FAQs for Pastoral Transition at Westminster

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

Who takes on the senior pastor and head of staff responsibilities during the transition? Why don't we have a traditional "interim pastor" like we've had in the past?

Upon the advice and approval of the Presbytery Committee on Ministry, Westminster is taking a more non-traditional approach to our period of transition. The senior pastor and head of staff is primarily responsible for three areas: 1) session, 2) staff, and 3) worship. During the transition, Rev. Jen Porter, Associate Pastor for Faith Formation and Pastoral Care, is serving as interim moderator of session; Rev. David Baak, Executive Pastor, is serving as interim head of staff. The personnel committee and a special taskforce is inviting guest preachers to fill one or multiple weeks to lead us in worship and preach.


Who will be preaching on Sunday mornings?

In addition to our own preachers on staff, we are hosting guest preachers. Some may be here for one week or others for a series of weeks. A special taskforce is compiling names of guest preachers to invite, and our worship committee is facilitating the welcome and hosting of our guests.


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

The average length of time for the work of the pastor nominating committee, or PNC, is 18-24 months. (More on that below!) As a part of their process, the PNC reflects 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 Ministry Information Form, a congregational profile that describes the values, missions, and intention of the church. This will absolutely include input from the congregation.


How was the pastor nominating committee, or PNC, created?

The members of the PNC were initially called by our year-round nominating committee. Our nominating committee (elected each year at our congregational meeting) calls elders, deacons, trustees, and Memorial Trust members to ministry at Westminster—and sometimes a pastor nominating committee!

In early September, the nominating committee presented the slate of PNC nominees to session, which unanimously approved the names. Then session called a special congregational meeting and the congregation voted on September 23 to elect these members of the PNC. We commissioned the PNC in our worship service on Sunday, September 30.


Who are the members of the pastor nominating committee?

For the PNC, the nominating committee called an intentionally diverse group of people, reflecting the variety of experiences, ages, and backgrounds of our Westminster family. The members are Philip Gibson, Mari Beth Jelks, Pat Macholan, Mark Ogland Hand, Ben Pipher, Jana Potoka, Kent Riddle, Christy Roosien, Ellen Shupe, Ed Vander Ploeg (personnel committee representative), and Sherrill Vore. Jud Ross is the liaison with the Presbytery Committee on Ministry. They began meeting in October 2018 on a weekly basis. 



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 include opportunities to reach out to the Westminster community for input. (In fact, there’s even a form for that!) You may contact the PNC directly at pnc@wpcgr.org.


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 described as “very thoughtful and gracious and circumspect in the space he allowed me as the new head of staff.”

Updated October 2018