Dear members and friends of Desert Heritage Church,
Our congregation’s traditional practice of “calling” a pastor affirms the active presence of God’s Spirit in the search process. We prayerfully seek a pastor with particular gifts and skills while recognizing that candidates are also engaged in a Spirit-led discernment process. Thus our church enters into a covenant with a new pastor always knowing that God may sometimes call that pastor to a new ministry setting.
In the days that have elapsed since Rev. Paul Whitlock mailed us his resignation letter, we have been keenly aware of God’s new calling for him even as we have experienced a profound sense of loss. It is not easy to think about ending a Spirit-filled thirteen year ministry. These next two months together will be a precious time, and we will inform you soon about our plans for special events to celebrate Paul’s ministry.
The members of our board have already been approached by some of you with the haunting question, “Our pastor is leaving . . . what will we do?” We want to assure you that we have already been in touch with our UCC Southwest Conference Minister, Rev. Dr. William M. Lyons and the Rev. Denny Williams our Regional Minister for the Christian Church (DOC). We will schedule a special meeting of our board later this month to hear directly from Bill and Denny our procedures during a time of pastoral transition. It was suggested that we share with you this brief overview:
- We will select an interim pastor to provide continuity in worship, pastoral care, and program/staff oversight. Both will advise us on this process; we have been assured that are several excellent candidates available who offer the specialized skills needed during a transition time. This pastor will not be a candidate for the “settled” position.
- After the interim pastor is in place, we will initiate a search process for a new pastor in accordance with our bylaws. We will invite all of you to be part of a self-study that will identify our church’s pastoral needs. And we will develop a church profile for our potential candidates.
- Our Conference offices will advertise our vacancy among UCC and DOC clergy all across the country. Our search committee will read ministerial profiles, screen candidates, conduct interviews, check references, and eventually select a candidate who will be recommended to the entire congregation.
We send this letter so you will know that we are taking steps to think about our future. We will keep you informed on a regular basis. For now, let us express our gratitude to God for Paul’s ministry and enter into a time of celebration with him and his family. Please keep them in your prayers even as you know from experience that he will be praying for us.
In Christ’s name,
The DHC Board