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Our Journey Toward Finding a New Senior Pastor
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Responsibilities of the Interim Period

The Interim Senior Pastor has been tasked with five development tasks to prepare for the PNC calling a permanent leader. The five development tasks are suggested by the SF Presbytery and appear in Alan Gripe’s The Interim Pastor’s Manual and Loren Meade’s Critical Moment of Ministry: A Change of Pastors.   (Reference Source Link).   These tasks have been incorporated into Steve’s and the overall church goals and are summarized as: 

  • Coming to Terms With History: Releasing the congregation from the inappropriate power and hurt of the past and healing to move forward.
  • Discovering a New Identity:  A ready congregation needs a clear sense of its own identity, who it is in relationship with the world and what it dreams of being and doing.
  • Shifts of Power: There will be a positive movement in the congregation when it is possible to re-examine commitments and ministries and affirm leadership.
  • Rethinking Denominational Lines: Creating opportunities open for new and creative relations to develop between the congregation and Presbytery. 
  • Commitment to New Leadership: Preparing the congregation to be ready to make a commitment to permanent leadership and a new future. 

Session, Staff, and the Pastors devoted their Interim period work from 2017 to 2019 on addressing these development tasks.   We believe that all five development tasks were adequately addressed and point, in particular, to the healing, alignment and recovery work that was done in 2018.

Renewal and Fresh Vision with 2019 Work

Of course, we recognize the renewal and preparation of our congregation is ongoing work.  In collaboration with staff, congregants, and partners, Session prioritized initiatives in 2019 with a lens for the future of God’s Kingdom work through First Pres.  These included:

Dream Team Completed New Mission Statement, Core Values, and Tagline 

After extensive engagement with the congregation about the mission, vision, and identity of First Pres, the Dream Team revealed our new Mission Statement, Core Values, and Tagline. Session gave feedback in the Dream Team’s process leading up to Session’s approval, and will further integrate these identity statements into its work in 2020.

Christian Formation for Missional Living: A Pathway for Discipleship

 In August 2019, a team of Christian Formation staff, elders, and lay leaders presented their new vision and report, “Christian Formation for Missional Living: A Pathway for Discipleship” to Session. As Year 1 has rolled out, including Starting Point, Calling for You, Spiritual Disciplines, and Stages of Faith, Session discussed and will continue to deliberate about how to integrate the vision of “Inward and Outward Together” into all ministries of the church.

Nominating Committee Student Delegates 

The Nominating Committee proposed and Session approved adding high school and university student delegates to Deacon and Elder (non-voting) positions to uplift the voices of younger community members in church leadership and provide opportunities for students to engage with church-wide initiatives and ministries. 

Sanctuary Renewal Project 

The Sanctuary Renewal Project was approved by Session in early 2019. Following a successful fundraising campaign, construction started and finished in summer 2019 through the tireless work of staff, elders, and lay leaders who stewarded the project with the generous support of the congregation. 

Vision and Budget 2020+ 

In light of the generous gift of $5 million to pay down the mortgage debt and building on the work of the Dream Team, Session initiated a Vision 2020+ Subcommittee in Fall 2019 to prepare the way for a budget reflecting fiscal responsibility, wise stewardship of our resources, and God’s vision for First Pres in the coming years. Session, staff, and the subcommittee identified top priorities for 2020 and beyond. (Noted that some of priorities will likely shift as we understand the new normal in late 2020)

Website Launch 

Through a partnership of staff and elders, our church refreshed its website, providing a more engaging and accessible experience for online content.

Deepening Work with Key Mission Partners

We are connected to many great local and global mission partners and two specific highlights of local ministries include:  

  • Elders worked with Cornerstone Children’s Center leadership to deepen the partnership between First Pres and Cornerstone’s child care ministry, including approving an updated business review and additional connection and outreach to the wider community.
  • We “extended sanctuary” beyond our walls and partnered with CityTeam-Oakland to help create a beautiful backyard “garden sanctuary” for women living in a new shelter in Oakland. In addition to financially supporting this undertaking, more than 125 volunteers spent five weekends during the summer working on this project. The end result was a wonderful garden and deepened community among members of our church.

(Reference Source – 2019 Annual Report)


2020 and LOOKING FORWARD

We entered 2020 knowing that First Pres is God’s church and seeing God move in many ministries.  This year  started with stable membership, a remodeled sanctuary to invite us to worship, a new vision for Christian Formation, and increased energy for Mission and Caring Ministries.  Also, due to a major gift from a generous family we were able to significantly reduce our debt and attain a much more solid financial setting.

Already this year, we have continued to refine and reshape the ministries of First Pres to reflect the work of 2019 and align the church leadership to prepare us for the future.  

Leadership Transition between Christian Formation and Caring

In early 2020, the congregation voted to enable Mark Stryker to become the full time pastor of Caring.  We honored Delianne’s service in that role and also affirmed Mark’s desire to fully extend into this area of Ministry and follow a renewed calling.  In addition, Michelle was promoted to the Minister role for Christian Formation, acknowledging her leadership and development gifts that we have seen flourish in her time at 1st Pres.   

We also started the process to call an APNC for Christian Formation, with confidence that the Sr. Pastor PNC selection will be completed relatively soon.  Having called Pastoral leadership for Christian Formation is a high priority for 1st Pres and embarking on the process now reflects confidence for our future and readiness to support leadership.

Despite the disruption of COVID-19 and Sheltering-in-Place, we have a committed church core with a solid trust and faith in Jesus Christ.   Our staff is working hard to flex to meet the needs of the congregation and innovate. In this interim and crisis period, we continue to live into our vision, see new growth, and connect with our communities.  We are ready for the PNC to complete their work and yet continue God’s work and vision for First Pres everyday, remaining prayerfully open to discerning what God is doing, confident that the One who began a good work in us will continue it.

Return to the Preparing Our Hearts page. 
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