Dear St. Andrew’s family: I was asked by Session to write the cover letter for this installment of the St. Andrew’s newsletter, a rather daunting task, and asked if I would bring the congregation ‘up to speed’ on our mission to call a new pastor. During the course of preparation for it, I became increasingly excited about the journey set before us. I kept going back to one of Bryan and my favorite things to do …. hop in his truck and just drive, oftentimes no specific destination in sight or mind, but excitement of the journey and what is at its end. I feel very similar in our journey ahead at St. Andrew’s. We have no idea where it will go, and where and when it will end …. BUT GOD DOES! HE already knows who HE will lead to us. Do you trust God? Do you understand that HE will guide someone to us for a purpose, HIS purpose.
Some of us have been at St. Andrew’s to experience all pastors called to our church. Each pastor has been distinctively different – style, mannerism, program, skills – but ALL of them loved our Lord and were driven to share, teach, give unselfishly, and nurture us in their own way. And they have all been human, something we often times forget. I have been able to learn much from all of them as they have all been teachers of the Word and zealous for the Lord. As an educator, I learned very early on, that if I could walk away from a course/teacher/experience by learning JUST ONE THING, then it was a successful venture. I think one can apply that every single Sunday. Certainly, there are Sundays where one’s mind wanders over worries, or events later in the day, humanness. But I would challenge you to look back at that Sunday morning and you’d find that a Confession was especially meaningful, the Bell Choir was beautiful, one line in the sermon particularly hit home. God has called these teacher leaders to us; it is up to US to find meaning for that.
One thing is certain; we need to hurry, but take our time. Hurry because we are so anxious to see that new path before us, but take our time so that we can experience all that God has in store for us. HE will help us determine our strengths and our weaknesses, help us to see what it is we need in our new pastor even though HE ALREADY KNOWS! HE will help us explore our many skills within our congregation; see what our deep needs are and let us help ourselves until the time comes to call a new leader. Let’s enjoy this time looking forward, rather like Christmas … the anticipation. And let’s not forget that there is something to take away from the experience EVERY SINGLE TIME we gather together to worship HIM. I challenge you to FIND that bright nugget every Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday …. Everyday!
Session has appointed an Interim Selection Team to work with Presbytery and is exploring options for leadership during the upcoming months. It might mean bringing an interim to St. Andrew’s; it might mean looking at talents within and outside of St. Andrew’s.
As this newsletter goes ‘to press’, Session and the Commission on Ministry (COM) have approved candidates for the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC). The candidates must be actively participating in the life of St. Andrew’s. These candidates, and others that may be brought forward, will be voted on and elected at a Special Congregational Meeting on November 12, immediately following worship. After election, with the help of COM and the entire active congregation, the PNC will begin a study to determine what the strengths, weaknesses, wants and needs are for St. Andrew’s. This sometimes takes quite a bit of canvassing, listening and learning, but our voices will be heard. No one can be all things to all people, but the PNC tries very hard to accommodate all persons.
Once the Mission Study is complete, it is entered into a data bank where St. Andrew’s wants and needs are ranked by importance. This hierarchy is then matched to potential Presbyterian Pastor Information Files. These feature the ranking of importance of programs, strengths, and weaknesses of potential pastors who are looking for us as well. It is the task of the PNC to search through those PIFs, which includes a resume, to find those pastors that they would like to know more about. This leads to interviews, sometimes face to face, sometimes initially via Skype or FaceTime. When the candidates have been sufficiently vetted, it is up to the PNC to rank those that they feel are the ’cream of the crop’. Then the Pastor candidate’s sermon style is scrutinized, and the PNC might travel to hear her/him.
Center to this entire process is prayer … yours, mine, the PNC’s, and the candidates. After much prayerful consideration, a nominee is chosen for the congregation to hear and vote on. If the congregation is in agreement, then a Call is extended to that Pastor. It is a tried and true process, an efficient one as well. However, it is not a quick process. It takes time for the PNC to listen to the congregation, go through potentially hundreds of resumes, get to know the best of those pastoral candidates well enough to recommend one of them to the St. Andrew’s congregation. A great deal of praying will have gone on. But through it all ….. GOD ALREADY KNOWS. It is up to us to explore OUR OWN strengths and weaknesses, pray about them, have patience knowing the PNC is working diligently and prayerfully, and find the nuggets that God provides every single day, until HIS choice for St. Andrew’s Pastor is brought forth.
Blessings EVERY SINGLE DAY –
Phidge Howe Clerk of Session