Pastoral Nominating Process
We have elected our Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) on June 25, 2023 to search for a new Pastor/Head of Staff on behalf of all the members of the Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church, and the Charleston Atlantic Presbytery.
It is important to remember that a pastoral call is a three-legged covenant with the whole congregation (not the session or PNC only!), the Presbytery, and the pastor as equal partners in this agreement.
It is also important to remember that the PNC represents the congregation, and that we should get to know them, listen to them, pray for them, and tell them about our hopes, dreams (and fears) for the future of MPPC. Communication from the PNC will always be available on a special page on our website mppc.net/searching-for-our-next-senior-pastor. You can also contact the PNC directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The search process in the PCUSA is different from the practices from other denominations, and it reflects two of the fundamental beliefs Presbyterians have, namely that we believe all things should be done decent and in good order, and that we believe that in God’s providence. God already has chosen a pastor for MPPC, and we work with God, under guidance of the Spirit, to affirm this call.
In God’s time and in God’s way, the PNC will be led to the person of God’s choosing, and they will be the instruments through whom God touches his or her heart to answer God’s call to serve in this place. Thus the work of the PNC will be guided by prayer and driven by the Holy Spirit start to finish.
The following are steps in the search process:
The first step is the congregation’s election of a Pastor Nominating Committee to conduct the search. Once elected, the committee will meet to choose their leadership, and then will meet with representatives of Charleston-Atlantic Presbytery for orientation to their task and guidelines to be followed along the way.
The PNC will then compose the MINISTRY DISCERNMENT PROFILE (MDP). The MDP is a “verbal snapshot of the church,” that will serve as an introduction to the church for prospective pastors. It will contain information like our statistical reports, a congregational survey to describe the church, its mission and ministry, and the vision for the future, its needs and expectations of its pastor, and the resources the church has (people and material wealth) to carry out its mission. Once the MDP is completed and approved by the Session, it goes on-line through the Office of the General Assembly’s Church Leadership Connection (CLC) and it becomes accessible to all pastors who are interested in seeing it.
All pastors open to a call will have an active PERSONAL DISCERNMENT PROFILE (PDP) in the system of the CLC, The PDP reflects the candidate’s Ecclesiastical Status, Formal Education, Training/Certification, Work Experience, Service to the Greater Church, and Position Type in which the candidate is interested, among some other information. This information is used to “match” prospective pastors to MPPC.
A pool of prospects will be referred to the PNC, along with other names submitted by the congregation and ministers who may refer themselves for consideration. The PNC will evaluate all these names in light of the needs and mission of the church, and in response to where God is leading.
The PNC’s work must be carried out in the strictest CONFIDENTIALITY. They will have people’s lives and careers in their hands, as well as the on-going relationships of pastors in their current churches. They must be absolutely sure to safeguard all information that comes to them. They cannot talk to the Session, to their spouses, or to anyone else outside their Presbytery Commission on Ministry liaison in this process.
The evaluation process involves reviewing PERSONAL DISCERNMENT PROFILEs written by prospective pastors, checking personal and professional references, getting assistance from the Presbytery with background checks (including standard criminal background checks, sex offender registry checks, and ascertaining that there are no ecclesiastical charges pending or sustained against the candidates).
The PNC will listen to sermons, some in person, some by video. They will conduct interviews, some in person, some by phone, Zoom or Skype. They will visit prospective pastors in their current places of service. And in time, they will invite a few – maybe three or four – to come to Mount Pleasant to see the church and community.
The PNC will pray for God’s guidance; and in God’s time, they will identify the person to whom God has led them. They will negotiate the terms of call. And then they will ask Presbytery Commission on Ministry to examine the candidate with respect to Christian experience, theology, worship and sacraments, and church government; and to assure the person’s suitability for ministry at MPPC. When that work is done, the PNC will ask the Session to call a congregational meeting at which they will present their report to the church, identify their candidate, and ask the congregation to vote to extend the call to the candidate. Every member of the congregation may vote when a pastoral candidate is presented for a call.
If the congregation votes to call the candidate and approves the terms of call, a starting date is established, and preparations are made to welcome the new pastor and family into the life of the church and community, and an exciting new era in the life of MPPC begins.
The process can take as little as six months or as long as two years. Therefore, it is important for the congregation to bathe the PNC in prayer, to encourage them and asking questions (they will give you periodic updates as appropriate), and to maintain a hopeful spirit, faithful and generous support, and active participation in the church’s programs and ministries.
Remember: the church is not about who is or is not the pastor. Ministers come and go. All the members of MPPC together—young and old, new and longtime members—are the Church; and Jesus Christ is always the King and Head of the Church. He is the Lord of our lives. So, in this ongoing season of transition, may God give us grace to love him and serve him gratefully and obediently in the power of His Spirit.