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On a June Sunday morning, I was introduced to the Victorian stained glass, antique woodwork, and cushioned pews of First Covenant Church. But in spite of the beauty, I preached under tension. I needed a call-and fast.

The autumn before, my church, while not actually giving me notice, had sent unmistakable signals that eleven years was, let's say, enough. So I'd been looking for eight months. One search committee had interviewed me and turned me down, and another congregation had missed issuing me a call by three votes. Now I was preaching at First Covenant.

After the service we drove to a trustee's home for dinner with the search committee. The atmosphere was different than when candidating at previous churches. Conversation flowed easily over dinner, and then, after the dishes had disappeared into the kitchen, talk shifted to the church. No obvious seam marked the passage from mere talk to serious business, but before I realized it, the interview was in progress. I wasn't performing; I ...

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