On the weekend of February 11th – 13th, we will have a candidate weekend with Matthew Tinken, candidate for our open Senior Pastor position. Matt will be visiting First Free and we are scheduling various question and answer sessions and fellowship opportunities Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday. He will also give the message on Sunday morning. The schedule for the weekend is below.

Weekend Schedule

The main events of the weekend will be “Getting to Know You” Q&A sessions with the Tinkens. With the exception of the open Q&A after church. You must register to attend by midnight on Wednesday, February 9th. Click on a link to register.

  • Friday 7 pm – 9 pm | Get to Know You Q&A | Capacity: 15 *
  • Saturday 9:30 to 11:30 am | Get to Know You Q&A with Childcare | Adult Capacity: 25 *
  • Saturday 1 pm – 3 pm | Get to Know You Q&A | On Zoom
  • Saturday 7 pm to 9 pm | Get to Know You Q&A | Capacity: 15 *
  • Sunday 11:30 – 12:30 pm | Get to Know You Q&A | (Open, no registration required)
  • Sunday 7 pm to 8:30 pm | Get to Know You Q&A | Capacity: 15 *

Matt will give the message on Sunday Morning, the 13th. The schedule for morning worship will be as normal. You can watch the worship service online or attend in person. If you’d socially-distanced seating in the balcony, sign up here.

There will also be offered a few one-on-one sessions with the Tinkens. One person (or one family) can sign up for each.

* Limited Capacity Q&As will operate under “relaxed masking guidelines.” This is different from our usual Sunday morning “strict” masking guidelines. Attendees will be seated at a safe distance, and when seated, may remove their masks if they are comfortable doing so. We hope this will allow better communication through facial expressions. More information is below.

Q&A Details

Each of the Q&As will follow the same format. 

  • Welcome activity
  • Brief intros by all attendees so Tinkens can get to know us better
  • A 30-minute “panel Q&A” with questions that have been curated by the elders; this “panel” section will be the same at every Q&A. 
  • An “open Q&A” time at each for attendees to ask follow up questions.
  • Closing comments and prayer

The Q&A on Sunday after worship will be an abbreviated version of this format.

How many should I attend?

You do not need to sign up for everything. At a minimum, please attend:

  • a) at least one of the Q&A options (or a one-on-one), and 
  • b) the Sunday morning worship service. 

If you can attend one of the longer Q&As listed under A and C above, that would allow the Tinkens to get to know you better. Please choose an option that you feel best suits you, based on your availability, comfort level with the capacity and masking guidelines for each one, and childcare needs.

At most, you may attend:

  • a) one of the longer Q&As listed under A and C above, plus 
  • b) the abbreviated Q&A listed under B above, plus 
  • c) a one-on-one. 

In other words, choose one of the longer Q&As and add on a one-on-one and/or the shortened Q&A if you want to have extended time getting to know the Tinkens.

What are our plans for COVID safety during the weekend?

When you see “relaxed masking guidelines,” we will be asking attendees to arrive with their mask on, keep it on when they are moving about, but when they are seated, they can remove their mask if they are comfortable doing so. Why? As you know, facial expressions are important for good communication. It is also helpful to see a person’s full face, at least briefly, when meeting them for the first time. During these sessions, the room will be set up with households seated at least 6 feet apart. Tinkens are comfortable with this relaxed guideline, and they both have hybrid immunity to Covid.

When you see “strict masking guidelines,” we will be following the standard procedure for Sunday morning worship services. This means that face masks are required for everyone older than 2 years old, and we encourage people to seat themselves with 6+ feet between household or friend groups.

Testing:  We encourage everyone who attends an in-person gathering to take a rapid antigen Covid test before you arrive, if you have not had a Covid infection in the last 6 weeks. (Swab your throat and nose well to ensure a good sample.) This is not a requirement, but it will help reduce the risk of possible transmission.

Illness:  If you feel at all slightly sick – a scratchy or mild sore throat, runny nose, congestion, headache, cough – please reconsider attending an in-person gathering and/or take a Covid test to verify you are negative before you attend. We want this weekend to be filled with good memories and not have a local outbreak of Covid.

About Matt

Matt’s resume, introduction letter and video can be found here.


The purpose of the candidate weekend is to get to know Matt. After the candidate weekend, the next step in the Senior Pastor hiring process will be for the members to vote whether to call Matt as our new Senior Pastor. We will, as we have of late, use electronic voting. Voting will begin on February 20th.