How Long, O Lord?
That's a really good question. It often recurs in scripture and is implored in at least eight Psalms (6, 13, 35, 79, 80, 89, 90, 94). It is a question PNC members are mindful of as we seek to discern the person God is calling to be our new Head of Staff Pastor. Like the Psalmist we try to keep our focus on "O Lord" more than "How Long," because God only knows. Nevertheless, the question we all want answered is "Are we there yet?" After 19 months, the PNC has an answer.
Good News: The Pastor Nominating Committee is pleased to report that it has completed its search, and that with excitement and confidence, its members unanimously believe that God has led the church to the person to be called as our next Head of Staff Pastor.
More Good News: The Session has voted to call a Congregational Meeting to be held in the church sanctuary on January 6, 2019 immediately following the 10:50 a.m. worship service. The purpose of the meeting is:
1. to receive the report and recommendation of the Pastor Nominating Committee to issue a call to the candidate selected to be the church’s next Head of Staff Pastor;
2. to conduct a vote of the congregation membership to issue the recommended call; and,
3. to approve the proposed Terms of Call.
Frustrating but Critical News: We can't tell you who it is until January 6. The procedure in the Presbyterian Church (USA) is for pastors to tell their present congregations that they are leaving only after they have actually received a call from a new congregation. So, our candidate's present congregation will not know of our call until after we vote on January 6. Accordingly, this stage of the process requires great confidentiality. If word were to "leak out," it could be very disruptive for the other congregation and quite awkward for our candidate. Seriously, it is very important that "mum is the word." So, the members of the PNC and anyone else who may know who the candidate is will be super secret until January 6.
Finally, did we mention WE ARE SO EXCITED!
The days are surely coming . . .
These words of the prophet Jeremiah (33:14) promised those in exile a return to Jerusalem. In the season of Advent, Christians hear these words as promising the coming of Jesus. As a PNC, we also hear these words as promising a new Head of Staff Pastor for First Presbyterian Church of Dallas.
We need to wait a bit longer. However, we are hopeful - and confident - that we are close to being able to announce that we have identified the person God is calling to be our new Head of Staff Pastor. Please continue to pray for us.
A House Built on Rock
Jesus tells us that the wise man's house withstood rain, floods and winds "because it had been founded on rock." (Matthew 7: 25 NRSV) Our history - both distant and recent - shows that FPC can withstand challenges because it is built on rock. How do we celebrate and leverage this solid foundation to move into the future?
As a result of our recent capital campaigns, our 100 year-old church building is more accessible, useful and beautiful. Across Young Street, the Community Ministries Building is being updated and Encore Park presents numerous possibilities. Our programs and ministries continue to serve and enrich the lives of those they touch. The strength of our lay leadership and congregational commitment has carried us through a sometimes challenging interim period.
How do we utilize these wonderful physical and spiritual assets to be an even greater servant to our congregation, to our neighborhood and to our greater community? Who will be the creative, visionary Head of Staff pastor to help us build for the future upon our solid foundation? The PNC continues to work and pray to discern God's answer to these questions. Please continue to pray for us.
CHANGE, REFORMATION & TRANSFORMATION
You know the old joke: "How many Presbyterians does it take to change a light Bulb?"
Spoiler alert: This is not true at First Presbyterian Church of Dallas.
Our 163 years of history tells the story of adaptive change. Our theology (Ecclesia Reformata, Semper Reformanda: “the church reformed and always reforming") celebrates God's continuing transformational work. The Good News of Jesus that we proclaim promises transformation of life.
What will it look like for FPC to be a faithful witness with a Heart for the City in the coming decades? Who is the caring, collaborative change agent to help lead FPC into the future? The PNC continues to work and pray to discern God's answer to these questions. Please continue to pray for us.
(Last Updated on 11/23/2018)
Why a Downtown Church?
“We find simply and briefly that we, as a church, have little relevant contact, and there is, with one or two exceptions, little influence for Christ in the inner city.”
This assessment is from A Progress Report by the Downtown Church Committee of First Presbyterian Church, dated June 9, 1963. The church responded by initiating new programs to serve its downtown neighbors, including the “detached worker” joint venture with the YMCA and the Harwood Street Center preschool. (Holding Forth the Word of Life: the Witness of a Downtown Church 1856-2006, pp.157-59)
Our inner-city neighbors have changed, and are changing, dramatically. With the rapid influx of new downtown residents, we are now more than ever poised to accept the challenge to demonstrate our relevance to our inner city that our forebears saw in 1963. What skills and experience will our next Head of Staff Pastor need to help lead us into a future of “relevant contact” and “influence for Christ” with our downtown neighbors?
The PNC is focused on discerning where God is leading us to find such a person. Please continue to pray for us.
What will downtown Dallas be in 2028?
As you look around our neighborhood, it is clear that downtown will be more populous and more vibrant than it is today. It is already more dynamic than it was even five years ago.
As the PNC studies these and other cultural developments, we are focused on what it will look like for FPC to be "A Heart for the City" in the coming decade. There have been tipping points before in the 160 year history of our church. We have no doubt that we are at one now. So, we are working hard to discern who God is calling to be the preaching leader who will help FPC respond to these changes and move into the future.
The PNC cherishes your continuing prayers. We will be providing brief weekly reports, so stay tuned. Any comments can be sent using the contact button below.
Where are we in the process?
In light of Gareth's recently announced plans, an update from your Pastor Nominating Committee feels overdue. This process is unique and it may sometimes seem as if we are indifferent to the congregation’s anxiety and curiosity. Not so! We are working diligently and effectively, learning more about our church and our mission each week and remaining relentless and confident in our search.
The PNC’s timeline began with our last head of staff, Joe Clifford, announcing in July 2016 his call to Myers Park Presbyterian Church. Greg Gibson then started as our interim pastor that fall. In February 2017, the Session requested that the Congregational Nominating Committee begin the process of selecting nominees for the PNC. Following a call for nominations from the congregation, the PNC was formed and charged by the congregation during worship on April 2, 2017. Other than Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, we’ve met every Wednesday since that time, often for three-hour sessions. Initially, we spent time familiarizing ourselves with the PC (USA)’s search processes, in listening sessions with the congregation, and in developing our Ministry Information Form (MIF). The Session approved the MIF on June 6, 2017, and we hit the ground running. We received well over 100 Pastor Information Forms from computer-generated matches and dozens of referrals from you and other friends of our church from across the country, many of which were intentionally solicited from other pastors and denominational leaders.
We then began to listen individually to hundreds of sermons and corporately to dozens of sermons from remarkable candidates. Our meetings for most of last summer and fall were spent narrowing this prodigious group. We began individual interviews by telephone and Skype in December and have made a number of trips to worship with and meet with prospects in person. At least three candidates have worshipped with our congregation in the past few weeks, so know that your continued attendance and welcoming presence are very important!
During this transition, one thing that remains constant is the faithful work of this congregation. You are amazing, resilient, and impressive, a fact that our candidates repeatedly affirm.
We are convinced that we are progressing in our discernment of God’s plan for our church. Our meetings start and finish with prayer for guidance from the Holy Spirit to help us discover the pastor that we believe God has already chosen for us. As Christians, we place our faith in God. As members of our church, we ask for your continued prayers as we trust in this process and each other to heed God’s call for FPC Dallas. We look forward to sharing our progress with you more frequently.
After receiving numerous referrals, listening to hundreds of sermons and reflecting on over 100 Personal Information Forms (PIFs), we are narrowing the field by meeting and talking with select candidates. As we enter this next phase of discernment, we ask for your steadfast prayers of openness and mindfulness so that we may hear who God is calling to lead FPC Dallas.
As our congregation enters this busy Christmas season, we thought you might like to review our expected “year-end” numbersJ
102 Individuals considered to date
38 PNC meetings
1 God’s Call for our New Pastor, TBD
We are still receiving new referrals, listening to dozens of sermons and reflecting on Personal Information Forms (PIFs). We encourage you to utilize the form on the website to offer your own referrals, feedback, or questions/thoughts on the process. Please keep the members of the PNC and their work in your prayers.
As the summer has ended and a new school year is in full gear, the PNC is excited to update you on our progress.
95 Individuals considered to date
26 PNC meetings since April 6
10 Congregational listening sessions held
1 God’s Call for our new Pastor, to be determined
We are still receiving new referrals, listening to dozens of sermons and reflecting on Personal Information Forms (PIFs). We encourage you to utilize the form on the website to offer your own referrals, feedback, or questions/thoughts on the process.
Please keep the members of the PNC and their work in your prayers.
With a heart for FPC,
7/11/17 Update: Our MIF has been approved by the PCUSA and can be viewed here. We are receiving PIFs from interested candidates and are currently working to define our approach to considering and evaluating candidates. The PNC will be having group listening sessions on the dates below for church members to ask questions and share feedback with members of the PNC. We have already held listening sessions with several Sunday school classes. All are welcome and encouraged to attend any of the remaining sessions. If you prefer written communication with the PNC, you may submit a form here as well. As always, please send any questions, referrals or recommendations to email@example.com.
6/30/17 Update: Our MIF has been approved by the PCUSA! It can be viewed here. We are receiving PIFs and are currently working to define our approach to considering and evaluating candidates. Keep an eye on the church calendar as we will be organizing group listening sessions for individuals to answer questions and share feedback with the PNC. If you prefer, there is a form you may fill out here as well. As always, please send any questions, referrals or recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
6/23/17 Update: Our MIF has been approved by the Session and the Presbytery! We will start receiving PIFs soon and are currently working to define our approach to considering and evaluating candidates. Keep an eye on the church calendar as we will be organizing group listening sessions for individuals to answer questions and share feedback with the PNC. As always, please send any questions, referrals or recommendations to email@example.com.
5/27/17 Update: We have been gathering information, discerning the FPC vision/mission and the characteristics important in our next senior pastor, and discussing how that information should take shape within our MIF. Our goal is to submit the MIF for Session and Presbytery approval on June 6.