Dear Member of First Congregational Church of Fresno, UCC,
The Pastoral Search Committee, following UCC protocol, has selected and is excited to have you become acquainted with Rev. Raygan Baker. The Church Council has approved Rev. Raygan to visit the Big Red Campus and we are all hopeful that he will accept the challenge to lead this great church both spiritually and administratively through the coming years.
Although the Search Committee members spent more than 14 months culling Rev. Raygan from a large number of applicants anxious to come to our church, we have only this short letter and Rev. Baker’s “call sermon”, to be given on Sunday, April 15th, to encourage you to vote for his favorable acceptance.
Rev. Raygan is a graduate of Seattle Pacific University with bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration and Christian Theology, as well as Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina where he earned a Master of Divinity. He was graduated Magna Cum Laude from both universities and earned an Outstanding Leadership Award from Seattle Pacific and was named a distinguished service scholar at Duke Divinity School for his work in and beyond the classroom. While in seminary, Raygan served the church in many settings, from outdoor ministries in Yellowstone National Park, to a recent church plant focused on reaching people who are typically excluded from churches, to the 1000+ member United Church of Chapel Hill, where he worked in multiple roles and ministries, and where he was ordained.
Pastor Baker is currently serving as a superlatively qualified Designated Minister of Children, Youth, and Young Adults at Bethel United Church of Christ in Evansville, Indiana, where he has helped develop a comprehensive faith formation sequence, and has brought a revitalizing energy to each area of responsibility while also connecting these distinct ministries to the heart and mission of the whole church. At this same church, Rev. Baker also embraced the role of Acting Senior Minister for a four-month period during a transition in leadership. In this position, he fostered a culture of excitement, curiosity, and anticipation for worship among his congregation through his actions and meaningful weekly sermons. Additionally, he received four new members and nurtured the church through pastoral care, baptismal and funeral services. In this role, he also provided stability as Head of Staff, and led the congregation into a successful $500,000 renovation project.
One of many ways that the Fresno community seems like an ideal fit for Rev. Baker, is that farming is second nature to him. He was raised in the apple growing area of central Washington State, and as a youth worked many hours in his family’s orchard.
It’s critically important that each member of our Church joins the Pastoral Search Committee in support of Rev. Baker at his “Call Service” on April 15, 2018 at 10 o’clock at the Big Red Church. At that time, all members will have the opportunity, and are encouraged, to cast their vote to welcome Rev. Baker to our pulpit and community.
Lew Wagman, Chairman of the Search Committee