the thousands. (There were a variety of reasons why that candidate was not the best fit.) Clearly, though, we had the luxury of an abundance of wonderful options to consider.

3. What will be the responsibilities of the Minister of Congregational Care?

The foremost responsibility will be to provide strategic leadership for our pastoral care ministries, our children’s ministries (nursery to high school), our parents and family ministries, and our “in-reach” ministry teams. Each of these critical ministry areas involves large groups of volunteers who must be recruited, trained, coordinated, nurtured, and supported. Thus, above all else, our Minister of Congregational Care must excel in spiritual visioning, leadership, and team building.

4. What skills do we believe are most critical to serving in this position?

The last line in the prior answer captures it well: Above all else, we need someone who excels in spiritual visioning, leadership, and team building. As our church continues to grow numerically, so does the ministry potential of our congregation. Already, we have hundreds of people with powerful spiritual gifts that God can use to do incredible things! Increasingly, the challenge for church staff is to find ways to encourage and support use of those incredible gifts. That requires staff with vision, leadership, and team building skills.

The job of church staff is not to do all the work of the church; otherwise the potential of the church will be limited to the reach of those few individuals. The job of church staff is to inspire and equip all of us to use our own innate spiritual gifts to do God’s wonderful work. That kind of staffing strategy will give our church limitless potential! To pursue that kind of strategy, we must hire staff who are visionary leaders and top-notch team builders. That’s why we are hiring Melody Merida.

5. Who is Melody?

Melody, age 33, has been an active leader in our church for the past five years. She has served as a Children’s Church Teacher, Discipleship Teacher, Oasis Leaders Coach, and Missions Board member. In every area where she has been involved, she has risen to leadership and served with great distinction. Many of us have been directly touched by her work. She is consistently one of our highest rated Discipleship Teachers.

Professionally, Melody served for a number of years as Program Coordinator for a very successful day care center that provided Christian education to its children. Melody was responsible for curriculum development, teaching, and for hiring, training and supporting a staff of 20. During her tenure, the day care center grew to the point that they had waiting lists for every age group. Melody’s other most-formative professional experience was at CP Morgan home builders, where she led the warranty office for the Charlotte, North Carolina, market. There, Melody built, trained, and supported a staff team that achieved the highest customer satisfaction rating in the history of CP Morgan.

Spiritually, Melody grew up in fundamentalist churches and attended Liberty University. Her father is a preacher (now retired). After school, Melody came out and began a long journey that ultimately led her back to church — our church. She has evolved far beyond her fundamentalist roots, shows wonderful theological thoughtfulness and openness, and generally takes theological positions that our Search Committee would describe as consistent with the Emerging Church Movement. We found her spiritual perspectives to be beautifully nuanced and balanced, drawing elements from both progressive and traditional Christianity.

Two years ago, Melody married Lori Thomas, who also actively participates in our church.

6. What persuaded the Search Team that Melody was the best choice?

  • Melody has exceptional leadership and team-building skills.

Before launching our search last May, we developed a detailed job description for Minister of Congregational Care and shared that with the congregation. We did that so our search would be guided by the objective requirements of the position, rather than the whim of personal preference. The first four items on the job description for Minister of Congregational Care (ranked in order of importance) all involve intensive leadership responsibilities. The Minister of Congregational Care is responsible for visioning, planning, leading, and supporting: (a) our pastoral care-giving efforts; (b) our children and youth programs; (c) our parent and family programs; and (d) our “in-reach” ministry teams.

In our detailed review, we have become convinced that Melody is an unusually gifted leader. In every single professional position she has held, she has a proven track record of building and leading very successful teams. This is confirmed by our first-hand experience of her at church. Her leadership has made a huge difference for our Discipleship Program, Oasis Groups, Missions Board, and Children’s Church. In Biblical terms, Melody has the “gift of leadership.” She is very good with people.

  • Melody has profound spiritual depth and insight.

Many of us at church have had an opportunity to watch Melody’s spiritual journey over a period of years. What we have seen is a deep devotion to God, ongoing spiritual development, and a steadiness of soul and spirit. Her daily walk with God is authentic. In her conversations with the Search Team, she demonstrated wonderful listening skills and good perception and intuition. These skills bode well for her role in providing spiritual counsel to congregants.

  • Melody is passionate about our church, especially about building our children, family, and care-giving ministries.

Melody stood out among our candidates in her passion for the specific tasks involved in the position of Minister of Congregational Care. She is chomping at the bit to help us grow and improve the ministry areas covered by this position. We were especially impressed with her past experience in building children’s programs and her vision for what our children and family programs can become. More than any other candidate, she is fired up about our kids!

  • Melody will become one of only a handful of MCC ministers who are under 40.

Melody is not yet ordained, but is committed to obtaining this credential. She will begin seminary next semester. Currently, in all of MCC, there are only 12 clergy under the age of 40! Although it will take Melody several years to become fully credentialed, we believe she is the best candidate now, will meet critical needs at our church from Day One, and will become even more effective as she rounds out her skill set with seminary. We believe Melody has the potential to become one of the key leaders of the next generation of our church and denomination. Both her youth and gender will bring diversity.

We are hiring someone with enormous potential, enormous passion, and enormous Spirit. She will begin the week of September 23. Let’s lift her up in our prayers as she steps into this new position!

If you have questions or comments, feel free to email pastorjeff@jesusmcc.org.

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