What is the role of the Transition Team?
The role of the Transition Team is to address the immediate needs of the church staff following Pastor Don’s departure, ensure that day-to-day operations run smoothly, and facilitate implementation of the search process that will ultimately lead to the formation of the Pastor Nominating Committee. The LCPC Session has designated Elders Elizabeth Barickman, Dick Carr, Kevin Liguori, and Gerry Nelson as the Transition Team.
Who will be preaching at worship services?
Pastors Anne Havrilla and Steve Janssen will continue to preach in rotation at LCPC along with guest preachers from the community. Currently, Pastor Peter Pendell is joining us at LCPC as guest preacher during the Advent and Christmas season and into the New Year. Peter was ordained in the Conservative Baptist Church America and in the Christian and Missionary Alliance; he is a former Senior Pastor of Millington Baptist Church.
Has Pastor Anne’s role changed?
No. As Associate Pastor, Anne Havrilla’s primary areas of ministry include Spiritual Formation for adults and pastoral care. Pastor Anne also leads worship and serves as preacher in rotation with the other pastors.
What is Steve Janssen’s status in ECO?
Steve Janssen was engaged by LCPC as studentLIFE Pastor and oversees the middle and high school youth programs. Previously ordained by another Christian denomination, Steve appropriately uses the title Pastor in his work at LCPC, leads worship, and delivers sermons on a regular basis. Steve is not a clergy member of either the PC(USA) or ECO.
Pastor Steve has recently been wearing a robe and stole at Traditional Worship services. Does this indicate a change in his status?
No. The black robe traditionally worn by Presbyterian (and many other Protestant clergy) when participating in worship services is actually an academic gown similar to that worn by many of us when graduating from college. Wearing one indicates that Protestant churches acknowledge the education of their clergy. The stole, often worn with the academic gown, is an indicator of ordination as Christian clergy and also is worn by pastors in many Protestant denominations. By wearing the robe and stole, Steve is honoring our Presbyterian tradition.
Why is Pastor Steve now officiating at communion when he previously had not done so?
PC(USA) Presbyteries long have had the ability to authorize non-Presbyterian clergy and selected and trained lay-persons to perform pastoral duties in PC(USA) churches, including officiating at Holy Communion. ECO has permitted sessions to assume some of the responsibilities that had been the province of PC(USA) Presbyteries. After consulting with the officers of LCPC’s ECO Presbytery, the LCPC Session examined Steve Janssen regarding his adoption of the ECO Essential Tenets (a brief summary of ECO theology) and his understanding of the Reformed tradition regarding Holy Communion and, based on that examination, has authorized Steve to officiate at Holy Communion celebrations.
What is the process for calling a new pastor in ECO?
The fundamentals of the selection process will be familiar:
- A period of discernment on the part of the Session and Congregation regarding the characteristics of our community, the vision and mission of our church in our community, and the characteristics required in a pastor to effectively lead the Congregation.
- Nomination and election by the Congregation of a Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC).
- Advertising the opening in venues likely to entice candidates to apply (e.g. the popular ECO website job board).
- Evaluating resumes of candidates and selecting those candidates worthy of further consideration.
- Researching candidates being considered, including checking statistics and visiting websites of churches they have previously served, listening to recorded sermons and, in some cases visiting their current churches to observe them at work.
- Selecting the most promising candidates for telephone and then personal interviews.
- Narrowing the field to the very most promising two or three candidates, making a final selection.
- Finally, presenting the selected candidate to the Congregation and nominating their chosen candidate at a meeting of the Congregation called to elect a new Pastor.
How long will the process take?
The pastor nominating process involves a very significant investment of time and effort on the part of a Session and PNC. There are many factors that will influence the amount of time required to complete the process. Although some ECO pastoral searches have been concluded in a period of six to nine months, others have taken a year and sometimes more. The goal is to find a good match of pastor and congregation; a poor match made in haste can prove to be very costly for both a pastor and congregation.
Does ECO require an interim pastor?
No, ECO does not require congregations to engage an interim pastor to serve for a period of time prior to the installation of a new pastor, but encourages sessions to consider whether an interim pastor is appropriate for them. An interim pastor can assist a session and congregation with the process of healing and reconciliation following the departure of a pastor, and having an interim pastor can afford a PNC the time to do a thorough job of searching for, finding, and evaluating candidates without undue pressure to complete its task. The LCPC Session is considering whether to engage an interim pastor; in its consideration, it will consult with the Ministry Partnership Team of our ECO Presbytery, the national leadership of ECO, and other similarly situated pastors and sessions.
Are we limited to considering only pastors who are clergy members of ECO?
No. Although LCPC would certainly consider candidates who are currently serving ECO churches, there is no requirement that we so limit our search. The Session has been advised by national leaders of ECO that there are often PC(USA) pastors serving in congregations or presbyteries whose circumstances preclude their moving to ECO, who frequently are interested in serving an ECO church, and who are welcome in ECO. ECO also welcomes pastors who are currently serving in other denominations in the Reformed theological tradition; the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Church in America, the Reformed Church in America, the Christian Reformed Church are examples. Pastors serving churches in other denominations may also be considered if, upon examination, an ECO presbytery determines that their theological beliefs are consistent with the ECO Confessions, Essential Tenets, and Polity (governance principles). The bottom line: there is a large universe of pastors from whom LCPC can choose a new pastor.
Has ECO provided any guidance to LCPC during this period of transition and for the search for a new pastor?
Yes. When ECO Synod Executive Dana Allin recently preached at LCPC, he used the occasion of his visit to talk with the Session. He offered the following guidance as we begin our transition to a new Pastor:
- Formal Interim Pastor arrangements are not mandatory – the Session can decide – but often are useful in pastoral transitions. ECO can provide leads to Interim candidates.
- Take the time necessary to gain broad agreement among leaders and the congregation about vision, mission, and goals of the congregation and about the behavioral characteristics of a senior pastor needed by the congregation. ECO has access to some tools for a Session and PNC to use in this process.
- Don’t act with undue haste in managing the search and selection process.
- The Session and a PNC should be connected – no waiting for white smoke from the chimney. It is appropriate for the Session to nominate the PNC (ideally of 7 to 9 members), which should not include more than two currently serving members of Session.
- The goal is to find candidates who are a good “fit” with the congregation, the community, the congregation’s formal and informal organization, and its leadership – both as they presently exist and as they are committed to become.
- Engage with the Ministry Partnership Team (MPT) of our ECO Northeast Coast Presbytery.