Transition: Seeking Our Next Senior Minister

In May of 2014, Senior Minister Patricia de Jong announced her plans to retire in April of 2015. The church has set out on a path of determining how to make the transition to a new Senior Minister. This page will include articles related to the transition and the search process.

Sunday, January 15, 2017 to Sunday, January 22, 2017

Two meetings will be held to review and then vote on the First Church budget for 2017.

On Sunday, January 15, 2017 an informational meeting will be held at 11:30 am in the Sanctuary at Congregation Beth El where members of the Ministry of Stewardship, Finance and Administration (SFA) and the Budget Committee will share details about the upcoming budget.

Friday, July 1, 2016

During times of transition when the church goes through some specific processes to determine its future, it can be helpful to refer to the bylaws of the church for guidance.

Download a copy of the current bylaws (most recently amended on January 18, 2015)...

Sunday, February 7, 2016

First Church's called Senior Minister Molly Baskette will be in Berkeley to preach on Annual Meeting Sunday, February 7, 2016. One service will be held at 10 am in the Sanctuary.

After the service, we will gather for lunch in the Large Assembly. The Annual Meeting includes voting on members of Council, Ministries and other committees, celebrations of past and future leaders and entertainment.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Stewardship Chair Betsy York shared this update on the First Church's recent Pledge Campaign during both worship services on Sunday, December 20, 2015:

A few weeks ago, Shirley Henderson told me about the time she was Chair of Stewardship. It was about 30 years ago when David Rees was Senior Pastor. She asked the congregation to double their pledges…and 19 families did so.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Through the magic of technology, our called Senior Minister Molly Baskette preached in both services on Sunday, October 25 at 9 am (Large Assemble) and 11 am (Sanctuary). She connected with us via Skype and her sermons were projected on the screens in both services. Since First Church is in the middle of its stewardship season, Molly added her own reflections to that subject in a sermon entitled "Standing Naked Before Mammon" She has also written about stewardship as one of the subjects in her book Real Good Church.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Sunday, October 11 will begin the Pledge Campaign for 2016, a time when members of the First Church community are invited to consider what they are called to contribute to the financial support of the church.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015
After an extensive nation-wide search and a unanimous vote, First Congregational Church of Berkeley, United Church of Christ, has called Rev. Molly Phinney Baskette as its next Senior Minister. Molly brings passion, intellect, creativity, humor and deep faith to her ministry.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

When it became clear to the staff and Transition Action Team that the candidate for Senior Minister Molly Phinney Baskette would not be able to join us until May of 2016, they began revising the Transition Staffing and Programming Plan that was already in place.

This updated plan looks at a full range of items that are already in place or will be put in place as we move into this next phase of the transition.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Senior Minister Search Committee has enthusiastically chosen a candidate to be our next Senior Minister. This individual has signed a letter of commitment, and has expressed great enthusiasm for coming to Berkeley. The next step in the process is for the members of the congregation to meet the candidate and call this individual to the position.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

As previously reported, the Search Committee completed in-person interviews with final candidates for the Senior Minister position. The current phase involves discerning which finalist to recommend. This is followed by the Personnel Committee negotiating a letter of intent with the candidate, to reach agreement on the terms under which she/he would serve.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Search Committee completed the last of four in-person interviews this last weekend with finalists for the Senior Minister position at First Church. In each case the prospective candidates and their spouses had a tour of the church, shared an informal dinner at the home of one of the Search Committee members, preached at a “neutral pulpit” (another local UCC church) on Sunday morning and then had lunch and a two-hour interview on Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

On Sunday, April 26, 2015 Rev. Patricia de Jong led her last service as the Senior Minister of First Congregational Church of Berkeley, United Church of Christ. She had served the congregation for 21 years and had been ordained to ministry in the United Church of Christ for 35 years.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

On Sunday, April 26, 2015 Patricia de Jong will lead her last service as Senior Minister of First Congregational Church of Berkeley. One service will be held that day at 10 am in the Sanctuary.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

TONIGHT! April 25, 2015

The program celebrating Senior Minister Patricia de Jong will be webcast at 7 pm California time. Pat, who is retiring, has served First Church for 21 years. The video will also be available later on.

Click here to join us from wherever you are!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

It's not too early to save these special dates!

Mark your calendars for a celebration of the ministry of Senior Minister Patricia de Jong on Saturday, April 25, 2015, 5:30–8:30 pm at the church. Pat’s last Sunday with First Church will be April 26. On that day, one service will be held at 10 am in the Sanctuary.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

On Saturday, April 25, 2015 First Church Berkeley threw a big party to celebrate the 21-year ministry of Senior Minister Patricia de Jong. The evening, attended by about 400 people, included food and conversation, lots of performance, tributes, toasts and roasts, a presentation of gifts, lots of laughter and some tears as well.

You can watch a video of the program in the Sanctuary...

Sunday, April 26, 2015
First Congregational Church of Berkeley, UCC, invites you to an evening honoring Senior Minister Patricia de Jong on Saturday, April 25, 2015 from 5:30 to 9 pm, as she completes her long and vibrant ministry.
Sunday, April 19, 2015

You can watch the video of this conversation with Pat that took place on April 19!


During the 10 am Learning Hour on Sunday, April 19Patricia de Jong's second to last Sunday as our Senior Minister—we'll take time to celebrate and reflect on her 21 years at FCCB in a fun, free-flowing Q & A format.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Senior Minister Search Committee has been working faithfully on their task of finding First Church’s next Senior Minister. They are entering into the final phases of their process.

Currently they are interviewing four candidates who have come or are coming to the Bay Area for in-person interviews in April and May.  The candidates are preaching at “neutral pulpits” (other area UCC churches). If all goes well, the committee could be ready to make a final decision in mid-May or soon after.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

At its March meeting, Church Council unanimously approved a “transition period staffing plan” presented by the Personnel Committee to ensure
a continuity of staffing, preaching
 and pastoral care support from May 1 through the start date of a new senior minister. It is hoped that a new senior minister will be in place by fall 2015. FCCB staff has been involved in and supportive of this transition period plan. Key elements of the plan include:

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

First Church’s new Young Adult Minister, Rev. Kit Novotny will be arriving in Berkeley this week. She and her husband Nate Klug are driving out to California from Iowa. They have found a place to live in Berkeley.

Kit will attend both worship services this Sunday, March 8 and will preach during the 11 am service on Sunday, March 15.

More about Kit's call to First Church...

Saturday, February 14, 2015

As Charlotte Russell retires as of February 15, our two full-time pastors, Patricia de Jong and Rachel Bauman, will continue to serve as primary contacts for pastoral care needs for the congregation.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Senior Minister Search Committee is happy to report continued progress toward identifying a candidate to recommend to the congregation. The committee has received 41 “profiles,” or lengthy applications, including 7 from the 22 ministers who were invited to apply based on suggestions from committee members, the congregation and staff. The committee is pleased with the quality of the candidate pool. The search remains open for the time being.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

On Sunday morning, January 18, 2015 First Church Berkeley called Rev. Kit Novotny as its new Young Adult Ministry. After a nation-wide search, the Young Adult Minister Search Committee recommended Kit to the congregation. In a vote that culminated a weekend of activities, including having Kit preach in both services, the congregation voted unanimously to call her. As she returned to the Sanctuary after the vote, she was met with a standing ovation. Kit will begin her position in early March.

Sunday, January 18, 2015 to Sunday, February 1, 2015

Several important congregational meetings will be held early in 2015.

On Sunday, January 18, the congregation will meet after the 11 am service to consider calling Kit Novotny as Young Adult Minister. A vote on some bylaw changes will also be taken at that time.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A reception for Kit Novotny, the candidate for Young Adult Minister, will be held on Saturday, January 17 at 5 pm in the Small Assembly. Come meet Kit and her husband Nate Klug.

More about Kit...

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Rev. Charlotte Russell, Minister of Calling and Visitation, has announced that she will retire on Sunday, February 15, 2015.

Charlotte has been on the First Church staff for 17 years with a special emphasis on pastoral care for the elders in our congregation. She has been ordained for over 40 years.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Senior Minister position at First Church has been officially posted on the United Church of Christ website. The Senior Minister Search Committee expects to receive a first batch of profiles when it meets with Associate Conference Minister Drew Nettinga on December 15.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Senior Minister Search Committee has finalized the Church Profile with some changes based on congregational feedback and the addition of photographs.

The final document also includes active hyperlinks to connect with other background information about the church and its mission.

They have submitted all the necessary documents to the Northern California Nevada Conference and expect the position to be officially posted by December 1.

Sunday, November 23, 2014 to Friday, December 12, 2014

Times of change can be both exciting and stressful. As FCCB moves through this time of transition, we can take care of ourselves and each other by paying attention and giving voice to how the transition affects each one of us on a personal, spiritual level.

Are we experiencing grief? anticipation? concern? excitement? Or all of the above? What memories or important moments are we remembering? How is our faith informing our response?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

On Sunday, November 9, the Senior Minister Search Committee will review what they have learned from their process of gathering input from the congregation about the life of the church and hopes for the future. The event will take place during the Learning Hour at 10 am in the Large Assembly.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

After gathering input from the congregation, the Senior Minister Search Committee has completed the Church Profile that will be circulated along with the job description when the position of Senior Minister is officially announced later this month.

Download the Profile here...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Senior Minister Search Committee has now completed six listening sessions with members of the congregation and is reviewing the thoughts and themes from the conversations. 50 members of the First Church community attended one or more of the sessions. Also, the deadline for taking the congregational survey is passed and those results are being compiled as well. 120 people completed the survey.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

On  October 5, during the 10 am Learning Hour and again at noon, Rev. Drew Nettinga, Associate Conference Minister of the Northern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ will outline the search and call steps and answer questions from the congregation.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Click this link to complete the Senior Minister Search Committee Survey...


The Senior Minister Search Committee has created a survey for those active in the First Church community to share there thoughts about our church and its future leadership.

Please fill this out once. The survey is anonymous, but does ask for some demographic information.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

During the month of October, the Senior Minister Search Committee will host a series of listening sessions. The Committee will be soliciting thoughts and wisdom from the congregation to guide the search for the next Senior Minister and to prepare the Church Profile that is circulated with the job announcement.

Please come to one of these sessions to share your hopes and dreams and what you feel is important for the Search Committee to consider.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Kelly Ryan, currently serving as Young Adult Coordinator at First Church has accepted a call to be the pastor at Bethel Congregation United Church of Christ in White Salmon, Washington. On Sunday, September 14, she preached at the church and her candidacy for the position was approved unanimously by that congregation.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The First Church Green Ministry Team has written a letter to the Senior Minister Search Committee encouraging them to hold the importance of the church's commitment to the environment as they search for the church's next head of staff.

This is the text of the letter that was sent to Search Committe Chairs Milton Fujii and Becky Smith:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Young Adult Search Committee has posted the job announcement widely and they heard that candidates were sending in profiles within a few hours of the official posting. The deadline for applications is Sept. 15 and the committee will be meeting with Conference Minister Ken Iha to prepare for the review of profiles and the interview process. Debbie Woods and Troy Gilbert co-chair that committee.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

At a congregational meeting on Sunday, August 3, the Senior Minister Search Committee was elected. A slate prepared by the Committee of Involvement was accepted in an overwhelmingly positive vote.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

First Church Berkeley is seeking candidates for the position of Young Adult Minister. This is a 32-hour a week position with benefits.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Committee of Involvement (COI) was charged with recommending a slate of candidates for the Search Committee for the new Senior Minister. Over 50 people were suggested for the committee and the COI sought to create a committee that was broadly respresentative of the congregation. An eight-member committee is the size suggested by UCC search and call guidelines and the committee chose to follow that recommendation.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Young Adult Ministry Search Committee held its first meeting in early May and has since been working on updating the Church Profile and refining the Young Adult Ministry job description.

The Church Profile is a description of the church’s life and mission as well as the qualities sought in our next Young Adult Minister. This document is an important part of the UCC search process and will be a resource that candidates will use to learn more about First Church and the position.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Moderator Betsy York has also appointed a Transition Team to help oversee this period of change at First Church Berkeley.

Members of this committee are (from left to right in the photo) Nick Kukulan (Moderator Elect), Amy Hiestand (At Large), Betsy York (Moderator), Phil Porter (staff), Janet Eadie (Chair of Personnel), and Scott Sporte (Chair of Long Range Planning).

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Diversity Ministry Team has sent a letter to church leadership strongly encouraging racial diversity in the Senior Mnister Search Committee and in the search process itself. The letter was sent to the Committee of Involvement (COI) and copied to the Church Council.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Several documents related to the transition in Senior Minister leadership are collected here in one spot.

You may also find references to them in other articles about the transition.

As this process continues, we will post other related documents as they become available.

You may also pick up hard copies of any of these in the church office.

The full bylaws of First Church Berkeley

Thursday, June 19, 2014

As the Committee of Involvement (COI) begins the work of recommending a Search Committee for the Senior Minister position, it is receiving help from several sources.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The members of the Committee of Involvement (COI) are beginning the work of receiving and reviewing nominations for members for the Senior Minister Search Committee.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

In a special meeting on Monday, June 16, the Church Council voted unanimously to move forward with the Senior Minister Transition Plan proposed by the Long Range Planning and Personnel Committees.

Sunday, June 1, 2014 to Monday, June 2, 2014

In response to the announcement made by Senior Minister Patricia de Jong that she plans to retire in April of 2015, the Personnel and Long Range Planning Committees have developed a strategy to deal with this transition. The intent of the plan is to get a process started soon to maintain First Church’s strong momentum into the future. More about Pat’s retirement...

Monday, May 19, 2014

Senior Minister Patricia de Jong has shared the news with the First Church community that she plans to retire In April 2015. This will complete a 21-year ministry in Berkeley and a 35-year career as a minister in the United Church of Christ (UCC).