Searching for Derry’s New Associate Pastor

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Let me start with the process. To call a new associate pastor we are NOT following the traditional Presbyterian process as outlined in our Book of Order, but a much more efficient and we think much more effective process that Derry has used successfully in the past.

For example: Marie Buffaloe came to our Presbytery when her husband Brad Bradford took the Executive Presbyter position in the Carlisle Presbytery. It so happened around that same time Derry had grown to the point where we needed an associate pastor. As we got to know Marie, it became clear that she could fulfill the pastoral needs that Derry’s growing congregation required. Rather than go through the highly structured, time consuming and expensive traditional Presbyterian call process, Derry’s Session contracted with Marie for her pastoral services. This was a relationship that lasted for 25 years. Each year, the  Session renewed our contract with Marie until her retirement earlier this year.

Another factor that guided us in this case to not use the traditional Presbyterian call process was our experience using that process to call Pastor Stephen. As it turned out, of the 164 resumes that we received through the denomination call process none resulted in a candidate in which we were interested enough to interview. Rather, every one of the candidates the PNC felt excited enough about to interview came to us through the Pastor Nominating Committee’s own efforts to reach out and network with others in the denomination.

This summer, as we came to realize that we would need a new associate pastor, Pastor Stephen and I began to reach out to others in the Presbytery and beyond to find potential candidates that might fit Derry’s needs, resulting in three excellent candidates that expressed interest in the Derry position and agreed to be interviewed.

In October, the Personnel Committee formed the Associate Pastor Interview Committee (APIC) consisting of 11 Derry members from all facets of the congregation. The role of the APIC is to interview prospective candidates and come to a consensus on which candidate would be most suitable to meet Derry’s needs. Once a lead candidate has been identified, the candidate will be invited to Derry to participate in several activities with the congregation in areas in which they will be expected to take a leadership role. Based on feedback from congregation members participating in those activities the Personnel Committee will either recommend to Session that a contract be negotiated with the candidate or the APIC will interview additional candidates.

The APIC has been interviewing candidates based on the following dimensions: Ministry with Children and Youth, Teaching Ministry including faith formation for all ages, Communication, Pastoral Care and Worship. Questions exploring these five dimensions of ministry are being used by the APIC in the candidate interviews.

The APIC has completed three interviews so far. We scheduled a face-to-face meeting of the APIC on November 14 to review the results of our interviews and hopefully come to a consensus on inviting one to participate in the congregational activities. Given that we will soon be into the Advent Season, the congregational activities with the leading candidate may not take place until after the New Year. 

Please contact me with your questions about this process and our progress, by email or phone. I ask that you keep the Associate Pastor Interview Committee in your prayers as we seek to discern God’s will for our new associate pastor. 

Members of the Associate Pastor Interview Committee: Bill DeMuth, Bill Uffelman, Christina Simmons, Claudia Holtzman, Gregg Robertson (Chair), Julie Yutesler, Kristy Elliott, Lauren June, Sara Matthews, Timothy Mosher and Wally Patton.