Story, Photos and Video by Michael Barber
When Ginny Barney and her family moved from Westfield, New Jersey to Columbus, Ohio, finding a church home was a high priority. After an extensive search, she and her family chose First Community.
Thirty-seven years later, four generations of Barneys call FCC home. “It is a family,” Ginny said. “This church is a family of families.”
“This individual will lead us for the next 20 years. Our future is bright and the world needs to know our church.”– Ginny Barney, Senior Minister Search Committee Chair
Ginny has served her community and her church on every conceivable level, from City Manager of Upper Arlington to teaching Sunday School and serving on the church Governing Board.
Still, it is clear that she considers searching for a new Senior Minister a significant responsibility.
“This is a big challenge and I don’t take it lightly,” Ginny said. “This individual will lead us for the next 20 years. Our future is bright and the world needs to know our church.”
As Chair of the Search Committee, Ginny will not be going it alone. Based on the requirements set by the Governing Board, she selected eight highly-dedicated church members to assist in the process.
“Choosing the right people was essential to our success,” Ginny said. “The Governing Board laid out a diverse group of characteristics including gender, age and activity level. These people are committed. They know that it’s going to be a long journey. They know there will be challenges.”
“When we get into the interviewing phase, it’s going to take a lot of time; time away from our families,” she said. “These people, by their very nature, don’t have extra time in their life. They’ve chosen this because it is important to them and it’s important to the church.”
One team member, relatively new to First Community, is no stranger behind the scenes of ministerial life. Barbara Burgie Satterfield was raised in the Lutheran church where her father was the minister.
“My husband and I sat and talked about what would happen with a new pastor coming in,” Barbara said. “I found God working His magic in the way that He does in my life. Ginny called to ask if I would be willing to serve. Family and time becomes a challenge, but I definitely wanted to have my voice in the decision.”
Mike Zook also embraced the opportunity after carefully considering time away from his wife, two small children and a family-owned business that relies heavily upon him.
“I felt a personal responsibility to be there on behalf of everyone in my generation,” Mike said. “This church has made me the man I am today. There have been so many things that have happened that have shaped me. I can’t imagine not being a part of this church. To have the support of everyone here is wonderful.”
The common thread running through all of their life stories is the intense desire for each committee member to give back to their church, especially after receiving personal care and support during critical times. Becki Harr recalls the day her father-in-law passed away.
“My husband called and told me to get home,” Becki said. “When I arrived, he
was standing in our kitchen with a duffle bag at his feet. Our children were already in bed. He told me not to say anything to them until I talked with Donice Wooster (former Director of Early Childhood). She helped us through a really challenging time. To know that there are people here that genuinely care about the wellbeing of my family…they all helped us get through a rough time. We felt the comforting arms as we were going through that as a family.”
Clearly a pivotal time of transition, the team has the gift of time as Dr. Richard Wing will end his 24-year tenure in August of 2017, sooner if a new hire is made.
Ginny expects to spend a great deal of this allotted time doing the one thing that effective decision makers do best – listening.
“The biggest challenge for the committee is that we listen well enough that we represent our congregation fully and that we listen well enough to the candidates that we understand who they are as individuals,” Ginny said.
Jason Barger, a participant in the process, life-long member and former Governing Board Chair, believes that the new Senior Minister must honor the tradition and history of the past, but also innovate.
“In ten years, ministry will look different,” he said. “But it will also be the same. How do we connect people to the spirit of a loving God that calls us into a relationship with each other, but also outside of the walls to serve? That alone will bring with it many new challenges that all churches are facing now.”
Ginny is firm in her belief that First Community Church will stand with its new leader as a refuge for all. “I know that across the country, the number of churches and the members in those churches are dwindling,” she said. “I see some of those smaller churches having to fold and I see our church as being that safe landing place where they can find a new church home.”
“Together, we can move forward,” she said. “The world needs us now – First Community Church – more than ever.” ♦