In this novel Tim Owens presents an affectionate portrait of the people and places of eastern North Carolina. When a small North Carolina Presbyterian church east of I-95 needs a new pastor, the church does what churches do: they appoint a search committee to screen applications and visit the best candidates. The seven parishioners on the committee represent all types of people in the church: they are young and old, long-time locals and newcomers, single, married, and widowed. Most Sundays between the spring and early fall they pack themselves into the church’s Econoline van and drive around the state visiting preachers who are looking to move to a new church.
Much of the story is revealed through the musings of a young married man, Travis Booth. Through him readers ponder how difficult it is for seven strangers to slip into the Sunday service of a small church without being noticed, what hymn selection might indicate about the preacher’s liturgical style, and whether pew cushions are worth the expense. While most chapters begin with a brief selection from a Presbyterian catechism or confessional document and the book includes sermon excerpts that will make some regular church goers smile, the novel is not so much about the church as it is about the people on the search committee. Each person carries a long-term sorrow or is facing a problem that is revealed as the novel unfolds. Readers will root for these nice people to find grace and healing as much as they wait to see if the search for a minister will be successful.
Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.