Urgent Message from the Pastor

Proposed Restructuring of Pastoral Leadership

October 17, 2022

Dear members and friends,

I want to share with you some exciting news about the pastoral leadership of FPC! When I became your pastor five years ago, a part of my call to our church was to mentor Nic Merchant as he grew into his role as Associate Pastor of Spiritual Formation. The hope was that maybe one day, just maybe, he would be able to return and pastor First Presbyterian Church himself. I took my charge seriously.

Over the last several years, I have attempted to dismantle an old hierarchical system of leadership and replace it with a team-based collaborative model of leadership. Dr. Masten, Rev. Merchant, and I have been operating out of this model for over three years. On paper, I am the Pastor/Head of Staff; in reality, I’m a coach encouraging all the players to move cohesively in the same direction. Pastorally, we three have been collaboratively leading FPC and you may not have even noticed it. If you haven’t been aware that is how the church is being pastorally led, good! It means it’s working!

When Kelly died early this year, it was a trigger for me to begin thinking about, “What happens if something happens to me?  What happens with the church? Will FPC lose the progress the congregation has made the last five years?” It was apparent as a leader, I needed to plan for my succession for when God calls me away.

Purposefully working with the Chair of the Presbytery’s Committee on Ministry and with General Presbytery, Dr. Daris Bultena, I began working on a model that would, in my opinion, be best for our church for the time I leave. And please hear me loud and clear: I am not hearing God calling me to leave our church! Leaders lead and that is all I am attempting to do.

The Session has approved a proposal to adapt our current leadership model from Pastor/Head of Staff to a Co-Pastor and an Associate Pastor model whereby Nic Merchant and I become Co-Pastors (co-equal) and Dr. Masten continues as the Associate Pastor for Congregational Care.

I am posting on our church website and on my personal website, patrickhwrisley.com, the same document presented to our Session and the COM so you can learn exactly what they learned. It addresses The Why, The Rationale, identify the pros and cons of the proposal, an outline of the process, and a few sundry notes on the process.

Your pastors will be leading a Q&A during Wednesday Night Live Dinner this week, at the Cottage at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday the 26th and are available to discuss this with any of you who have questions.

Building the Kingdom together,

Patrick H. Wrisley,
Pastor and Teaching Elder

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