Sept 29, 2023
The congregational was invited to gather for an evening of information on the pastoral transition that we are currently in.
Dave Jackson, our Assessment Consultant, made the following remarks on Pastoral Transitions:
"The purpose of the meeting this evening is to provide you with sufficient information for you to make the decisions necessary to move forward. There are five parts to the meeting.
First, I will share in more detail what a pastoral transition process looks like and how it works. Second, Mark will share further information on the transition from the Elders perspective. Third, Wally will share what the Holy Spirit has been doing in his heart over these last months. Fourth we will entertain your questions and observations. Finally, we will spend some moments in group prayer seeking God and committing the future to Him. My prayer is that with this information and the Lord’s guidance you will be able to discern what God is saying to you.
Last Sunday morning Pastor Brad tendered his resignation. How do you move forward? The general tendency is to panic. Get a new pastor asap. Get things under control. Remember the diagram I showed you when introducing the assessment? However, at this point you are experiencing some division. It is unlikely that you would be able to agree on the kind of pastor you need to call. You also have some different perspectives on your purpose, values, and vision. To move forward without bringing resolution to these matters portends future struggles. Before moving on, it would be wise to resolve these matters.
So, how can a pastoral transition process help? Let me begin by making a very important point. A transitional pastor is not an interim pastor. An interim pastor simply maintains the status quo. He has no mandate except to fill the pulpit, visit congregants as necessary etc. A transitional pastor on the other hand is mandated to bring necessary change. They are to get you ready for the next chapter of ministry. They usually serve from 12-18 months, and they are given a clear mandate with the authority to carry it out. It gives you time to address eight objectives:
- Closure. Congregations need to deal with the past in such a way that it doesn’t hinder or restrict what God is wanting to do in the future. So, we help people deal with their grief, loss and possible disagreements as well encourage them to celebrate the past and learn to let it go in a healthy way so they can move on. Often such a time involves repentance and forgiveness and a new posture for ministry. Usually, the new and healthy posture is one of dependence and humility. Ministering out of our brokenness, not our competency. This is critical for JRCC.
- Relevant Preaching. During a pastoral transition, a congregation needs preaching that goes beyond pulpit supply to providing messages from God designed with this congregation in mind.
- Short Term Administration
- Pastoral Care. During a transition, a congregation needs a leader to ensure that people are cared for even if we do not fulfill that function by themselves.
- Relational Renewal. Relationship renewal refers to the connections of the congregation with God and with other members of the body. A transition pastor works to renew, restore and revive any weak or poorly functioning connections.
- Vision Renewal. Since healthy churches have a vision and an action plan to bring it into reality, a time of transition can be a time for the whole congregation to listen and discern what God is saying to them. A transition pastor helps you see where God is leading so that your next pastor can be the kind of leader that fits.
- Structural renewal. If the structures of a church are mismatched or in need of review, a time of transition is an excellent time to renew them for the purpose of achieving their mission.
- Pastoral Search. There’s no denying that God has a specific leader for every church that is listening and responding to Him. A transition pastor helps you discerning that leader.
As you know, the Elders have embraced this concept of a transitional pastor and they have indicated their willingness to carry on under the guidance and direction of such a person. I asked them, who could you trust with such a responsibility? Wally surfaced as someone they could trust and follow. They also believed you, the church, would feel the same way. They have talked to Wally, and as you know, he is willing to let his name stand and serve the church in this capacity. He will share with you what God has done in his heart these last months to prepare him for this role if you engage him. So, their recommendations being proposed for you to consider are 1. To call a full time transitional pastor 2. To call Wally to this role. As transition pastor, he would be given the authority and the tools to work with the elders and the church to fulfill his mandate. This will also To Resolve our poor processing of conflict During the “Closure phase. From my perspective, I would fully endorse this course of action."
Mark Hastie, Moderator, made the following remarks:
"I want to express my gratitude to the church for engaging with this process of self assessment. Though not perfect it paints a self portrait that like any good piece of art needs to be admired and studied in fine detail at the same time. There is much that we as Elders are grateful for in this assessment and much that is difficult to accept but accept we must. This season has been an especially trying one for the board. The amount of time required by its members has been extraordinary and to them I want to say thank you for your commitment, dedication and love for this church. Our hearts are broken over what we've seen transpire at Jericho Ridge these last number of months. We are sorry for any pain we have caused you, the church. It has always been our desire and aim to serve you as a community well. The last few months has seen the board working hard but at times for me failing to connect properly with the congregation. I take personal responsibility in this area. I want to apologize to you. It was with all this in mind that we contacted Dave Jackson and began the journey of discovery to try and determine where we are presently and what next steps are required to rebuild trust with and amongst the congregation. As already stated, some of the results of the assessment were very difficult for the board and pastors to hear. Regardless we all need to hear the truth. Our hope is that Jericho Ridge as a whole finds itself in a place where we recognize and long to listen to what the Spirit is saying to us as a church.
There are some concrete steps we want to take going forward to help facilitate stability and growth. The first thing we would like to do is call a special congregational meeting to be held on Oct 15th directly after the Sunday morning service. As mentioned in the communique that went out this week, two propositional votes would be taken. 1st is a motion that we engage a transitional pastor. 2nd the church to call and then install Wally Nickel to serve in that role. If the vote is carried Wally would begin his work as transitional pastor with a start date one week later, in other words Oct 22nd.
Pastor Brad would continue to work until Oct 31 which allows for sufficient overlap between both pastors. As I understand it a transitional pastor is someone who has a broader scope in which to work with the board and the church than does a traditional pastor. This would allow the necessary latitude required at this moment in the life of JRCC to come together, speak plainly and mend broken relationships whether that is congregants with the board or congregant to congregant. We want to make ourselves available to you with the help of a transitional pastor to facilitate this kind of restoration. The Elders will on a bimonthly basis meet and pray together with the congregation at weekly prayer meetings held at the Jericho Centre for healing and other requests as directed in James 5:14: "Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord"
Our desire is to care for all members of our congregation well and that includes Brad and Meg. The goal would be to provide Brad with paid leave from Nov 1- Dec 31, 2023. November and December is a difficult time of year for a pastor to find work as most churches are focused on the upcoming Christmas season. But more importantly this will allow for some much needed time for their souls to take rest. In addition, we would honour them with an evening of recognition and appreciation of their 19 years of pastoring at JRCC. We would invite you to set aside Oct 30th at 7:00 PM here at the Jericho Centre. We envision something similar to what we had done for Wally and Sylvia back in April.
During the past few days, I’ve had 2 scriptures come to mind. The first is Revelation chapter 3 where Jesus stands at the door of the church and knocks. My hope is we all will open the door to him at this moment in the life of Jericho and let him in to do the work of renewal and restoration that only the Holy Spirit is capable of accomplishing. The elders want to assume such a posture of yielding to God and you, His church. We recognize this will take patience on the part of everyone present. We are all familiar with the beautiful chapter on love in 1 Corinthians chapter 13, where it states before all else that Love is patient and Love is Kind. Paul goes on to explain what love is and then what it is not. But first love is patient and kind. This is a foundation for all the other attributes of love to follow. That is the way I hope we move forward, that we begin the next step of our journey at Jericho with patience and kindness toward each other. I believe if we hold to this, we can actually grow into something even greater than what has existed."
Wally then shared his heart with respect to his full recovery from cancer. He has a clean bill and health and feels well and is ready to shift toward work. Through the summer months, many opportunities came along but he kept hearing God say "wait". He had lost his role here but was not feeling called or released to be or go elsewhere. This was a season of being in limbo and by August, he was angry. But the Spirit whispered to him "try Transitional Leadership". So he signed up for it. The Elders and Brad floated the idea of doing that work at Jericho to him, he talked with others and received affirmation and confirmation.
His word for the church in this season is CONFIDENT HOPE.
We opened the floor for questions and observations and then closed in prayer together.
We will continue to share updates in this space as we walk this journey together.
Mark Hastie, Moderator