Saying Farewell to Ken

Sunday August 3 was a day of bittersweet celebration: The bitterness was having to say goodbye to Rev. Ken Barnes, our Interim Minister for the past two years. In that time, Ken had become much more than an “Interim.”  He had become a dear friend and a trusted leader of our community. He will be remembered fondly for many years to come.

Ken communion medium

The sweetness was that he is leaving because he has completed his mission  - – in spectacular fashion. He helped us come together and heal after a very difficult time in our church’s history. Then, he led us in re-examining who we are and what we want to be as a church. Finally, with our confidence restored, he helped us launch a search process that culminated in late June with our decision to call Rev. Tracy Barnowe as our next settled Pastor.

Moderator David Knopf presents Ken with a stole based on our "Dove' and "Earth" windows

Moderator David Knopf presents Ken with a stole based on our “Dove’ and “Earth” windows (Click to enlarge)

The service started with our presentation to Ken of a beautiful stole depicting the two windows – “Dove” and “Earth” – that define our sanctuary.  Special kudos to Judy Girard for her masterful artistry in creating this heartfelt gift.

Next Ken preached a sermon about the role of Communion as an act of shared community, illustrated, as always, with stories from his life in ministry. (Click here to hear.) Then we formed our usual family circle to celebrate communion, and it took  some creative squeezing to fit in everyone from the day’s overflowing congregation.

Finally, we performed a simple litany of closure and presented Ken with a collection of individual notes of appreciation from us all.

We Have Our New Pastor!

On June 29, our members enthusiastically approved the choice of Rev. Tracy Barnowe as the next settled Pastor of FCCSR.  Pastor Tracy was recommended by our Search Committee after a process that started exactly a year earlier with a congregational “Day of Discovery,” where we used the Appreciative Inquiry process to take a fresh, thoughtful look at the kind of church we want to be.

The service on June 29 capped a week of small group meetings and a pot-luck dinner, all intended to give folks a chance to meet Pastor Tracy informally before hearing her preach her candidate sermon. (Click here to listen to that sermon, and click here to view more pictures from candidate weekend.)

About Our New Pastor

Rev. Tracy Barnowe  has two Bachelor’s Degrees, one in French and the other in Russian with a minor in Spanish. She was a high school teacher prior to completing a Master of Divinity at Pacific School of Religion and a Maser of Arts in Biblical Studies: Old Testament from the Graduate Theological Union. She has been serving as the Interim Minister and Redeveloper at the Campbell, CA United Church of Christ since 2012.

Tracy has served several churches in northern California as Director of Family and Spiritual Director of Youth Ministries. She has wide experience in church revitalization and growth, leading several congregations through the redevelopment visioning process and development of strategic plans for growth. Course work in the areas of outreach, newcomer attraction and retention, and youth ministries have been of special focus for her.

Pastor Tracy and her daughters Rosemary (8) and Faye (10)

Pastor Tracy and her daughters Rosemary (8) and Faye (10)

Tracy has a particular gift for working with children and youth. Some of her special touches have been involving some of the older church members in sharing with the children their own personal stories of faith and church experiences from their youth as well as In her current church, she is one of the facilitators for OWL – Our Whole Lives, a curriculum in which parents and 7th-12th graders explore issues of self worth, responsibility, justice, and inclusivity. Prior to Sunday service, the children and youth join her for a blessing and prayer so they know they are a special part of the congregation.

In her Statement of Ministry, Tracy shared three things that she loves most about the ministry:

  • Helping God grow a church
  • Watching people discover the joy of discipleship
  • Heaven on Earth

She says that these things are like chocolate, caramel, and peanut butter. Individually they all work well, but put them together and you have something spectacular.

We all look forward to spectacular combinations of these ingredients in our ministry together at First Congregational Church of San Rafael.



Graduation Thought: “Get a Life”

Friends, I found  Pulitzer Prize winning author Anna Quindlen’s commencement address to Villanova University, Friday, June 23, 2000, moved me. I share it (somewhat edited) with you.



I’m a novelist. My work is human nature. Real life is all I know. Don’t ever confuse the two, your life and your work. The second is only part of the first.

A friend once wrote Senator Paul Tsongas when the senator decided not to run for reelection because he’d been diagnosed with cancer: “No man ever said on his deathbed I wish I had spent more time in the office.” Don’t ever forget the words my father sent me on a postcard last year: “If you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.” . . .

You walk out of here this afternoon with only one thing that no one else has. . . . you will be the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. . . . .

Not just your bank account, but your soul.

People don’t talk about the soul very much anymore. It’s so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit. But a resume is a cold comfort on a winter night, or when you’re sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you’ve gotten back the test results and they’re not so good.

Here is my resume: I am a good mother to three children. I have tried never to let my profession stand in the way of being a good parent. I no longer consider myself the center of the universe. I show up. I listen, I try to laugh. I am a good friend to my husband. I have tried to make marriage vows mean what they say. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh. I am a good friend to my friends, and they to me. Without them, there would be nothing to say to you today, because I would be a cardboard cutout. But I call them on the phone, and I meet them for lunch. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh.

I would be rotten, or at best mediocre at my job, if those other things (Read more . . .)

Our Profile is Complete!

If you’ve been following the process, you know that a key step in our search is the preparation of a “Local Church Profile”  (aka “The world’s Longest Want Ad.”)  This is a detailed write-up of who we are as a church, where we’re going, and what we’re looking for in our next pastor.

Click here to read the Profile online or to download your own copy.

This profile is sent to any qualified candidate who is interested in our opening. If, after reading all about us, they still think we’d be a good fit, they ask the our Conference office to send their “Pastoral Profile”  –essentially a very long, probing resumé — to the Search Committee. That’s when the search process gets exciting, but, for all the obvious reasons, that’s also when confidentiality is essential, so the Committee will only be able to share to most general sort of information on what they’re doing.

(A note to possible candidates:  You should know this already, but initial contact and submission of your profile MUST be through the Conference office. Contact Tammy Nelson, Search Coodinator at NCNC-UCC with any questions.)

Survey Results. Download Here.

We have now completed a detailed survey of the congregation:  our demographics, how we see our church, what we’re seeking in our church experience and, most importantly, the kind of person we’re seeking as our next settled Pastor.  A survey of this sort is always a vital part of the search process, but this time we’ve pursued it in more depth than usual. You may find the results interesting.

You can download a PDF of the complete results here.

Search Committee Commissioned

Our October 6 Sunday Worship service ended with the formal commissioning of our Pastoral Search Committee. As we joined hands around the Communion table, the members of the Search Committee committed themselves to the task ahead, and the rest of the congregation pledged to support and aid them in their work.

The next step in the search process will draw directly on that promised support: At our October 20 service, in place of the sermon, we will ask every adult and youth member of our church family to fill out a questionnaire that covers the kinds of people we are, our vision for the church and a profile of the pastor we’re hoping to find. Everyone will be asked to start working on the questionnaire during the service and then to complete it at home during the following week. (Surveys will be mailed to all who aren’t in church on the 20th.)

The results of this survey will form a large part of the Local Church Profile that describes our opening to potential candidates. Our goal is to tabulate the survey results, complete the rest of the writing and have the whole document ready to distribute by January 1.  We’re pushing hard to make this date, because that Search Committee cannot start reviewing candidates until the profile has been published.

(If you won’t be in church on october 20, you can get started by downloading the Questionnaire and instructions here.)

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