As we begin 2014, Terri and I wanted to share with you that after much prayer and conversation this will be our last year in Jackson Hole. I have been privileged to share nearly 20 years of life and ministry with you. We have felt God closing this chapter of our lives and have known we must respond. Therein we met with the Session on Tuesday evening, January 21, informed them of our decision and had a special meeting with the staff of PCJH on Wednesday and shared this decision as well. As we near the end of this phase of ministry we know we have been blessed.
The normal process a pastor would pursue in concluding a ministry would be to seek a new call, receive and accept a new call, and then tell the congregation. As you can see we are not following this process. The issue of Terri and my transition from PCJH was mentioned a number of times in the Long Range Planning interviews. I felt announcing this decision now might allow PCJH to better evaluate and plan the future ministry to which God is calling this part of his family.
With this announcement begins a series of decisions PCJH must make. The first decision to be addressed will take place at our Congregational Meeting on Sunday February 9, following worship. The question before us will be:
How will PCJH pursue new pastoral leadership?
At the request of the Long Range Planning Committee, the Personnel Team has been researching PCJH’s options and will report those options to Session. At the February 9 meeting Session will present to the congregation this research, the option it feels is best for PCJH, and the rationale behind that option. It is the responsibility of the congregation to discuss and vote on its desired direction.
With the importance of this coming congregational meeting I need to remind you about a couple central elements within a Presbyterian congregation:
1. Presbyterians do things in a “fitting and orderly way” (1 Corinthians 15:40). Prayer and dialogue are central to this process. We believe God directs his people as we pray, talk, discern and vote on how we believe the Holy Spirit is leading. Prepare for the future in prayer.
2. Only those who are ‘Active Members’ of the church have a voice and vote at meetings. An ‘Affiliate Member’ can attend and speak but not vote. An ‘Inactive’ or ‘Non-member’ is welcome to attend and listen. If you are not an ‘Active Member’ and have considered being one there will be a Church Information Class Thursday, February 6, 5:30 pm.
And what will the Hayden’s do next? God has yet to reveal this portion of our journey. In March I will be completing my second week of Interim Pastoral Training, a special program to help churches that are in transition. We feel God may be calling us to this unique ministry. In addition, if a church does approach us to serve we would prayerfully consider that possibility. Regardless, we will be completing our ministry at PCJH on or before August 31, 2014 but not sooner than May 15. Please keep us in prayer as this chapter of life comes to completion and we seek God’s leading as to what is next.
Finally, Terri and I have been privileged to live in Jackson Hole and honored to serve you, the people of PCJH and the broader community. With many of you we have become friends and with some we have become family. We have been blessed to be part of the work God has developed in and through this congregation. Thank you for allowing us to be part of your life, for the many ways you have supported us, and for your participation in advancing God’s Kingdom in and through PCJH.