Cover Letters for Ministerial Résumés

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1 Cover Letters for Ministerial Résumés Ministry Referral Office The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Louisville, Kentucky

2 A cover letter is a brief business letter written to accompany your résumé. It is an important tool in a candidate s search for a ministry position. It serves as a means of introducing you and your résumé to a potential employer, or to a person or office that may assist you by referring your résumé. Anytime you are sending your résumé for consideration for a ministry position or mailing it to someone who will be referring it for such positions, it should be accompanied by a cover letter. This holds true whether the résumé is being sent by mail, , or fax. However, with few exceptions, it is not necessary to attach general cover letters to copies of your résumé being distributed on your behalf by a referral assistance person or service. They will write cover letters to accompany résumés they send to churches or ministry organizations. A COVER LETTER S PURPOSE As an introductory document a cover letter serves to let the reader know something about you and your interests in ministry. Its goal is to enhance a potential employer s interest in you, or to clarify your ministerial interests and preferences for someone who will be assisting with your search for a ministry opportunity. It allows you the opportunity to highlight significant items in your résumé and to present relevant information not included in your résumé. WRITING A COVER LETTER Because the cover letter will be the reader s first introduction to you, care should be taken to make it a positive first impression. The letter will not only summarize your preparation for ministry, but it will also exemplify your writing and communication skills. Careful attention to detail is important. The miscellaneous pointers which follow will help you write cover letters which can effectively communicate information about your interests in, and preparation for, ministry opportunities. The letter should be brief limited to one page and consisting of three or four targeted, carefully-worded paragraphs The letter should always be addressed to a specific person, with their title included. (An exception would be when a position announcement indicates that letters are to be addressed to a search committee.) Avoid generic salutations like To Whom It May Concern. If needed, an Internet search tool may assist you in discovering the correct spelling of names and titles. Always customize each cover letter for the situation in which you have interest. Write your letter with interest and enthusiasm, using a positive and friendly, yet business-like tone. In the main body of the text concentrate on factors most relevant to the organization and position in which you have interest. The letter should be written in a block style business letter format. Single space the text of the letter, and double space between paragraphs. Carefully proofread your letter to make sure it is free of typographical, spelling and grammatical errors. Don t just rely on your word processing spell check function to catch any errors. Ask a friend or two to also proofread the letter to check for such errors and to make certain you are clearly communicating what you intend to communicate. Print your letter on high-quality paper. White paper, or paper which matches your résumé, is appropriate. Neatly type the envelope in which the cover letter and résumé will be mailed. When faxing or ing a cover letter and résumé it is important to follow-up with a phone call to make certain they were received. Make a copy of each letter you send to keep in your files.

3 TYPES OF COVER LETTERS Cover letters can be used in different ways to respond to various situations. Ministers will often employ at least three types of cover letters in their search process. One type is the Personal Networking Cover Letter used to make contact with personal acquaintances who can assist with one s search. A second type is the Request for Referral Assistance Cover Letter written to formally request the help of referral offices or personnel in sharing a candidate s résumé for vacant ministry positions. It would typically be written to accompany one s résumé when it is being sent to referral assistance offices at seminaries or universities, to state convention churchminister relations offices, or to directors of missions in Baptist associations. A third type of letter is the Response Cover Letter which is written in reference to a specific position vacancy. It is used to respond to position announcements found posted on bulletin boards, in state convention newspapers, on Internet web sites, etc. Sample letters are included in the following pages to show how these different types of letters can be used. Candidates should remember, however, that these examples are not to be copied. Letters should be personalized and written in one s own writing style.

4 Basic Cover Letter Format Your Name Your Street Address Your City, State, Zip Code (Area) Phone Number Address Date Addressee s Name Title Organization s Name Street Address City, State Zip Code Dear Mr. Addressee: Paragraph 1: Indicate why you are writing. State the type of ministry opportunity in which you have interest. If you are requesting consideration for a position, indicate how you became aware of it. Paragraph 2: This paragraph should highlight your qualifications (skills, abilities, relevant experience, etc.) and indicate how they relate to the ministry in which you have interest. Do not simply restate information on your résumé. The purpose of this paragraph is to develop the reader s interest in reading your résumé. Paragraph 3: Refer the reader to your résumé. Clearly indicate what you are requesting of the reader. Thank the reader for his time and consideration. Closing, (your signature) Your Name Enclosure

5 Sample Letter for Personal Networking (This letter should not be copied. It is important that letters be written in your own words.) January 1, 2005 Rev. Garry Speakes Higher Heights Baptist Church 4712 Summit Avenue Knoxville, TN Dear Rev. Speakes: John R. Seminarian 1949 Ashland Road Louisville, KY (502) I hope this letter finds you and your family doing well. I am writing to request your assistance. As you know, for the last couple of years I have been working on my Master of Church Music degree at Southern Seminary. I will be completing that degree in May and I am now actively seeking a post-graduation ministry opportunity. My calling is to serve as a Minister of Worship, but I would also seriously consider a position combining worship/music ministry with discipleship responsibilities or ministry to senior adults. As you may recall, in addition to the degree I am completing at Southern, my undergraduate degree is in music education. During my college and seminary studies I have had several opportunities to gain valuable ministry experience, including a total of four years of service in two church staff roles. My educational preparation and experience have equipped me for leadership in both traditional and contemporary worship styles. I enjoy both styles of worship, and have a special interest in opportunities which would allow me to incorporate them in a blended worship format. Through your ministerial contacts I know that you may occasionally become aware of vacant ministry positions for which I would be qualified. I am enclosing a copy of my résumé to further acquaint you with the details of my preparation for ministry. If you ever have the opportunity to share my résumé with appropriate search committees, I would be very grateful. If you should need any additional copies of my résumé, or if you have any questions regarding my vocational interests, please do not hesitate to contact me. I appreciate your time and assistance. Please know of my prayers and best wishes for you and your family. Sincerely yours, (Signature) John Seminarian Enclosure

6 Sample Letter Requesting Referral Assistance (This letter should not be copied. It is important that letters be written in your own words.) Patrick Pastore 2825 Lexington Road Louisville, KY (502) April 1, 2005 Dr. B. A. Wake, Director of Missions Laguna Baptist Association 2700 Ocean Front Drive Ocean Breeze, FL Dear Dr. Wake: I am a Master of Divinity student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary scheduled to graduate in December of this year. I am writing to request your assistance in my search for a ministry opportunity. My wife and I are both native Floridians and would be delighted if the Lord should lead us to a place of service in the Florida panhandle. I am currently interested in serving as a pastor in a small to medium-sized church, but would also be interested in an opportunity to serve as an associate pastor with a larger congregation. Additionally, I would have interest in an opportunity to help plant a new church. Both my undergraduate and seminary education have focused on pastoral ministry, and I have had the opportunity to serve in both pastoral and associate roles. Although I have never participated in a new church start, I have taken two elective courses in church planting. Additionally, I have been actively involved in several outreach ministries in various situations, and have participated in neighborhood surveys where possibilities of new church starts were being explored. In your role as Director of Missions I know that you may occasionally be contacted by churches in your association seeking pastors or other staff leadership. I have enclosed a copy of my résumé in order that you might become better acquainted with my educational preparation and ministerial experience. If you should ever have any opportunities to share my résumé with churches I would greatly appreciate your help. I will plan to call your office in a few days to speak with you further about my ministry interests and to answer any questions you may have. Thank you for your assistance. May the Lord bless your ministry with Laguna Baptist Association. Sincerely, (Signature) Patrick Pastore Enclosure

7 Sample Letter Responding to Vacancy Announcement (This letter should not be copied. It is important that letters be written in your own words.) Mr. Howard Hahn, Chairman Minister to Students Search Committee Mountain Hill Baptist Church 2000 Cardinal Pike Paris, AL Dear Mr. Hahn: Fran A. Scholar 119-B Ridge Top Lane Louisville, KY (502) July 4, 2005 I am writing in reference to the Minister to Students position announcement that was posted in the Alabama Baptist newspaper. As I read the position description I was struck by the exciting and challenging nature of this ministry opportunity. I am enclosing a copy of my résumé for your consideration as a candidate for the position. Since my sophomore year of college I have felt God s clear calling to minister to youth. Through volunteer ministry, two years of service as a student ministry intern, and the past three years of serving as Minister to Youth at Providence Baptist Church, my calling has been confirmed and strengthened. I have a passion to share with young people the Good News of God s love for them, and to help nurture their spiritual development. The year of service I spent as a Campus Ministry Intern also awakened within me a desire to minister to the spiritual needs of college students. I hope the enclosed résumé will be helpful in providing you with information you need to evaluate my qualifications as a candidate. If you should need any additional information, I will be very glad to provide it. I would be delighted to speak with you in person about this position if you feel so led. Feel free to contact me at the phone number or addresses listed above. I appreciate your time and consideration. Please know of my prayers for your committee and your church as you seek the Lord s person to serve as your next Minister to Students. Sincerely, (Signature) Fran Scholar Enclosure

8 The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary 2825 Lexington Road Louisville, Kentucky (502) Visit us on the web:

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