Community Church of Sebastopol

United Church of Christ

Come and Find the Quiet Center

1000 Gravenstein Hwy North           707.823.2484

Senior Pastor Search Committee

Search Committee

Our Senior Pastor: Rev. Dr. Benjamin J. Broadbent (center with blue shirt & tie) and the Search Committee. L-R: Debbie McCallum, Patty Raney, Lisa Dawson, Bobbie Johanson, Andy DelMonte, Pastor Ben, Jim Jenkins, Nancy Shimetz, Gail Thomas, Denelle Tognozzi and Caitie Carciere. Not pictured: Karl Kachigan, Ben Rasmus and Warren Brisbin.

Dear Church Family and Friends,

The Pastoral Search Committee is thrilled to announce that we have a new Senior Minister! The Rev. Dr. Benjamin J. Broadbent and his family came for a busy candidate weekend filled with meals, meetings and a wonderful worship service last Sunday where he gave the children’s message, prayed and preached. At a congregational meeting immediately following the service he was elected by an overwhelming majority of 166 out of 168 votes. He signed an official Letter of Call and will begin his ministry with us in early August.

Pastor Benjamin or “Ben” comes to us with his wife Brooke Bell and their son, Marin (10), and daughter, Sophia (7), from Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he has served for 17 years at The First Congregational Church. They are happy to return to Northern California – Ben grew up in Santa Cruz and Brooke is from San Jose. Both their mothers were in the congregation on Sunday, along with Ben’s sister. His father, Matt, is also a UCC minister and couldn’t attend since he was leading his own church in worship. In fact, some of you met his mother, Barbara Broadbent, when she led us in an envisioning process last September.

Another sweet connection to our church is that Ben and Brooke met for the first time in our Pilgrim House in 1997, at a meeting of counselors for Camp Caz! They are looking forward to our famous Apple Pie Event and bringing their kids to our Family Camp this September. Ben says that he has known of our congregation’s strong support of Caz for many years. He and Brooke reconnected with many former Caz friends at the dinner on Saturday and after church. Following the vote, they were happy to receive a gift from the Search Committee, one of the Pilgrim House windows, presented by Debbie McCallum, who also was one of those counselors in 1997.

Benjamin outshone all the other people applying for the position and was a unanimous choice by the search committee. We have felt strongly since November that he is an excellent fit for our church. He earned his Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School in 1998. In 1999, he became the Associate Minister of Children, Youth and Families at First Congregational Church in Colorado Springs. In 2005, he was called as the Lead Minister of his church when the Senior Minister retired. Ben received his Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from the Chicago Theological Seminary in 2012, writing a dissertation on Preaching as an Embodied Practice.

In addition to ministry, Ben loves playing guitar and ukulele, listening to live music, beach cruiser bicycles, craft beer, speaking Spanish and traveling. We are excited to have him and his family join our church family for a new chapter in our journey together at the Community Church.

The Search Committee
Nancy Shimetz, Andy Del Monte, Bobbie Johanson, Lisa Dawson, Karl Kachigan, Caitie Carciere, Ben Rasmus, Debbie McCallum, Warren Brisbin, Gail Thomas, Denelle Tognozzi, Patty Raney, and Jim Jenkins

Meet Pastor Ben & Family on Sunday, August 7 at a welcome reception following worship.

The Search Committee News & Update

Meet Our Sr. Pastor Candidate

May 7 & 8

The Search Committee is so happy to finally introduce our candidate for senior minister this month. Please plan to put time aside to meet him and his family on Saturday, May 7th. Most importantly, please attend church on Mother's Day, May 8th, to hear him preach and, if you are a member, vote on his call. Here is the schedule for the weekend:

    • 9:30-10:30 am Council, Committee Chairs and Transition Committee gather in Fireside Room with the candidate and his wife. Invitations will be sent.

    • 11:30 am Middle School & Sr. High Youth get-together at Mary’s Pizza with Lydia and our candidate for a hosted lunch. Bring your appetite and questions!

    • 5:30 pmAll Church Family Meet & Greet in Memorial Hall. The Search Committee will provide Lasagna, salad, bread and beverages; participants will be asked to bring appetizers or dessert to complete the menu.

On Sunday, May 8, everyone come to church to hear our candidate give the children's message, sermon and lead us in prayer. Immediately following that service, a congregational meeting will be held for the purpose of giving each church member an opportunity to vote by ballot on whether a formal call will be issued to this candidate to become our Senior Pastor. There will be more food to enjoy after that.

After you meet our candidate, confidentiality will still be an issue until Tuesday morning, May 10th. Please no cellphone photos, email or social media postings related to our candidate until he can inform his own church. His congregation needs to hear the news from him, in a letter that will go out on May 9th.

This is an important and exciting milestone for our church. We hope you will be able to participate and join us in envisioning a bright future together.

dinner plate

All Church Family Dinner

May 7

The entire family is invited – the Search Committee will provide Lasagna, Salad, Bread and Beverages and we ask that you bring an appetizer (if your last name begins with A-L) or bring a dessert (last name M-Z.)

Special activities are planned for the children for after dinner. We hope you can join us to share a meal and meet our candidate and his family.

To help us in planning for dinner, please let us know if you will be attending – just send a quick email with the number of adults & children in your family to:

We also need help with set up and clean up – if you can help, please contact Caitie Carciere at or (707) 479-2190.

Congregational Meeting

May 8

Our Sr. Pastor candidate will preach on May 8 and Church Council has called a Congregational Meeting immediately following worship on that date so that we may take a vote to issue a call.

There will several events over the weekend of May 7 & 8 to give you the opportunity to meet our candidate and his family.

Find out more about the events planned for May 7 & 8 right here with a letter from the Search Committee (PDF) and more informaiton from the Transition Team (PDF).

Transition Team News

Over the last several months, the Transition Committee has been working with our ministerial staff and Diaconate Board to ensure the congregation's ministerial needs are met after Gene's departure. We are fortunate that we have Lydia, Rachel, and Brian on staff and they are committed to provide for your pastoral needs during this time. Although summer vacations and youth trips/camps may create voids in their schedules at times, we are certain there is enough overlap in their schedules to provide support. In addition, we are contacting other local ministers to "be on call" as well. Please contact the church office to request pastoral support. The ministerial staff and Diaconate Board will work together to provide the support requested.

Our summer Worship services will continue to be comprised of interest centers for our children along with our special summer music series. In addition to our wonderful preachers on staff, the Diaconate Board has been coordinating a series of special summer guest preachers. More information will follow, but some of the guest preachers include.

    • Davena Jones Conference Minister
    • Lizann Bassham Former Associate Minister at the Community Church
    • Peter SkaifeA retired UCC Minister
    • Charles Ensley A retired UCC Minister
    • Rob McClellan Pastor at the Westminister Presbyterian Church in Tiburon
    • Alan Kelchner Former Preaching Professor

Additionally, the St. Petersburg Choir will treat us to their special music on a Sunday in May. I am certain that we will all be enlightened by the variety of these great guest preachers and blessed by the diverse special summer music.

Please contact any member of the Transition Committee or Diaconate Board if you have concerns or suggestions.

Dan Rasmus, Transition Committee Chairperson
Transition Team: Kathy Bell, Joyce Cox, Chris Dawson, Jane Huneke and Roger Wilson

March 24

The Search Committee is thrilled to announce that we have found an excellent candidate for Senior Pastor, and he is just as excited as we are about becoming part of our church. Council has called a congregational meeting to be held SUNDAY, MAY 8th immediately following worship.

Within a week or so, a snail mail letter will be sent to everyone with more details about the weekend of May 7-8. We are planning several events on Saturday so you will have a chance to meet him and his family. Because we need to maintain confidentiality until that weekend, the name of the candidate and details which could reveal our candidate, will not be given out.

We on the Search Committee are confident that the congregation will wholeheartedly agree that this is the right person for the job. Thanks for your patience, prayers and support through this process.

Prayers for all as we continue on this journey together.

The Search Committee
Andy DelMonte and Nancy Shimetz, Co-Chairs

Late February: More Exciting News!

The Pastoral Search Committee has been conducting phone interviews and had a face to face interview in late February. We are very excited about this candidate and will keep you updated. Gene will leave some big shoes to fill and we are working very hard to have just the right person in place to do an excellent job of shepherding our flock well into the future.

February 2016

The Pastoral Search Committee is moving to the exciting stage of our process. After much paper screening and several phone interviews conducted with new technology in our media room, we are moving ahead with face to face interviews. We are hoping to have a candidate to put forth to the congregation in the near future. Please pray for this process to go smoothly with God's help.

The Search Committee Reaches a Major Milestone

January 2016

The Search Committee continues to meet every Monday as we are now receiving applications for the Sr. Minister position. We are reviewing profiles and assimilating our interview list. Much of what we do at this point is of a confidential nature – but we will keep you posted with pertinent news of the process.

October 30, 2015

We are happy to announce that we have finished our Church Profile. This is a document that explains who we are as a congregation and what we are seeking in a new Senior Minister. It is shared on the UCC website with candidates who are interested in applying for new positions. We have also posted an ad on the UCC site announcing the position that will begin on November 10. If you are interested, you may review a copy of the profile in the church office, or send an email request, and a copy will be sent to you electronically.

We are sorry to announce that Kathie Mayhew had to resign from our committee due to personal commitments. Now keep those prayers coming for our hard-working committee and prayers that we may have a plethora of great people ready to apply for our Senior Minister position!

Visioning Our Future!

September 19

Please join us for an all-church long-range planning workshop on Saturday, September 19 from 9 am to 12:00 in Memorial Hall.

Our facilitator will be Barbara Broadbent, an associate conference minister who works with churches in transition. She uses a process called Appreciative Inquiry which focuses on what is working well and building on strengths. We need to identify what is important to us and where we would like to see our church in the future. This information will be very important to our search committee and for our new minister.

Come join us for a very interesting and important morning. Coffee, Juice and Breakfast snacks will be served. Child care will be available.

Congregational Meeting on August 16 Approved Search Committee Slate

The congregation voted to approve the slate presented for the Senior Pastor Search Committee:

    • Warren Brisbin
    • Caitie Carciere
    • Lisa Dawson
    • Andy DelMonte
    • Jim Jenkins
    • Bobbie Johanson
    • Karl Kachigan
    • Debbie McCallum
    • Kathie Mayhew
    • Patty Raney
    • Ben Rasmus
    • Nancy Shimetz
    • Gail Thomas
    • Denelle Tognozzi

    The newly formed Senior Pastor Search Committee met and elected Andy DelMonte and Nancy Shimetz as Co-Chairs of the committee, Caitie Carciere as Recording Secretary, Bobbie Johanson as Committee Chaplain and Karl Kachigan and Lisa Dawson as Corresponding Secretaries.

    Much of the work the Search Committee performs from this point forward will be of a confidential nature, but the committee will provide updates to the congregation and keep us informed of their progress.

    We started this process with a Transition Steering Committee...

    The Church Council has approved the formation of a Transition Steering Committee to serve to provide guidance and strategic direction to the Congregation, Council and Trustees on all matters related to the transition from Gene’s ministry with us to a new Senior Minister. The committee is not intended to lead activities or make final decisions, instead, the purpose is to look at ALL aspects of our church life to identify and prioritize the critical transition items and ensure we have a plan to address them. Additionally, the Transition Committee will work closely with the Northern California Conference of the UCC to help define and plan the process. This is not a search committee, that will come later and only after much discussion and input from the congregation.

    The Church Council directed that the Transition Committee emphasize open and continual communication with the congregation and stressed the importance of seeking participation from the entire congregation. With that in mind, among the most important goals of the committee will be to make sure the process is transparent, communication with the congregation is continual, all voices are heard, and that everyone that wants to be involved will have that opportunity.

    Transition Team members include Chair Dan Rasmus, past Moderator Jane Huneke, current Moderator Chris Dawson, 2016 Moderator Joyce Cox, Board of Trustees Chair Roger Wilson and Kathy Bell.

    July 2 Transition Team Update

    Great News! The Church Council voted unanimously last night to immediately begin the search process for a new minister. We are all thankful that Gene has given us a year 's notice of his retirement scheduled at the end of April next year, and we will need every one of those days to call a new minister.

    The Transition Committee has been working for the last couple of months to research and create a plan for the transition from Gene's ministry with us, to a new Minister. That recommendation which is included here, was presented last night in a Special meeting to the Church Council. As you might imagine, there are many elements to the overall plan, but the recommendation the Council approved last night, was the key first step in the process. The second recommendation the Council received and approved, was the authorization to immediately create a search committee (as detailed in our bylaws). The selection process for the Search Committee is detailed below.

    The Search Committee is one of the first (but certainly not the last) opportunities for all of the church members to get involved, either through the nomination process, or actually serving on the committee. Please review the documents here, and look for further announcements in the mail.

    This is an important early step in a long process, but the positive energy and overall support for the process is very encouraging and will be one of the essential elements that will helps us grow and thrive as a church community.

    The letter to the congregation is listed below, or get a printable version here (PDF)

    Transition Committed Search Process Recommendations are listed below, or get a printable version here. (PDF)

    The Congregational Survey of Leadership Qualities for our Incoming Senior Pastor can be completed on line at or get a printable version here. (PDF)

    Seeking Nominations for the Pastor Search Committee

    July 2 Letter to the Congregation

    A search for a new pastor is one of the most spiritual ministries in the church. We are inviting the congregation to submit nominations for the Pastor Search Committee. Those who submit nominations should include a brief description of the reasons why that person would be an asset to the committee. Before submitting the nomination, please check with the person to see if they are willing to serve. You may nominate yourself.

    Makeup of the Committee: All persons on the Search Committee should be full members of the congregation. The members should reflect, as much as possible, the diversity of the congregation (cultural, economic, sexual orientation). The committee should also be selected to include an equal representation of men and women, young and old, new and long-time members, as well as persons with involvement in varied aspects of church life (choir, education, women’s or men’s groups, deacons, mission and outreach, etc.). There should also be one youth delegate. Because of this diversity not all names submitted will be selected.

    Personal qualities: Here are some personal qualities and attributes to consider in the selection of your nominee.

      • A passionate commitment to Christ’s church;
      • A positive attitude;
      • A capacity to approach the task with openness rather than a pre-determined agenda;
      • A sense of integrity and respect for others;
      • An ability to be absolutely confidential;
      • A capacity to listen, to participate in a group, and to come to consensus.
      • An active supporter of the church as demonstrated by worship attendance, financial support, and participation;
      • Trusted and respected by the congregation;
      • Willing and able to make this responsibility a very high priority.

      Five commitments are required for those who serve on the Search Committee.

        1. A Faith Commitment to develop as faith-centered, prayer-directed people of God willing to listen to God in the process of seeking a new pastor.
        2. A Time Commitment to serve until the process is completed which may be from 9-24 months. Besides frequent meetings, members take on added responsibilities to contact applicants and references, read profiles, etc. They must also be willing to travel to hear prospective pastors preach.
        3. A Commitment to Confidentiality to not share the content of their work.
        4. A Commitment to Openness to genuine consideration of all candidates.
        5. A Commitment to Consensus. Members need to be of one mind in recommending their prospective pastor to the congregation.

      Please take all of these attributes into prayerful consideration as you submit your nomination. This is a huge responsibility. Nominations can be emailed to Karin in the church office at or dropped off in the box in the office. Deadline for nominations is Sunday, July 19, 2015.

      We are also asking for a list of leadership expectations for pastors. Please mark your top 12 attributes online at and submit by July 19, 2015.

      Sincerely, Your Transition Committee

      Transition Committee Search Process Recommendations

      Transition Committee: Dan Rasmus, Chris Dawson, Joyce Cox, Jane Huneke, Kathy Bell, Roger Wilson

      Transition Committee Mission Statement:

      Provide guidance and strategic direction to the Congregation, Council and Trustees on all matters related to the transition of the Senior Pastor. The committee is not intended to lead activities or make final decisions, instead, the purpose is to look at ALL aspects of our church life to identify and prioritize the critical transition items and ensure we have a plan to address them. Among the most important goals of the committee will be to make sure the process is transparent, communication with the congregation is continual, all voices are heard, and that everyone that wants to be involved will have that opportunity.

      Background: Gene Nelson is retiring on April 24, 2016 after approximately 37 years of service as Senior Pastor. There are two primary options to consider when a Church transitions Pastors:

        • Hire a ‘Settled’ Pastor (someone who is recommended by a 12 member search committee and called by the congregation ) or
        • Hire an ‘Interim’ Pastor (someone who is trained to come in and guide the Church through the transition for 1 to 1.5 years before hiring a ‘Settled’. This person is recommended by a small search committee and is hired by Council approval on 6 month contracts).

      Transition Committee Research Activities: The Transition Committee performed a great amount of research and due diligence including both formal and informal conversations. The Committee spoke to Churches (Pastors and Lay persons) involved in both Interim and Settled transitions as well as researching articles and reports relative to both transition types. Additionally, discussions were held with various members of the congregation, staff, and conference staff with knowledge of our Church. The congregation was encouraged to talk to one of the committee members/members at large and invited to several ‘listening’ sessions. A handful of members spoke informally to committee members and over 40 members attended one of several listening/informational sessions hosted by the committee. The transition committee took all of the information into consideration.


      The Transition Committee recommends that Council approve that The Community Church of Sebastopol (UCC):

        1. Pursue a Settled Pastor to replace Gene Nelson and that we begin a Search Committee formation and listening process immediately. APPROVED
        2. If #1 is approved, the Search Committee formation process follows the guidelines as described in the “Search Committee Nominations” document. APPROVED

        3. Additional Recommendations:

        4. An Interim Search Committee should be formed if a quality candidate is not selected (or perhaps called) by March 20, 2016. The Search Committee continues the search process.
        5. Consultant and Visiting Preachers should be recruited/hired to fill the Summer void if the Interim or Settled is unable to start until August, 2016.
        6. A consultant should be considered to assist the search committee in creating a Church Profile/Senior Pastor characteristics. This may include a focused listening process with the Congregation to identify issues, trends and visions.
        7. A consultant should be considered to assist the new pastor with the visioning process if the new pastor believes it would be helpful to his/her beginnings.

        Recommended Time line (if Settled is approved):

          • Early/Mid July - Search Committee Process Begins
          • Mid-July to Early August - Search Committee Approved/Congregational Vote. Listening Process begins (Surveys, meetings, ..)
          • August to February - Search Committee activities
          • February - Final Decision on candidate
          • March - Congregation Vote on new Sr. Pastor, Call.
          • March –Begin pursuing Interim search if Settled Pastor does not occur. Identify visiting preachers and/or consultants
          • April – Hire Consultant and Visiting Preachers
          • April, May, June, July or August - Sr. Pastor starts transition
          • April 28 - Gene retires
          • Early/Mid-August – The latest date an Interim or Settled can start

        June 18 at 7 pm in the sanctuary

        Next steps for the Community Church: with Rev. Drew Nettinga of our UCC conference staff - possibilities for church transition.

        The Transition Committee Needs your help!

        It is exciting to be part of a church community where each of us has a voice in the important decisions that will shape the future of our church family. And while it is exciting, it is also an important part of our responsibility to each other and our church community that we take an active role in this process.

        The Transition Committee has been created and charged by the Church Council to study the critical issues of this transition and make recommendations to the Church Council. We have been busy working through some of the challenging issues, talking to clergy and lay church leadership, both locally and within the Northern California Conference, as well as reviewing various reports and studies on this topic. We want to share with you our current thinking, and engage you in a discussion about some immediate recommendation we need to make to the Church Council.

        We have invited Rev. Drew Nettinga the Associate Minister of the Northern California Conference to join us Thursday evening, June 18th. Rev. Nettinga will share with us his considerable expertise on Church transitions in the Northern California Conference, and will be able to help us create a path moving forward. We will also share the current recommendations the Transition Committee are developing. Our expectation is that while we have expertise helping us, and the committee is formulating a direction, we need to have input from the congregation that will assure a successful transition process.

        Join us Thursday night June 18th at 7 pm at the church for this important meeting. Please contact any of the Transition Team members with any questions: Chris Dawson, Dan Rasmus, Kathy Bell, Jane Huneke, Joyce Cox and Roger Wilson.


        The Transition Committee has met now three times, including an hour-long meeting by phone with Drew Nettinga, the associate Conference Minister.

        While the scope of our assignment is to look at ALL issues as they might relate to the transition process, our initial focus is on identifying a plan and general time line for the next year that we can present to the Church Council. Our starting point is Gene’s retirement at the end of April 2016, and we work the plan back from that date.

        The First Congregational Church of Berkeley is in a similar transition process with the retirement of their long-time minister. They are in the final selection phase, so they are some months ahead of us and can serve as a valuable model for our planning process. We continue our research this week with committee members talking with folks from the First Berkeley church about their process and lessons learned.

        We expect to bring a proposal to the May 27th Church Council meeting outlining a general plan and time line for the coming year. Our recommendation to the Council will be to accept the proposal at the May meeting, and then spend the next few weeks presenting it to the congregation for review and discussion. We would make adjusts to the plan as needed based on input during this period and then ask the Church Council for final approval at the June meeting.