On June 11, the Consistory of St. James voted unanimously to begin the process of calling a “Covenant Minister” for the next phase of our congregation’s life. 10 members were present to vote, while 2 others who couldn’t attend had already expressed their support for this decision.
At the time of a pastor’s resignation, it is more common to call an Interim Minster; the interim would then immediately begin guiding the congregation through a search for a settled pastor. An Interim Minister typically serves for 12-18 months (in healthy congregations with full-time ministry openings); and Interim Ministers expressly agree that they will not consider a settled call to the church they are serving.
However, the consistory has decided that a slightly different option, a Covenant Minister, is in the better interest of the congregation. In this scenario, consistory will create a Covenant with a pastor, calling him or her to a longer term of service (about three years). This pastor will initially focus on completing the Revitalization program in which we are currently active (and just beginning to enter the phase of congregational participation). In 2014, as the Revitalization activities transition into a regular ministry of growth in our church, the Covenant Minister will then begin directing us through a pastoral search. One significant difference: unlike an Interim, a Covenant Minister is permitted to be considered as a candidate for a settled pastorate.
The next step is for Consistory to begin interviewing available candidates for this position, with the intention of selecting someone as soon as possible, but while also taking time to find someone who will fit our congregation well. If there is a gap between Pastor Rachael’s final Sunday and the selection of a Covenant Minister, supply pastors can fill in (just like when a pastor is on vacation). The selection of the Covenant Minister, and the creation of the covenant, is up to the Consistory; but whenever a settled pastor is called, that decision will once again be by a vote of the congregation.
Our consistory members are prayerfully preparing to lead our congregation through this process with wisdom and care. Please keep them, and our congregation’s future, in your prayers as well!