Sunday, October 23rd, was our October Church Council meeting, which was a great opportunity for us to have brunch together and get an update on the work of the church. With great enthusiasm, we elected new board officers, commission chairs, and Gifts Discernment commission members, and voted unanimously to affirm the ordination of Julia Wheeler.
We then directed our attention to the pastoral staffing structure recommended by the Personnel Commission and endorsed by the Board. Personnel Commission Chair Stephanie Juillerat has shepherded this process, with Moderator Juliet Davis convening the Structure Committee that met with the staff throughout the summer. Working with Treasurer Linda Saddlemire, they recommended a sustainable pastoral staffing model that fits the needs and values of our congregation, while also recognizing our budgetary limitations. We are deeply grateful for the investment of time and energy represented in their recommendations!
The Board has heartily endorsed the recommendation from Personnel Commission to move forward with a ministry team model of pastoral leadership. This model calls for two full-time co-equal pastors who will each have primary responsibilities and will share other responsibilities. These full-time pastors will work collaboratively with the church office administrator, the music ministry staff, and the kitchen/events coordinator to see that the ministries of the church operate smoothly in fulfillment of our mission.
This leadership approach represents two primary changes for us as a congregation: (1) moving from a hierarchical senior pastor/associate pastor model to a team approach and (2) moving from 3.2 full-time equivalent positions to 2.5 positions (two full-time pastors, Tom Hostetler as pastor to Older Adults at 0.2 time and the potential for a youth coordinator at 0.3 time).
The Personnel Commission and Board are moving rapidly toward implementing this model by taking two actions:
1. We are calling Amanda Bennett as the first of the two full-time co-equal pastors, with primary responsibility in the area of Family Ministries, Spiritual Formation, and intergenerational approaches to social justice. Amanda has been a wonderful addition to our staff for the past five years as Coordinator of Children, Youth, Family, and Social Media. With her ordination last spring, she is well-equipped and ready to move into a pastoral role. We are enthusiastically calling her to this position, and the sentiment at the Council meeting last Sunday was a ringing endorsement of that call. We will hold a special-called Council meeting on Sunday, November 6th, immediately following worship service in the sanctuary and via Zoom, for a congregational vote to call Amanda to this full-time pastoral position.
2. The Board has authorized the search committee to begin its search for the second of the two full-time co-equal pastors, with a primary responsibility for worship and congregational care. Chaired by Kara Evans and Jack Meek, the search committee has already created the congregational profile, and the Personnel Commission has crafted the job description. We are now ready to get the word out, and we hope to have a candidate ready to meet the congregation in February/March. As always, the full congregation votes to call a pastor, so you will have an opportunity to meet the candidate, hear them preach, and then vote to call them.
The Council meeting also had a first read of our 2023 proposed budget, which projects a deficit of $65,009 for the year. Because the Board does not believe that continued deficit budgets are wise stewardship, we will be proposing a three-year plan for reaching a balanced budget. The January Council meeting will be an opportunity for the congregation to vote on that proposed budget. As we prepare for that, the Board asks you to thoughtfully consider what you are able to contribute to the church’s ministries. Whether your generosity is financial or is a generosity of time and presence, we need to know we can count on you in the coming year! We deeply appreciate the way this church has leaned into our future, our commitments, and our life together.