We think we're nearing the end of the road in the search for a pastor for Nexus church. I'm more of a deist when it comes to G-d intervening in human affairs, although I do believe in the power of prayer (more on that later if you'd like). Anyway, if I used such language, I would say that our search has been a "God thing" as they'd say at the Vineyard. We have selected a final candidate who will be leading our service this coming Sunday.
The search committee has worked so well together it's been truly amazing. We have all been of one accord since the very beginning. Our meetings have gone quickly and smoothly as we review candidates. We have each gotten almost the exact same "feeling" about candidates whether it be from reading their profiles, their emails or talking to them over the telephone. So, when we came together, after studying their profiles on our own, we just whizzed through most of our discussions. While we had several very qualified candidates and small handful that we thought would "get" Nexus, Mike has stood out from the bunch from the beginning. If you know me, you know I don't normally "gush" about someone (other than Barack Obama- ;-)) But, I'm going to gush about Mike.
Before I go to far, I want to provide you with a link where you can find some of Mike's sermons. If you're a Nexus member or a friend of Nexus who attends, please see if you can take some time to listen to one or two this week. I can recommend "Go and Learn" and "Midwife God's Future". Here is the link: Mike Underhill at Epiphany
Mike felt the call to be a minister (servant of G-d, not necessarily ordained) at an early age. But, coming out as a gay man held Mike back from being ordained. Mike has worked as a Systems Programmer, Computer Software Trainer and had a very successful career with Amoco/British Petroleum before going to seminary to be ordained. Mike's style of teaching is largely extemporaneous. He does follow the lectionary cycle and uses the scripture given as the basis for his sermons. But, after studying them he sets them aside and tailors his remarks to the concerns of the community he is preaching to. During our conversations with Mike the words ministry and discipleship came up over and over again. He wants to keep the worship relevant, fresh and to remove barriers to the non-church, and de-churched who may come into the service. When he and Vincent visited with us yesterday one of Mike's first observations was how the non-threatening environment of the YMCA might allow us to draw those who would be reluctant to "go to church". Mike gets us!
Mike's communications with us, both written and verbal have shown a level of maturity and professionalism that has been refreshing. Mike has been very responsive and truly seems excited about receiving his first call and the opportunity to work with a community like Nexus to share the good news. Mike's background in technology will be very helpful as he would be able to take on some of the duties of maintaining the website, handling electronic communications with the congregation and incorporating technology into the Sunday morning services.
I had the opportunity to have lunch with Mike and his partner Vince on Saturday. We spent a couple of hours with them and then had dinner with them before Mike and Vince joined us for Sunday morning service. Mike was very inquisitive about our church experiences, what brought us to Nexus and our vision for Nexus' future. While out shopping Saturday morning, Mike already found his first potential recruit for Nexus a woman working in one of the stores he was shopping in. And, Mike gleaned a great spiritual truth from her that he will probably be using in one his sermons in the near future. It is obvious Mike is always on the lookout to make a connection with a fellow spiritual seeker and shares our belief that G-d is still speaking because Mike heard G-d speak to him through that woman.
Mike will join us again this Sunday to lead worship. I personally, and the search committee collectively, could not be more pleased to have a candidate like Mike. We have carefully and prayerfully considered this and feel extremely comfortable recommending Mike to the congregation.