What the search committee saw in the nominee
“We saw in Terri that unique combination of pastoral, leadership, active presence in all expressions of the Church and administrative experience that the search committee believed was most needed,” said Search Committee Chair Jackie Bunch. “She has experience as a local pastor, theologian and leader.
“The committee particularly noted her skills in discernment, spiritual discipline and proclamation of the Word, but also as a listener.”
Bunch continued, “The search committee recognized that leading the Church in this day and age requires a certain business acumen as well as a heart for ministry. We see that Terri brings that special mix of academic, executive and pastoral qualities that are required for leading the Disciples through this time in our North American culture. She has a background of bringing together diverse groups for dialogue that will serve the Church well.”
The General Board voted to forward the name of Rev. Teresa (Terri) Hord Owens to the 2017 General Assembly as the nominee for General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
A Disciple since young adulthood, Hord Owens is currently dean of students at the University of Chicago Divinity School and pastor of First Christian Church of Downers Grove, IL.
Search Committee Chair Jackie Bunch reviewed the process for the General Board before the members of the board had the opportunity to meet Hord Owens in small groups and in the plenary. Of more than 40 people recommended last summer, nine were screened in accordance with the executive search process. Four were then interviewed in person in October by the search committee. Just prior to the General Board meeting, three candidates were interviewed by the Administrative Committee to determine which candidate to recommend to the board.
Rev. Owens is widely sought after as a preacher, speaker and workshop facilitator. Her ministry and intellectual interests include a theology of reconciliation, cultural intelligence, developing inclusive and multi-cultural congregations, and the mentoring of youth and young adults. She is married to Walter Owens, Jr., with whom she will soon celebrate 30 years of marriage. They are the proud parents of an adult son, W. Mitchell Owens, III.
How the search committee process worked
The Search Committee followed the Executive Search Model which is intended to cast a wide net for potential candidates. First they started with anti-racism training and covenanted to pray each Wednesday morning, not only for the process but for the person God was calling to lead Christ’s Church.
The Search Committee launched a Church-wide survey on Feb. 12, 2016, intended to allow the committee the opportunity to listen to and hear from the Church. The survey had more than 1,600 responses with some in each language offered – English, Korean, Spanish and French. Just over half of the respondents identified as clergy and five identified as under 18.
A job description was crafted based on that feedback and, after being approved by the Administrative Committee, the position description was posted on May 19, 2016.
The committee received more than 40 nominations/recommendations. Each person was contacted and informed they were nominated. A link to the description and listing of application materials was provided and each was invited each to be in prayer and discernment about God’s call on his/her life. Applications were due July 10, 2016. Notices were posted on the website of the progress of the committee’s work along with e-mails to individuals who had requested updates on the process.
Nine names were screened by a professional human resources person outside the denomination in accordance with the search model. The search committee met to go over the applications. After much discussion, the committee used a rubric matrix based on the feedback from the all-Church survey to identify the top four candidates to interview. It was only then that the committee interviewed the top four candidates in October. Three were forwarded to the Administrative Committee and on Feb. 24 the vote was taken on which to present to the General Board.
It has been confirmed by her physician that she is healthy enough to serve as General Minister & President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).