I will start with my conclusion:
All 3 candidates for the presidency of Starr King are academics. Just because they happen to also be ministers does not change the fact they they were candidates for an ACADEMIC job, NOT a pastoral/congregational ministry job.
ok friends, here’s the deal. There must be a wall of separation between the congregation and the academy. And it is to the benefit of both that the wall be there.
The academy must be allowed to push people out of every comfort zone they have by exposing them to the variety of thought and practice out there. The academy has the obligation to analyze and present its findings to the community of interested entities. It is also the repository for collective knowledge (in a way the the congregation can’t be). It nourishes people in one way.
The congregation’s job is different. The congregation’s job is to build people up AND challenge them to put that building up into practice in the wider community. It nourishes people in a different way.
This is not to say that the academy doesn’t do the things that congregations do or that congregations don’t do things that the academy does. They can and they do, but they are secondary to their primary function.
The search process for the leader of an ACADEMIC institution is going to look different than, and be different than, the search process for a CONGREGATION. To not recognize that the academy has different needs and different functions than the congregation does a disservice to both.
more later (including an Earlham story).
[special thanks to Elz Curtiss for making me clarify what my position is.]