Next steps

Next steps

Thank you, everyone, for your kind and encouraging words to Cyndi and me since my announcement last Sunday of our retirement date. Although this should come as no surprise—I’ve been dropping hints for a while, now!—I realize it raises lots of “what’s next” questions. Let me try and answer a few of them.

The next step is the congregational meeting tomorrow, November 5, immediately following second service (at about 11:45 am).This will be for two purposes. First, to act on my request to dissolve the pastoral relationship with Chapel Hill, effective August 31, 2024. Second, to confirm the slate of nominees that the Session is presenting for the Pastoral Search Committee. Only active members of Chapel Hill will have “voice and vote” at that meeting, which stands to reason. But attenders are welcome as observers. For those who attend first service, a continental breakfast will be provided during the second service to make it convenient for you to remain for the meeting.

In our system of governance, the Pastoral Search Committee (PSC) reports directly to the congregation. The scope (how wide or narrow), process, timeline and every other aspect of the search is entirely within their purview. Once nominated, the PSC reports to the congregation, not the Session, and will provide regular updates on their progress and process until they are ready to present a final candidate. They will work in coordination with the appropriate committee of our presbytery.

The Session’s part in this process, per our denomination’s Book of Order, is to nominate a slate of PSC members to the congregation for their confirmation. And I can assure you, the process of selection was prayerful, deliberate, thorough, and Spirit-filled. As you will see, these nominees represent a wonderful breadth of age, experience, and worship style. I am confident you will be reassured when you see the team Session is proposing and I endorse the slate unreservedly.

After the congregational meeting, the newly formed PSC will gather and make plans to commence their work, including the election of a Chair. This person or their designee will be responsible for ongoing communication with the congregation. Because my departure date has been set, it is possible that I will overlap with the new Senior Pastor. If the search takes longer than that, the Session will make pastoral leadership arrangements for the interim period.

Many of you have asked if we may consider an internal candidate. The answer is, yes. Unlike our former denomination, our polity allows for an Associate Pastor of a congregation to be considered for the role of Senior Pastor. There are specific steps that the PSC must take to allow for that.

As for Cyndi and me, we intend to take a six-month sabbatical that will include a lot of travel. At some point, we hope to return as worshipers and servants under the leadership of our new Senior Pastor. Of course, at that time, all pastoral responsibilities, including memorials and weddings, will be under the purview of our new Senior Pastor. This is right and necessary, and any such request coming to me will be referred to that office.

I realize this might be unsettling to some. Change always is. But as I said last Sunday, I could not be more confident in the leadership of our church. Even more, I am confident in our great God who has a perfect plan and person for the next chapter in the life of this Sweetheart Church. The MOST IMPORTANT thing you could do in the coming months is PRAY! Pray that God’s hand and direction will be clear and that we will be obedient.

And…be of good cheer! AND…don’t put me out to pasture just yet! We still have a lot of work to do together.

Bless you, beloved. This is going to be exciting!

Pastor Mark

P.S. – Bookmark this link for more information, including FAQs, about our search process.