It is a great source of pride—I hope a sanctified sort of pride!—for us at Chapel Hill to say that we have raised up 16 young leaders to ordained pastoral ministry.
Well, I’m delighted to announce that number is about to go to 19! As of today, I have handed Julie Hawkins, Ryan Palmer, and Rachel White letters of invitation from the Session of Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church to join our staff as Assistant Pastors. Of course, all three of them are already serving on staff—and their new pastoral positions will be little changed from their present responsibilities. But as newly-minted Assistant Pastors, they will also be allowed to perform the sacraments, a very exciting and privileged moment for a young pastor.
This decision on the part of Session is an affirmation of the hard work all three of them have done in completing the ordination process, including a significant educational component. It is also an affirmation that the work each of them are doing in their respective ministries is essential to our mission; we want it to continue!
An Assistant Pastor is hired by the Session. In essence, it is an “entry-level” pastoral position. As such, they are not members of the Session as are the Associate Pastors. But this next step is an essential and exciting moment in the lives of all three of these gifted, faithful servants.
There are still a few more hoops ahead. They must complete and pass all of their ordination exams, a rigorous process, believe me! THEN, they will need to be examined by the Ministerial Committee of our Presbytery. Assuming they pass THAT exam (which we are sure they will), they will stand before the entire Presbytery on May 1-2 for their final examination. Assuming THAT goes well, we will celebrate a first-ever, three-person ordination and installation ceremony on June 18. Whew.
I hope you will take the time to congratulate each of them. You will hear more details as they develop, but I wanted to get the word out to our Sweetheart Church as soon as possible. I hope it delights you as much as it delights all of us on Session.
On a related note, this weekend we begin a five-week series on the future of our church. I’m calling this series “20/20 Vision.” For the last two years, the Lord has been guiding us through a process of dreaming and planning for our future. I hope every member and friend of this church will join us to hear what we believe to be God’s call upon Chapel Hill in the coming season.
All of this—ALL of this—is possible only because of your faithful, prayerful support. Thank you for that!
Pastor Mark Toone