Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (May 2023)
From time to time, I choose to add a verse of scripture to one of my emails that I feel is appropriate for the message being conveyed. Recently in a communication from our PNC, I chose to include the scripture passage from Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” It seemed apropos in this situation.
Fast forward to this past Sunday. My son, Patrick, preached a sermon at his church in South Carolina as they recognized the graduates from their congregation. He pointed out that during this time of the year Jeremiah 29:11 is often mis-quoted in cards of congratulations, commencement addresses and by well-meaning family members.
He then went on to point out the importance of understanding the context of any scripture to ensure that it is being used properly. In this passage the Prophet Jeremiah is sending a letter to the exiles from Jerusalem in Babylon who had been enslaved by Nebuchadnezzar. So, as it turns out this message from God is specifically intended for the Israelite priests and elders with instructions to settle in, build houses and have children because they were going to remain away from Jerusalem for 70 years.
Busted! Maybe using verse 11 out of context is not the thing to do. The sermon goes on to share that “16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV). Patrick states that the Bible was not written for us but that it was written to us. Never read just a verse. Every Bible verse must be placed in its proper context. The entire Bible points to Jesus and that framework helps shape all of our interpretation. If we are not careful, we can grossly mis-interpret passages and get the wrong idea.
Thank you, son, for setting me straight. https://youtu.be/m-KaC9vb6kc?t=2055
This month we are continuing conversation the candidate presented to us by Vanderbloemen in April. We will conduct a second interview via Zoom and bring them to South Boston for an in-person visit. Our prayer is that God is ready to reveal to us His choice for our next pastor.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (April 2023)
That Sunday After Easter – Jonathan Parnell, Pastor, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Few of us remember those Sundays that come the week after Easter. By then the pastel finery is packed away in our closets. The lunch is not as great. The anticipation for corporate worship has dropped down from the seasonal high we felt just a week before. There is less excitement, less panache, less décor — and more resemblance to that original Easter so many Sundays ago.
It’s easy to forget that the Easter morning of A.D. 33 didn’t come with big hats and bowties. Those disciples huddled together in fear, not faith. They tended their wounds, not flaunted their tidiness. And then — then — they worshiped Jesus.
They worshiped Jesus not because of what they had to offer, but because he bombarded their worlds with hope. He exploded the walls of their wretchedness with the irrefutable fact that the grave had not won, that death had been defeated, that the guilt and power of sin had been slain. They were astonished, at best; despairing, at worst; helpless, in the least — and Jesus walked in with his life-changing peace.
Jesus stepped into their space in the same way he steps into ours by his Spirit — as the resurrected Christ, the reigning King, the Lord of all. He comes as the one who is not served by human hands as though he needed anything, but who gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. He comes as the one whose glory is not contrived by our praise, but whose glory compels our praise — even today, even on this “normal” Sunday.
Or, perhaps, he compels our praise especially on this normal Sunday because we’re reminded that worship is not about us bringing our best, but about finding him as better. We come to him who first came to us. And we come not to give, but to receive. We come as those who need to hear his voice, feel his nearness, know his love.
We come to get God, to say together, humbly and gladly in the Spirit’s power, with the heart of Psalm 116:12–13, “What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.”
This month we were presented a candidate by Vanderbloemen. The PNC will be conducting a first interview and our prayer is that this is the one. Your prayers and encouragement are greatly appreciated.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (March 2023)
Lent is traditionally a time for Christians to examine our lives and practice self-denial (by the way, how are you chocolate lovers getting along?). We’re also to engage in acts of charity and recommit ourselves to living as Christ would have us live.
All of this, of course, is to prepare ourselves to celebrate the most important day in the Christian calendar: Easter. Or, as Chuck Colson preferred to call it, Resurrection Sunday.
Holy week is the culmination of our 40-day journey of preparation. It begins with Jesus’ triumphant entry into the city of Jerusalem and continues with Maundy Thursday, where the Son of Man shared a final meal with the apostles and later was taken into custody in the Garden of Gethsemane. What follows on “Good Friday” is almost inconceivable, humiliation, torture, agony, and death on the cross. “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (Jn 1:29). Not much is told in scripture about Saturday. Two images stick in my mind. The disciples in hiding, feeling lost, hopeless, and dejected. While Jesus “…descended into hell.”
And of course, the reason Easter is the most important day on the Christian calendar is because the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, from the dead is the most important event in the history of the world and of the entire universe. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, “it’s what the whole story has been about…”
And that’s why all the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, reach their climax with the empty tomb. “He is not here, for he has risen, as he said” (Mt 28:6, as well as Mk 16:6). “Why do you seek the living among the dead? Remember how he told you . . . that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise” (Luke 24:6). “Go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (Jn 20:17).
After our disappointment last month, your PNC is back at work seeking God’s choice for our next pastor. Your encouragement and prayers are greatly appreciated.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (February 2023)
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Joel 2:12-13
Today, Christians around the world celebrated Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. Lent takes place over the forty days before Easter (not counting Sundays) and is traditionally a time of repentance and preparation for the celebration of Easter.
The goal of the Lenten season is to draw closer to God. There are many traditions surrounding this season, but whatever you do, it’s great to start by reflecting on your life, and the parts of your life where you feel disconnected from God and his people.
For example, you may have heard about people giving something up for Lent—often things that bring pleasure, like sweets, alcohol or tv. When I was in college, I tried to give up sugar for Lent. It didn’t last long (I have an epic sweet tooth), and one of the reasons I did it is that I was hoping to lose a few pounds. It didn’t have much to do with my relationship to Jesus!
If you plan to give up something, I encourage you to take a different approach. If you are giving something up, do it as an intentional act of worship and sacrifice to God. This year, I am going to try to put away my phone when I get up in the morning and take that time for intentional prayer. We will see if it is more meaningful than my ineffective sugar fast!
Giving something up is just one way to observe Lent. Maybe, like me, you hope to add something into your life—a time of prayer, or Bible reading. Some believers take these forty days to read through one of the gospels. Another way of observing Lent is through giving—time, money, or talents. Again, your goal should be to see this an act of worship and sacrifice, not just as a good thing to do. (By Christy Prins)
This month your PNC chose to bring a candidate to South Boston for a visit. Unfortunately, during the visit it became clear that this person was not our next pastor. Please continue to lift us up in prayer as we seek God’s will for our church.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (January 2023)
I have been involved in Scouting for most of my life, including over thirty years as a volunteer adult leader. The other night at Cub Scouts we talked about the Outdoor Code and Leave no Trace. This is where we endeavor to be good stewards of our natural resources and do our best to leave the outdoors undisturbed. We pack out everything that we bring with us (including trash) and take extra care to ensure that we leave as little impact as possible and let others enjoy the unspoiled outdoors. But you all know that no matter how hard we try, we do leave a trace – a footstep, some matted down grass, a broken twig.
When hiking and camping, we concentrate on the ‘physical’ traces we leave behind. But, every day, we are leaving a trace of our passing. Everywhere you go, everyone you meet, and every-thing you do leaves a trace that you were here.
You may only interact with a stranger for a couple seconds or with your friends for a couple hours, but no matter how long it is, you leave a trace of your passing all the time. It’s up to you to leave a trace that makes the world a better or worse place.
You may not think a cheerful ‘Hello’ to a passer-by, or a courteous ‘Thank You’ to someone that serves you, or a helpful holding the door open for a stranger, or a friendly smile to a small child in the mall really makes any difference – but it does!
So, no matter what you do, you WILL Leave a Trace. Do your best to make it a Good Trace.
This month your PNC continues to work to work with Vanderbloemen to identify and vet potential candidates for our pastor. We know that God has already chosen our next pastor and that He will reveal them to us in His time.
Please continue to lift us up in prayer as we continue the search for our next pastor.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (December 2022)
If you know me, you know that I am obsessed with “The Chosen”. This is a video series on the ministry of Jesus that is based on scripture. In a wonderful way they have given life and personality to many of the people that we read about in the New Testament. In addition to Jesus, my favorites are Mary Magdalene, Matthew, and Nicodemus. The back stories that are woven throughout the episodes give a greater understand of what living in the time of Jesus must have been like. By watching I have learned why tax collectors were so hated, how Pharisees were so influential in society, and how radical the teachings of Jesus were.
What is so amazing is that this whole project is being funded, outside of Hollywood, by donors throughout the world. Season 3 episodes are currently being released for viewing free of charge. This season begins with Jesus preaching the sermon on the mount which is recorded in Matthew’s gospel chapters 5-7. There was so much shared in this sermon, and it was fun seeing Matthew struggle to record all that was said. The reaction of those who heard this radical preaching was amazing and you can see why the Jewish establishment and the Roman occupiers were so concerned.
I know that this sounds like a sales pitch, but I just want you to know that the stories in the Gospels have come alive for me through this series. I encourage you to check this out for yourselves. https://watch.angelstudios.com/thechosen This project is bringing the gospel to many who had never been exposed to the faith before.
This month your PNC continues to work to work with our search firm to identify and vet potential candidates for our pastor. We continue to receive downloads of PIF’s (Personal Information Forms) of potential candidates from the CLC (Church Leadership Connection of the PC(USA)). We reach out to those that are of interest and seem to fit our needs. Unfortunately, so far those who respond are not feeling called to come to South Boston.
Please continue to lift us up in prayer as we continue the search for our next pastor.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (November 2022)
As we begin this season, I feel like it is fitting to reflect on what Advent truly means. With the arrival of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all the hype that world heaps on us, they would have us think that Christmas has arrived. We rush around from store to store and surf the net searching for the perfect “things” to put under the tree. We spend hours decorating our homes inside and out to achieve picture-perfect “look” for the yuletide appearance.
Well, spoiler alert! Christmas is not here. It doesn’t begin until December 25th and continues for 12 days after that. Advent starts four Sundays before Christmas and each week we light another candle as we prepare and await the arrival of the Christ child. All through the Old Testament times the prophets had predicted the coming of the Messiah, the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. This is the time of year when we focus on the coming of the Lord, the long-awaited redeemer.
During this Advent season, this time of arriving, may we make room in our hearts for Emanuel, God with us. Try not to let the distractions of the world turn your eyes away from the true reason for the season. The Almighty God who loves us so much, even when we continually fall short, made a way for us to be made acceptable to be with Him forever. “Come thou long expected Jesus”.
Your PNC continues to work to work with our search firm to identify and vet potential candidates for our pastor.
Your prayers are appreciated as we continue the task that you have entrusted to us.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (October 2022)
Generosity Is an Attitude, Not an Amount ~ By Rick Warren
Generosity is about far more than giving money. It’s about living generously in every area of your life.
The Bible says this about generosity: “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion” (2 Corinthians 9:11 NIV).
What does it look like to “be generous on every occasion”? It means being generous with
your time, praise, sympathy, forgiveness, love, compliments, and kindness. It means being
generous with your listening so that you can seek to understand others. And it means being
generous with your attention so that you can be aware of the needs of people.
But God isn’t interested in how much you give in life. He cares about why you give and how
you give. He cares about your motivation—your heart. That’s the difference between normal generosity and radical generosity. Radical generosity is an attitude, not an amount.
The Bible says it this way: “If you are really eager to give, then it isn’t important how much
you have to give. God wants you to give what you have, not what you haven’t” (2 Corinthians
God doesn’t need your money, talent, or time. In truth, he really doesn’t need anything from
you. But what he wants from you is your heart. What he wants is your love. The Bible says,
“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21 NIV). When you give your life to Christ, your heart will be with him.
No matter what you do or what you give, it’s important to check your motivation. Why?
Because God wants you to “do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17 NIV). He
wants you to be radically generous.
This month your PNC continues to work with the Vanderbloemen Search Group to identify
potential candidates for our next pastor. Your prayers and encouragement are greatly
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (September 2022)
This has been a difficult month for the PNC. It has now been two and a half years since our committee was tasked with finding the next pastor to lead our congregation. During that
time we have been “matched” with over 500 candidates by the Church Leadership Connection of the PC(USA). Early in the search process we discovered that many of these “matched” candidates would not even respond to our inquiries. One could only wonder as to why these “actively seeking” individuals chose not to answer our queries. This is when we decided to seek assistance from a professional search firm that specializes in filling church leadership positions. We selected the Vanderbloemen Search Group in Houston, Texas founded by William Vanderbloemen, a former PC(USA) pastor.
When we first started working with our account executive, also a former PC(USA) pastor, he honestly told us that this would be a difficult opening to fill. Not many pastors in our salary range are interested in a solo pastor position in a rural area. He did assure us that while this search may be lengthy, God has already selected our next pastor and that it would be revealed to us in His time. We have walked, together with Vanderbloemen, through multiple interviews with candidates and to date none have been called to come to South Boston.
Keep in mind that amid this period we have been faced with a global pandemic that has taxed our small congregation. That coupled with the recent financial challenges has further limited our ability to negotiate a call to FPC South Boston.
I tell you all this not to make excuses for how long this is taking but to honestly share with you the path we are traveling together. I put all my trust in my Savior Jesus Christ who, while sinless himself, face an agonizing death on the cross to pay for my sin. Only through His redeeming grace will we have life eternal.
Your prayers and encouragement are greatly appreciated. I am confident that God is not finished with First Presbyterian Church in South Boston and that we can continue to share the good news of the gospel. “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:18)
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (August 2022)
Jehovah-Rapha: The Lord Who Heals
The origin of the name Jehovah Rapha can be traced back to two Hebrew words used in the Old Testament, which in combination can mean “God who heals” or “God who restores.”
God first revealed Himself as Jehovah-Rapha to the Israelites after their exodus out of Egypt.
After three days of wandering in the Desert of Shur, the Israelites were in desperate need of water. They discovered a river, however, the waters were unfit to drink. As a reflection of the quality of the water and their emotional disposition, the Israelites named the river Mahra (bitter).
God divinely cleansed the waters by instructing Moses to throw a piece of wood into the water, thereby making it drinkable.
Following this miracle, God declared HImself as Jehovah Rapha to His people by proclaiming, “If you listen carefully to the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.” (Exodus 15:26)
This promise was also a gesture of assurance from God to the Israelites, who had borne witness to the 10 plagues that God had released over all of Egypt prior to their release from slavery.
The varying manifestations of God’s tremendous healing power as Jehovah-Rapha can be found in the following biblical passages to combat the following:
Sickness and infirmity (Psalm 41:3)
Healing from mental affliction (Jonah 2:5-7)
Spiritual fatigue (Psalm 23:3)
Emotional suffering (Psalm 147:3)
Anxiety or worry (John 14:27)
We can call upon Jehovah-Rapha today to heal us of our physical ailments and to provide redemption for our sins. Through the power of the blood of the Great Physician – Jesus Christ –, we can rise from our old sinful life as new creations in eternal fellowship with God.
This month the PNC is continuing conversation with a candidate. We do have concerns about our financial ability to call a pastor. Our prayer is that Jehovah-Rapha will provide healing and restoration for our church, community and world.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (July 2022)
Jehovah-Jireh: The Lord Shall Provide
There is a contemporary Christian worship song by Maverick City Music entitled “Jireh” that is getting a lot of play time on Christian radio these days. The lyrics harken to Genesis 22 where Abraham was instructed by God to take his son, Isaac, and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on Mount Moriah.
“Jireh, You are enough
Jireh, You are enough
And I will be content
In every circumstance
Jireh, You are enough”
Abraham’s obedience required an enormous extension of his faith. Hebrews 11:17-19 says, “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called,’ concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.”
At this time, Isaac wasn’t a little boy. He was a young man, perhaps in his twenties. Yet he, too, must have exercised a remarkable amount of faith and obedience to trust both his earthly father and his Heavenly Father. He allowed himself to be bound and placed on the altar. Perhaps he closed his eyes as Abraham’s knife rose in the air above his throat. But at that moment God intervened, saying, “Abraham, Abraham.… Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now, I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” (Genesis 22:11-12).
The Bible says, “Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, ‘In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided’” (Genesis 22:13-14).
In Hebrew, “The-Lord-Will-Provide” is Jehovah-Jireh. There’s a deep lesson in this name, for Isaac was a symbol of Christ, the only begotten Son whom the Father offered as a sacrifice for our sins on the mountains of Jerusalem, which is also known as Mount Moriah. But there’s also a lesson for us in our everyday needs. We are deeply needy people, and sometimes we need emotional support, or financial help, or physical aid, or provisions related to an emergency or crisis. In such times we can approach Jehovah-Jireh on the Throne of Grace. We can call Him that, for He is the God who provides.
This month the PNC is in the process of interviewing another candidate. Our prayer is that Jehovah-Jireh will provide enough for all our needs.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (June 2022)
This week in Pastor Glenn’s sermon I felt very convicted when the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19 was read. If you remember, Elijah wasn’t just hanging out, waiting peacefully for a word from heaven. He was running for his life! He had just slaughtered the prophets of Baal, the false god ascribed to by two of the cruelest, craziest characters in history— King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. 1 Kings 19:3 says, “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.”
Keep reading. Elijah may be a lot more like you than you realize. Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” (1 Kings 19:3–4)
Have you ever been there? Have you ever just had enough? When we look around, so often all we see is failure and fear and insurmountable odds. Elijah had just angered the most powerful and evil woman in the world. She had endless resources and countless ways to end his life. This great prophet saw no way out. He was done.
Again, keep reading:
Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said,
“Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot
coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank … Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. (1 Kings 19:5–8) Looking back at your life, can you think of times when God supplied you with sustenance? When a meal was waiting or a check arrived in the mail? What about when a smile came your way at just the right time?
We serve a God of heavenly heights who crafted this physical world we live in. He knows
when we’re hungry and thirsty. He knows when we can’t walk another step. And He loves to
provide spiritually and physically for His children. What truly convicted me was God’s pointed question to Elijah. What are you doing here, Elijah? (1 Kings 19: 9)
How often when we are discouraged and dejected do we find ourselves wanting to run and
hide just like Elijah. It is at that time that we must remember God’s question. What are you
This month the PNC interviewed a promising candidate only to discover major concerns the next day. We ask for your continued prayers as we continue the search for our next pastor.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (May 2022)
“Do Not Fear!” by Pastor Chuck Swindoll – Scriptures: Exodus 12:31–14:14
Humanly speaking, predicaments are terrible experiences. If you stay in one long enough, you will begin to question the very roots of your faith. By and by you’ll begin to look for someone to blame; usually it’ll be somebody in leadership. That’s why I am extremely impressed with Moses’ response. He didn’t say, as most are prone to say, “God helps those who help themselves.” People think that familiar saying comes from the Bible. It doesn’t. It’s from the pit. No, God helps the helpless!
Note Moses’ more biblical response in verse 13: “Do not fear!” What strange counsel. Can’t
you hear his fellow Israelites? “Hey, Moses, the Egyptians are around the corner. They’ve got chariots and bows and arrows and pointy spears. And you’re saying, ‘Don’t fear’? What’s the matter with you, man? Do you need a change in your eyeglass prescription? Can’t you see they’re coming? God, save us from this near-sighted shepherd!”
“Oh, I see them fine,” Moses replied. “But I’m still saying to you, ‘Don’t fear!’ “
But Moses isn’t done. After telling them not to be afraid, he has a second piece of counsel for his followers: “Stand still.” And a third: “Watch.” And a fourth: “The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.”
Now, there’s a prescription for people in an inescapable predicament! Don’t be afraid, stand
still, watch God come through, quit talking. The hardest is the fourth, because we just have to complain or tell somebody what a predicament, we’re in. But God doesn’t need to be informed. He knows the predicament. He is simply waiting for us to calm down and keep silent.
When you are in a cul-de-sac, led by God to that tight place, it is there you will discover some phenomenal surprises designed just for you. That’s why Moses said, “Look, let’s stand still. There’s a great blessing here for us that we’ll miss if we turn tail and run.”
You know the common response to panic? First, we become afraid. Second, we run. Third, we fight. Fourth, we tell everybody. God’s counsel is just the opposite. Don’t be afraid. Stand still. Watch Him work. Keep quiet. It’s then that He does His best work on our behalf. He takes over! He then handles our predicament opposite the way we’d do it. The Lord is tapping His foot, waiting for us to wait.
Your PNC continues our search for our next pastor. We covet your prayers as we persevere in the task that you have entrusted to us.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (April 2022)
This week Pastor Glenn preached from the gospel of John chapter 20. This scripture chronicles the events that took place with the apostles in the weeks immediately following the resurrection of Jesus. A week after the resurrection, the disciples, without Thomas, were huddled in a locked room for fear of what the Jewish leaders would do to them if found. Miraculously, Jesus appears to them and says, “Peace be with you”. He breaths on them and they receive the Holy Spirit. We all know the story where Thomas refuses to believe what the others told him without seeing for himself. A week later when Jesus once again appears to them, he tells Thomas “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
How often are we just like Thomas refusing to accept what is said or done without seeing it for ourselves? Believing without seeing proof is what faith is all about. The bible has much to say about believing without seeing. The book of John alone references this throughout. But if it were to be summed up in one word for believing without seeing, it would be “blessed”. While none of us have actually seen Jesus, we choose through faith to believe in Him and His saving grace.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7
The candidate that was hosted by the PNC in March, has decided to accept a call to another church closer to their current home. The committee continues their search with the help of the Vanderbloemen Search Group. We have faith that God has already chosen our next pastor and that He will reveal it to us in His time. Please continue to keep us in your prayers.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (March 2022)
What is Lent? The word “Lent” comes from the Old English word “lengten,” which simply means “spring” — when the days lengthen and new life springs forth. It is a time in which we anticipate the victory of the light and life of Christ over the darkness of sin and death. It is my prayer that as you journey from Ash Wednesday to Easter, you would be reminded of the reality of our broken humanity, but as days grow brighter, you would experience with greater abundance the reality of God’s redeeming grace.
It is easy to forget that this is also a time of preparation for the Jews. Passover is the holiest of times for the children if Israel. God gave Moses specific instructions for His people to follow on that solemn night when the angel of death visited Egypt.
“Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it…” Exodus 12:7-8 (ESV)
The account of the Passover with which Israel begins its exit out of Egypt and slavery is in many ways the central story of the Old Testament. It is meant to speak profoundly to God’s people. On the one hand, it is a reminder that unless God intervenes and covers us, we are in the same condition as everyone else: part of a rebel creation that stands under God’s judgment and condemnation. That is always part of our identity as human beings and without it we cannot walk in humility either before God or others.
On the other hand, it is a reminder that the primary thing God wants from us is trust. He wants us to trust that he is merciful and that he cares for us. He wants us to trust that he desires to save and not condemn us. That is why he became incarnate in the person of Jesus. And he wants our lives to issue in the acts of obedience that manifest our trust in him – whether that is putting blood on our doorposts and eating the Passover meal as was the case for the Israelites or remembering Jesus’ death which saved us when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper and then living lives of forgiveness and generosity. Is your life being characterized by this kind of humility and trust?
Your PNC continues to search for our next pastor. Please keep us in your prayers.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (February 2022)
We all from time to time can use some words of encouragement. A new friend shared this scripture passage with me on which to meditate.
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)
This month has been a time when such encouragement is welcomed. We identified a strong candidate that was interested in our church. We were hopeful that this was the one that was chosen to lead us into the future. However, before we were able to nail down a date for an interview the candidate and family decided that South Boston was not where they were being led. With that we continue to “run with perseverance” and seek the path that God has laid out for us. We do have another candidate that we hope to continue in conversation.
This is where we must rely on God to reveal to us to the next pastor that He has chosen to lead our congregation. We are using all the resources available to achieve that goal.
13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV)
We covet your prayers us as we continue the task that you have entrusted to us.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (January 2022)
What is taking so long? How much longer?
While no one has asked me this question, I know that it cannot help but be on everyone’s mind.
I’m sure that we have observed the real estate market over the years. There are times when there is a limited number of properties available for sale and buyers must compete against each other. This is called a “seller’s market” where often sell for prices higher than the asking price. At other times, the inventory of properties is large. Sellers find themselves in competition with other property owners. Sellers must negotiate and grant concessions to buyers to sell. This is called a “buyer’s market”.
The environment in today’s world of church ministry has not been good. Pastors are reaching “burn out” and choosing to leave the ministry in increasing numbers. This coupled with the added stress of a global pandemic has accelerated this alarming trend. Our denomination, the PC(USA), is no exception. The result of this trend is that many churches seeking a pastor must look at a limited pool of potential candidates. You might say that it is “buyer’s (pastors) market”.
Given these circumstances, the quick solution would be to attempt to call the first available candidate found. There is danger in that approach. We not only need to find a pastor, but the right candidate needs to be a “good fit” for our church. This is where we must rely on God to reveal to us to the next pastor that He has chosen to lead our congregation. We are using all the resources available to achieve that goal.
5Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
Pray for us as we continue the task that you have entrusted to us.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (December 2021)
More than 700 years before the birth of -Christ in Bethlehem, the prophet Isaiah predicted the events of that blessed night.
6For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. – Isaiah 9:6-7 (NIV)
Man had already been excluded from eternal life in heaven because of sin. The wages of sin is death. Yet God out of His infinite love created a way to bridge that gap between God and man by offering His son, Jesus, to pay once and for all for our sin.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16 (NIV)
Your PNC continues to work to work with our search firm to identify and vet potential candidates for our pastor. The Christmas holiday season does slow things down due to it
being the “busy” time for pastors. This month possible candidates have been identified and we continue discussion with them.
Keep us in your prayers as we continue the task that you have entrusted to us.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (November 2021)
This month my thoughts go all the way back to the time right before Jesus ascended to the Father. Can you imagine the excitement and anticipation that the apostles felt as they gathered on the mountainside? It had been forty days since the miraculous resurrection of Christ. During that time, He revealed himself to many of the believers, on one occasion a
group of more than 500 at one time (1 Corinthians 15:6). His last instruction to his disciples is captured by Matthew in his gospel, chapter 28 called “The Great Commission”:
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to
go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to
them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go
and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV)
The question that we must ask ourselves is what have we done lately to “go and make disciples”? As we continue in our search for our new pastor, we must ensure that our focus is on the important work the Lord has directed.
Your PNC continues to work with our search firm to identify and vet potential candidates for our pastor. This month two possibilities decided to pursue other opportunities while we continue discussion with another promising person.
Your prayers are appreciated as we continue the task that you have entrusted to us.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (October 2021)
Last month I took an opportunity to “vent” about just how difficult this process has been. We are not the first group that has endured trials. James, who was the leader of the Christian church in Jerusalem, reminds us that we will face trials and temptations. He says it
is important that we persevere and put our faith in action.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything… 12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. – James 1:2-4, 12 (NIV)
This month not much has changed. We continue to wait on some complicated issues to be resolved with one candidate while our search firm moves forward vetting additional potential pastors for our church. In all of this we press on putting our faith in action while seeking God’s will for our church.
We hold on to the assurances found in His word well put by the apostle Paul.
13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV)
We covet your prayers as we persevere in the task that you have entrusted to us.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (September 2021)
4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. 5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, – Romans 15:4-5 (NIV)
Strong words of encouragement from the apostle Paul in his letter to the church in Rome.
September 2021 marks 18 months since the PNC began this search process. At this point in time, we could all use some encouragement. This is not an easy task, and the very future of our church may be at stake. As time drags on, we have seen excitement as we talk with “promising” candidates and felt disappointment as these potential pastors decide not to continue our dialog. I know that solo pastoring a relatively small church in rural southern Virginia is not a position that appeals to everyone. Couple that with the challenges of this time of transition and a global pandemic there is plenty of cause for worry. This is when we must look to God’s Word for strength and encouragement.
Please pray for us as we watch doors close and others open. We know that God has already selected our next pastor and that He will reveal them to us in His time.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (August 2021)
The search continues! The candidate that we were talking with has decided to accept a call to another church.
On August 4th our Account Executive from the Vanderbloemen Group present two new candidates to the PNC. What was different this time was that both candidates had applied to the job listing at Vanderbloemen as opposed to having to be recruited. Both applicants were well qualified and have a wealth of experience. Initial interviews have been conducted with both. This is encouraging and we look forward to our continued dialog with them.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
We covet your prayers and encouragement as we continue down this road to complete the task entrusted to us. We constantly seek God’s will and guidance as we labor.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (July 2021)
The PNC is continuing discussion with the candidate that we last interviewed in June. We have encountered some communication issues that have hindered our continued dialog. We know that the candidate is talking with three other churches as well, so the competition is on!
Additionally, our account executive at Vanderbloemen is in the process of vetting 3 or 4 promising candidates for the PNC to look at as well. We welcome all this activity and are encouraged that we may be getting closer to identifying the next pastor for our church.
I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. Colossians 4:8
Your continued prayers and your encouragement are truly cherished as we continue with this important work. We constantly seek God’s will and guidance as we labor to complete the task entrusted to us.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (June 2021)
The PNC met with our account executive from Vanderbloemen on Sunday, June 6th and was presented with a potential candidate. Based on the information presented to us, we
scheduled and conducted a first interview with this candidate on June 14th.
The interview and discussion went very well, and we pray that we can continue a dialog with this individual. Note that we have been at this point in the process with several previous candidates only to find out that they chose to withdraw from consideration. We remain cautiously optimistic and pray that God’s choice for our next pastor is being revealed to us.
But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you,
Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are
mine. Isaiah 43:1
We thank you for your continued prayers and your encouragement as we “wait” on the Lord. You have entrusted us with this important task and we seek God’s will and guidance as we labor to complete it.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (April 2021)
As I reported last month, we are continuing in another “search cycle” with the Vanderbloemen Search Group. We hope to have some new candidates to review shortly. We continue to receive additional downloads of PIF’s (resumes) from the PC(USA) Church Leadership Connection (CLC). To date we have received over 300 PIF’s (resumes) from PCUSA and Vanderbloemen has screened these submissions for potential candidates that would be a “good fit” for our church.
This month we were contacted directly by a candidate who expressed interest in our church. However, before we were able to screen and schedule an interview, he withdrew his name (in just a matter of days) from consideration because he began discussions with another church. To say the least, this is frustrating!
I know that I must sound like a broken record but through all of this, we continue to accept that God has already selected our next pastor and that He will reveal His choice to us in His time. James 1: 2-3 says “2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
We thank you for your continued prayers and your encouragement as we “persevere” with the work to which you have entrusted us.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (March 2021)
As I reported last month, we are in another “search cycle” with the Vanderbloemen Search Group. We hope to have some new candidates to review within the next month. To date we have received around 300 PIF’s (resumes) from PCUSA and Vanderbloemen has screened
nearly 3000 potential candidates. The COVID19 pandemic has also added further complexity to our search process. Through all of this, we continue to accept that God has already selected our next pastor and that He will reveal His choice to us in His time. We have to truly “wait on the Lord” even when we want the answer right now. We covet your continued prayers as we move forward with the work that you have entrusted to us.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (February 2021)
Last month I shared that Vanderbloemen had identified several candidates for our PNC to review as potentials for our next pastor. Of the two candidates presented, we selected one
to pursue. Unfortunately, after conducting an encouraging interview with a well-qualified candidate, they decided that this was not the right call for them. I am sure that you can feel our disappointment and frustration. But we must accept that God has already selected
our next pastor and that He will reveal His choice to us in His time.
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14
It is at times like these that we have to truly “wait on the Lord” even when we want the answer right now. We covet your continued prayers as we move forward with the work that you have entrusted to us.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (January 2021)
The Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) continues to work with the Vanderbloemen Group in the search for our next pastor. We are scheduled to meet on Sunday, January 24th to review candidates. Our prayer is that God will reveal our next pastor to us sooner rather than later. We are assured that God has already selected the person who will serve as our next pastor and that He will make this obvious to us in His time.
The PNC asks for your continued prayers as we perform the work that you have entrusted to us.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (December 18, 2020)
The Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) continues to work with the Vanderbloemen Group in the search for our next pastor. In our most recent communication with our Account Executive, we were told that they will have several candidates to present to the PNC for consideration. To date between our committee and Vanderbloemen we have reviewed well over 300 Personal Information Forms (PIF’s) and resumes of pastors actively seeking a new call. We continue to be assured the God has already selected the person who will serve as our next pastor and pray that He will reveal His choice to us soon.
In this season as we celebrate the birth of the Christ child, so long ago in the small town of
Bethlehem, we thank God for this precious gift of a savior who will reconcile us through his
death on the cross and pay for all our sins. Through His grace we are offered the gift of eternal life.
While this has been a difficult year, one that we hope to not experience again, we should focus on our blessings and celebrate the greatest gift ever given. We wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
The PNC asks for your continued prayers as we perform the work that you have entrusted to us.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (November 30, 2020)
The Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) continues to work with the Vanderbloemen Group in the search for our next pastor. We are in regular communication with them as we review and consider potential candidates. We were told early on that filling this position would be a challenge and that the pool of potential candidates for Solo-Pastor in a small town would be limited. That has proven to be true. As you can imagine, the current pandemic situation has served to increase the challenges that we face. Rest assured the God has already selected the person who will serve as our next pastor. Our prayer is that He will reveal His choice to us in His time, hopefully soon.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. Daniel 2:22 (NIV)
6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. John 17:6 (NIV)
The PNC covets your prayers as we continue the work that you have entrusted to us.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (August 18, 2020)
The Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) has a meeting scheduled with Vanderbloemen, our search firm, on Sunday, August 23rd. At this meeting we will be presented with some potential candidates that have been vetted as a “good fit” for our church.
At that point any candidates of interest to the committee will be scheduled for initial video interviews. Please keep the PNC in your prayers as we move forward with the work that you have entrusted to us. We pray that God quickly reveals to us the Pastor that he has selected to lead First Presbyterian Church of South Boston into the future.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (July 22, 2020)
On July 5th, the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) had an update meeting with our account executive, Jay Mitchell, from the Vanderbloemen search group. Jay shared the progress that has been made so far in the search process. To date they have registered a total of 593 website visits for our job posting. The search team has identified 8 candidates that may potentially be of interest. Additionally, they have reached out to another 59 candidates through their networking contacts. This list of potential candidates is being screened and vetted with the goal of presenting the PNC with a list of 3 to 5 “good fit”
candidates for us to review at our next meeting in August. At that point we will begin to
schedule initial video interviews with those that have been identified.
Please keep the PNC in your prayers as we continue the work that you have entrusted to us. Pray that Gods reveals to us the next Pastor that he has selected to lead us into the future.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (June 12, 2020)
Your Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) has been hard at work in the search process for the next leader for our congregation. Over the past few months, we have reviewed over 70 resumes and still have not found a suitable candidate that is available. It has become clear to us why this process takes so long. In light of this realization, we requested and received approval from the Session to engage an executive search firm that specializes is church staffing. The Company’s name is Vanderbloemen based in Houston, Texas.
Click here to view our job posting on the Vanderbloemen website.
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) Update (March 27, 2020)
I want to take a moment to update everyone on the progress of the PNC. (We have had to learn the meaning of many acronyms!) Since we were elected by the congregation, we have been hard at work following the process as outlined by the PCUSA. We began with the first of two two-hour training sessions conducted by representatives of the Presbytery Committee on Ministry (COM). This training concentrated on organizing the PNC and instructions on completion of the Ministry Information Form (MIF), which is like a resume for our church. We were told that this process usually takes an average of 6 to 8 weeks to complete.
Training complete, we went to work on putting together our MIF. This document includes information about the church (membership, attendance, demographics, etc.), answers to four narrative questions, leadership competencies desired for new pastor, salary and job description. Once the MIF is complete, we had to present it to the Session for approval and upload the MIF to the PCUSA Church Leadership Connection (CLC) System where it is approved by the Presbytery and released to begin the matching process. We completed this work in record time, just over two weeks!
The next step will be the second two-hour training session which will cover to procedure for reviewing Pastor Information Forms (PIF), pastor resumes. Given the challenges that we are facing due to the current health crisis, we will have to be “creative” to complete this step. We have already begun screening some PIF’s. This will be a long and detailed exercise as we evaluate potentially hundreds of resumes to identify our next pastor. We covet your prayers as we continue the work that you have entrusted to our committee.
Grace and peace, Don Cherry, PNC Chairman
On March 1, 2020 a Congregational Meeting was held to elect a Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC).
The members elected were: Sterling Byrd-Roberts, Richard (Rick) Harrell, Joni Owens, Colter Wickemeyer and Donald (Don) Cherry.
The pastor nominating committee (PNC), representative of the whole congregation and elected by the congregation, has the ultimate responsibility for nominating a minister to the congregation for election as the next pastor or associate pastor. Over a number of months, the PNC will journey through the pastoral search process, seeking to hear the call of Christ and “to participate in God’s own choice” for our next pastor.