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    Sunday, August 06, 2006

    Resumes' Please....

    From the Arkansas Democrat Gazette:
    Between pastors

    Four Southern Baptist churches are searching for the right men to fill empty pulpits.

    BY LAURA LYNN BROWN ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

    The Rev. Cary Heard goes to Park Hill Baptist Church in North Little Rock every Sunday, like he has for decades. But since January, Heard is no longer in the pulpit; he retired in January after 30 years as the church’s senior pastor. Park Hill is one of several prominent Southern Baptist congregations going through the process of searching for a new leader.
    Some denominations, such as Catholic and United Methodist churches, simply accept whatever priest or minister has been appointed by their respective bishops. Southern Baptists are among those on the other end of the spectrum. Each congregation is self-governing, and each conducts its own search for a new leader.
    Immanuel Baptist Church, one of the best-known congregations in Little Rock, is without a pastor since the Rev.
    Rex Horne left in April to become president of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia.
    Little Rock’s First Baptist Church, a smaller congregation, is searching for a new pastor since the Rev. Mark Howell left last November to lead a large Houston congregation.
    And University Baptist Church in Fayetteville is still looking for a pastor since the Rev. H.D. McCarty retired in January 2004 after 39 years at the church and 33 years as chaplain to the University of Arkansas Razorbacks.
    At Little Rock’s First, the first task was to find an interim preacher, said David Porter, a member of the search committee.
    For an interim minister, they wanted someone with the same characteristics they’re looking for in a full-time senior pastor, he said, such as leadership and
    pastoral skills — something more than “just filling the pulpit on Sundays.”
    After they looked at several possibilities, someone recommended Don Moore, a longtime pastor and former executive director of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, who was serving as an interim pastor at another Baptist church. When that church called a pastor, Moore became available, and recently started his work at Little Rock’s First.
    The committee of four men and three women has been meeting weekly for about six months and has made some trips to listen to candidates preach, Porter said.

    They’re not making as many trips as search committees have in the past, though.
    “We listen to a lot of sermons online, which is a great resource now,” he said.
    Russ Harrington, chairman of the search committee at Immanuel, was also on the search committee that called Horne 16 years ago, before the advent of the World Wide Web.
    “It’s amazing the difference the technology has made,” said Harrington, who is also president and CEO of Baptist Health Systems. “Every church has a Web site. Many of them have sermons online. On some of them you even get video.”
    The search for Horne didn’t take long, Harrington recalled.
    His name came up early, and “he immediately gelled. He was a fit for our church. This time I think it will take longer.”
    Like most churches, Immanuel has developed a list of what it wants in a new senior pastor. The eight “desirable attributes” are a strong, Christ-centered leader with impeccable character; a dynamic preacher; theologically sound; a God-led visionary; a commitment to missions and evangelism; wise and well-educated; a proven administrator; able to relate to the entire church family and the community.
    About 10 months into its work, the search committee at Park Hill Baptist Church hasn’t visited a preacher or listened to any sermons on tape or the Internet yet.
    The process is different from a secular job search. “In the business world, we’d bring in candidates, interview them and choose someone,” Kent Farris said. “That’s not what we do.”
    The committee is purposely not listening to sermons yet because they’re maintaining an attitude of being “open and waiting,” Farris said. Members of all
    committees talk about feeling led by God or the Holy Spirit in their choices. “It’s hard to explain that. It’s so unique.”
    Having served on other search committees, Farris knows what it feels like to find the right man.
    “When you find that candidate, it’s like it leaps off the page at you,” he said. “That’s when you feel the leadership of the Lord moving in your heart.”
    Park Hill’s list of criteria includes someone who is seminary-trained and has some pastoral experience, but it has no age limitations, he said.
    Farris’ job is to keep the staff of 73 running smoothly in the transition period, a job he’s used to after 20 years as the church administrator. Attendance has stayed steady at 1,200 or 1,300 per week, he said.

    When a pastor has been in one place a long time, like Heard’s 30 years at Park Hill, it can take longer to find a new pastor. “It’s a very healthy thing,” Farris said. It gives the congregation a transition time so they won’t expect a carbon copy of the minister who just left. And it can give people in the pews a boost to become more involved in the work of ministry.
    University Baptist Church in Fayetteville has been searching
    1
    for 2 /2 years for a pastor since McCarty retired in January 2004, after 39 years with the church.
    The search committee there has narrowed a large number of resumes down to a short list of candidates, said committee chairman Tanner Riley. They used Scripture and congregational questionnaires to come up with a profile of what they’d like in a new pastor. The top criterion is “a person who has a deep belief in the authenticity of the
    Bible and would preach that very straightforwardly,” he said. Since the church has a large collegeage attendance, the pastor should also be someone who relates well to all age groups, he said.
    The church has suffered some loss in attendance in its interim period. It has 1,300 members and attendance averages 600, he said. But giving is increasing.
    In 2005 the church set a record for financial giving, including regular offerings, a Christmas offering for international missions and a debt retirement campaign. “People vote with their wallets,” Riley said.
    “The church probably needs some breathing time between pastors, and that’s why this interim process has been so good for us.”
    For one thing, the congrega
    tion has thought about what it is apart from a minister.
    “Part of this interim process has been to work on our own self identity as a church,” he said. The church has developed a written statement about its identity and mission.
    Members are also doing more than warming the pews on Sunday, Riley said.
    “There’s a new understanding that every person has a responsibility,” following the New Testament metaphor of the body, he said. “There’s a new sense of unity in the church that is wonderfully healthy.”

    posted by Arkansas Razorbaptist at 8/06/2006 04:56:00 PM

    2 Comments:

    Blogger Kevin Bussey said...

    We just moved. I don't think we can take another one quite yet. Although my dad's side of the family is from your great state!

    Monday, August 07, 2006 8:43:00 AM  
    Blogger Bart Barber said...

    I fear that God has forever sent me away from the unparalleled "Natural State." But, what would Texas do without missionaries from God's Country?

    Tuesday, August 08, 2006 4:59:00 PM  

    Post a Comment

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