FAQs for Pastoral Transition at Westminster: September 2018

To our Westminster family and friends:

God already knows who our next senior pastor and head of staff will be. They don’t know yet and we don’t know yet—and we simply can’t rush that process. But we pray to listen and discern in great faith (and patience!) as we take steps towards calling someone. Westminster has done this many times before, and we can do this again. We are a lay-led congregation, and we are inviting someone to be a part of who we are and call us to new growth.

-Steve Baron, elder for personnel and Westminster member since 1991


Now that Chandler has retired, what will his relationship with Westminster be moving forward?

Presbytery rules dictate that a departing head of staff does need to maintain distance from the church. To that end, Chandler will not perform funerals, baptisms, or weddings, or any other official acts of ministry. Chandler sees a role model in our most recent pastor, Riley Jensen, whom Chandler describes as “very thoughtful and gracious and circumspect in the space he allowed me as the new head of staff.” 

Who will take on the senior pastor and head of staff responsibilities during the interim period? (In other words, are we going to have "an interim pastor" like we've had in the past?)

Together, the personnel committee and the Presbytery Committee on Ministry have determined a plan for our interim period until the next senior pastor and head of staff is called. The senior pastor is primarily responsible for three areas: 1) session, 2) staff, and 3) worship. During the interim period, Rev. Jen Porter, Associate Pastor, will serve as interim moderator of session. Rev. David Baak, Executive Pastor, will serve as interim head of staff. The personnel committee will invite guest preachers to fill one or multiple weeks in a row to lead us in worship. Click here to see Chandler explain his role and how it will be filled during the interim period.

Who will be preaching on Sunday mornings?

In addition to our own preaching team on staff, we will be hosting guest preachers during the transition period. A special taskforce is compiling names of guest preachers to invite, and our worship committee will facilitate welcoming our guests. You can learn more about this fall's preaching schedule and meet our first three guest preachers here.

What are the next steps for calling a senior pastor and head of staff?

PC(USA) guidelines deterred us from moving forward until Chandler officially retired. The existing nominating committee has now called members to serve on the pastor nominating committee, or PNC. The average length of time for the PNC’s work is 18-24 months. (More on that below!) As a part of their process, the PNC will reflect on the strengths of Westminster: who we are, ways we are strong and healthy, and ways we can continue to move forward. Their process includes a mission study, a review of the church’s vision statement, and completing a Church Information Form, a congregational profile that describes the values, missions, and intention of the church.

How was the pastor nominating committee, or PNC, created?
The members of the PNC were initially called by our nominating committee. Our nominating committee exists year-round to call elders, deacons, trustees, and Memorial Trust members to ministry at Westminster. Mary Jane Lamse is the current elder for the nominating committee, and these committee members are elected each year at our congregational meeting.

Over the summer, the nominating committee called members of the pastor nominating committee, or PNC. The PNC is an intentionally diverse group of people, reflecting the variety of experiences, ages, and backgrounds of our Westminster family. In early September, the nominating committee presented the slate of nominees to session, which unanimously approved the names. Then session called a special congregational meeting fro Sunday, September 23, and the congregation will vote to elect the PNC and commission its work. 

How long will the PNC process take?

The average length of time for the PNC’s work is 18-24 months. It is important to remember that we are not simply hiring our next senior pastor and head of staff, but listening carefully to God’s leading and calling someone to this ministry. We are not only listening to a call from God, but waiting for God to speak to our next senior pastor. This period of discernment and hard work on the PNC’s part (and so many others) will require patience and prayerful support from all of us.

How do I share my feelings about what I’d like to see in our next senior pastor?

This process will absolutely include reaching out to the Westminster community for input. (In fact, there’s even a form for that!) Once the PNC begins their work in October, you will also be able to contact the committee directly.