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Transition at Union Church

July 2, 2024

Dear Members of Union Church,

I wanted to let you know that the Team of 7* is actively moving the transition process forward.

We have to date:

  • Developed plans for celebrating Mike’s ministry together
  • Met with transitional consultant Reverend Dr. Jan Nolting Carter of Transitional Ministry Pathways for guidance in thinking through the transition
  • Met with UCC Associate Conference Minister, Shernell Edney Stilley, and have another meeting scheduled for July 24
  • Scheduled a weekend with Jan Nolting Carter July 13-14 where she will educate leadership about transitional processes and answer questions of staff, leadership, and the congregation

We are convinced of several things:

  • God will be with us through this transition. While we may wish to know the exact timing of things, if we are intentional, prayerful, and working together, the process will unfold in the right way.
  • Transition involves a process of identifying who we have been, where we are now, and where God is calling us into the next chapter of our congregation’s life together. Once we know where we want to go as a church, we can search for the right person to lead us.
  • The process must be engaged in a timely manner.

What can you do right now?

  • Attend 10:00 worship on July 14 and stay for the Transition Question and Answer Time, 11:15-12:00, a time for the congregation to learn more from Jan.
  • Plan to attend the Backyard Dessert Reception and Celebration with Mike and Janine, on July 24, 6:30 to 8:00 pm hosted by Mary Sue and Jim Honigschmidt, 222 N. Adams, Hinsdale.
  • Plan to attend worship and Mike’s last sermon on Sunday, August 11, and our celebration in Rowell Hall immediately after the 10:00 am service.
  • Watch for our regular communications about the transition and its process. Note the new “Transition…” tab on our website home page: https://hinsdale.church/
  • Keep Union Church staff, ministries, and our time of transition in your prayers.

 

Very sincerely,

Mary Sue

Moderator, Union Church of Hinsdale
Cell: 630-235-0738
Home: 630-986-1853
marysue@red-works.com

New Minister Search – Update

Dear Members of Union Church,

I have formed a “Team of 7” people to initially guide us in this time of transition leading to our search for a new Senior Minister:

  • Mary Sue Honigschmidt, Moderator
  • Penny Davey, Vice-Moderator
  • Laurie McMahon, Clerk
  • Kevin Manning, Treasurer
  • Christy Weimer, Assistant Treasurer
  • Cindy Klima, Chair of Trustees
  • Claudine Altenbern, Chair of Human Resources

I would like to outline for you what we have begun to plan.

At Mike’s suggestion, we have hired a capable consultant who specializes in transitional ministries, Jan Nolting Carter. Her guidance has been invaluable. We have already begun to make plans and we will continue to keep you updated as we move forward.

Our church staff and associate clergy are very important to us. We want to support them through the transition process. HR (Human Resources) will be meeting with the staff on Tuesday to determine just how the work of the church will be accomplished after Mike leaves. There is much planning to be done.

HR- Human Resources is made up of:

  • Claudine Altenbern, Chair
  • Penny Davey, also Vice Moderator
  • Ed Spacapan, former Moderator
  • Nadine Woodle, former Moderator
  • Ha-Andza Young, new member
  • Mary Sue Honigschmidt, Moderator

As part of the “Roar” series this summer, Mike had invited Jan Nolting Carter to preach on Sunday, July 14. We have asked Jan to come a day early, as a consultant, to educate all of us about the goals and possibilities of an effective transition to a new pastor. Our weekend plans are as follows:

Saturday, July 13

10:00-11:30 am

Jan meets with Church Staff and Associate Pastors to discuss their roles during the transition

12:00-3:30 pm

Jan meets with Executive Council and HR for a more in-depth discussion of the transition and hiring of a new senior minister; buffet lunch

Sunday, July 14

10:00-11:00 am

Jan will preach at the 10:00n am service

11:15-12:00 pm

Jan will meet with the entire congregation to discuss the process and answer questions

 

When we meet with Jan Nolting Carter on July 13-14, we will learn a lot, including the possibilities before us. We want our transition to a new pastor to be thoughtful and intentional. For simplicity, I, Mary Sue, as Moderator, will be the coordinator between staff, leadership, and the congregation as we go through this process. If you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns, please, please do not hesitate to call me or send me an email. I would love to hear from you.

We have important work before us.

Very sincerely,

Mary Sue

Moderator, Union Church of Hinsdale
Cell: 630-235-0738
Home: 630-986-1853
marysue@red-works.com

June 12, 2024

Fellow Members of Union Church,

For over a decade, Union Church has been very fortunate to benefit from the ministry of the Rev. Dr. J. Michael Solberg. Mike has led us, taught us, cared for us, and inspired us. His many talents and personal qualities have helped to make our church stronger. He has connected us to fellow Christians in Angola, challenged us to work with closer neighbors as we have strived to accomplish the goal of quality preschool for all, and supported us to be able to officially become an even more welcoming body of Christ. On our journey to understand faith and our place in the world as Christians, we have been energized by the steering and stirring of Mike’s ministry.

As Mike accepts a new call for his ministry and he and Janine move closer to their family, it is not easy to say farewell. We care for them and support them in this move. We celebrate the United Church of Christ’s respect for a minister’s ability to choose where to live and serve. We will draw upon our congregational strength as we anticipate this time of transition.

We, the members of Executive Council, will lay out the next steps and set plans in motion for the call of a new Senior Minister. We and the church staff will collaborate to assure continuation of the work and needs of the congregation. Look to hear from us again on these matters by the end of June.

Union Church will continue to move forward, building on Mike’s leadership of the past 11 years and the foundation of over 150 years of our church ministry. Union Church is strong and will continue to build in faith and vision for how God’s work can be accomplished. We can look forward to continued growth and service.

As we take on our next tasks, we know you will join us in wishing Mike and Janine the very best for their next phase of life and service. Parting will be tender. We’ll be planning some leave-taking events, and will announce those opportunities soon.

Our gratitude for all of Mikes’ work with us is deep, as is the sincerity we feel in wishing him well as his and our faith journeys continue.

In the connected love of Christ,
Union Church Executive Council Members

June 12, 2024

Dear People of Union Church,

With great gratitude for the privilege of serving this wonderful congregation for the past eleven years, I am writing to inform you that I have accepted a call to become the Transitional/Interim Senior Minister at First Church (UCC), Cambridge, Massachusetts. My final Sunday here at Union Church will be August 11.

I am so grateful for the work we have done together over the last several years. I believe the congregation has grown in faith and discipleship, and although facing significant societal headwinds, we are moving forward as a truly healthy, hopeful, and flourishing congregation. We have experienced the joy of the Gospel and faced important and difficult issues head on. I have appreciated the opportunity to care for you in tender moments, and to be cared for as well. With fantastic lay leadership and a strong staff, you are well positioned to follow God’s lead into the future.

My decision to leave is primarily based on my sense that God is leading me to a new place. While I do certainly mean that spiritually, I don’t mean it “magically.” In this, as in many important things, I have found God’s guidance to be subtle. Perhaps surprisingly, given how many things are “percolating” in the church, I have a sense of completion about my ministry here. Certainly the work is not finished – ministry and discipleship never are – but I feel I have been of good use and now it is time to allow the congregation to be blessed by the faith, priorities, and skills of another Sr. Minister. Family considerations have also come into play, as Janine and I think it is important for us to be closer to at least one of our children at this point in our lives.

Of course, I also have a real sense of grief about leaving. I love and respect you, and you have been great partners on my own journey of faith. I will miss you deeply. I also recognize with a heavy heart the grief and concern for the future many of you will feel. I know, however, that you are in the best hands possible, God’s hands, and God will be with you in all things. You are also in the hands and hearts of a wonderful group of leaders, who will guide you in making good decisions, both in the short term and long term.

A letter from the Executive Council is also included here (see other side), and for the most part, information about “what comes next” will be coming directly from them. I will be focusing on closing off my ministry here and saying healthy goodbyes.

With more warmth and gratitude than ever, I say, may the peace of Christ be with you.

Peace,

Mike Solberg