December 2019 Update
Dear Church Members and Friends:
As we await the celebration of Christ’s birth, we indeed have much to be cheerful about. The Brick Church congregation is a strong and vibrant community of dedicated and faithful members, spreading God’s message of love into the world.
- Since January, we received 23 new families in membership. These wonderful families are committed to growing in faith with our congregation and are already participating in committees and volunteer work.
- We baptized 37 people this year—including two adults. Our church is a place where people of all ages come to be nurtured in faith and marked as Christ’s own forever.
- Our Sunday School program offers Christian Education to 190 children and youth, with 113 volunteer leaders. We recently welcomed Kiah Baxter to our staff to work with our children’s ministries. Later today, she will lead the children in our Christmas Pageant Service.
- We welcomed 27 confirmands as members with their profession of faith in May. These students are the future of our church and serve as leaders—not only through the Order of St. Paul, but by serving on Committees and as Youth Elders and Deacons, and as members who carry the work of God into the broader world.
- We provided field training for 6 seminarians (3 last season, and 3 now), who are growing in their ability to lead their own congregations one day.
- We completed the very detailed 2019 Mission Review Report, which provided great insight into the needs and perspectives of our congregation.
- We addressed a growing budget deficit, the result of attrition from the city during a period of increased fixed expenses, and right-sized our budget to prepare for our next senior minister. At the end of December, our Trustees provided a Financial Update before worship that can be viewed HERE and provides information not only about the progress made this year, but also about a gift from a generous church family to establish the new Angel Reserve Fund to assist the church during temporary periods of financial stress.
- All church families received a copy of E. Deane Turner’s most recent publication, A Legacy of Sacred Songs: Some Historic Favorites of the Brick Church. This gift to the congregation was funded by another anonymous and generous Brick family with admiration for Mr. Turner’s publications and affection for Brick’s extraordinary Music Ministry.
Our Pastor Nominating Committee is working incredibly hard and provides the following update:
“Your PNC continues to meet at least weekly, and is working diligently, prayerfully seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to discern who God is calling to be our new senior pastor. We are continuing to review in depth a substantial subset of extremely exciting prospective candidates and continue to narrow down the list of potential individuals. We thank you for your faithful prayers for God’s direction to us as we continue to work through this process.”
I extend my heartfelt thanks to all the staff who have served so faithfully and diligently this year. I extend special thanks to Rev. Douglas King, Senior Associate Minister, and Rev. Adam Gorman, Associate Minister of Faith Formation and Congregational Fellowship. Doug and Adam will continue to provide deep and faithful leadership of your congregation into the new year. We also extend thanks to Amanda Smith for her 15 years of service, and remind you to join us for a celebration of Amanda on January 12th.
I also extend my thanks to you as a congregation, and to your lay leaders who serve on committees and boards, and volunteer in a myriad of ways to keep our community and programs strong. You are the heart and soul of the Brick Presbyterian Church.
So, be of good cheer! God is at work and 2020, Brick’s 253rd year, will usher in a new era with a new Senior Minister supported by a stellar team and a faithful congregation. All of us wish each of you a very Merry Christmas!
Grace and Peace,
November 2019 Update
August 2019 Update
- Celebration Sunday is on Sept. 15! Adult Education begins and new officers are ordained and installed in worship. Our Youth Kickoff follows on Sept. 22.
- The annual Fall Fling on Sept. 20, hosted by our Women’s Association, overflows with food, drinks, and music. It’s a great time to come together while supporting vital missions for women and children in the city.
- Wednesday evening communion services begin on Oct. 2 at 6:30 p.m.this year, and will again be preceded by our Wednesday Night Dinner Program Ministry where we come together to cook for and eat with Neighborhood Coalition for Shelter residents.
- The Brick Church School begins a new era of leadership! Amy Warden, Director, and Elena Jaime, Associate Director, are busily preparing for the new school year. We can’t wait to have the building (and elevator) filled again with excited voices, laughter, and the sights and sounds of learning. Come meet Amy and Elena at a dinner on Oct. 3 (see below).
- Our Sunday Church School begins with Teacher Training on Sept. 14. We look forward to meeting our new captains and learning about special security efforts. We will be expanding our church school for children on most Holiday weekends this year as they learn and grow in Christ.
- The Women’s Bible Study (evening and morning sessions) will be studying the Psalms beginning Sept. 24 and 26. The Men’s Bible Study (Thursday mornings) will delve into the Gospel of John beginning Sept. 19. Working Women’s Fellowship resumes on Sept. 26.
- After church each Sunday, fellowship continues in the Garden as long as weather permits. New name tags will be introduced and get ready to sing “Happy Birthday” each month as we have cake to celebrate those turning a year older.
- Two Progressive Dinners will be held on Oct. 3 and 17. Drinks, dinner and dessert will be served in various beautiful spaces in the church. We will break bread together, hear about church initiatives in our ministries and mission, and meet new faces on the staff (Don Nagle, Interim COO/CFO, Amy Warden and Elena Jaime, and Ruben Nuño from Church of the Living Hope).
June 2019 Update
“God’s steadfast love endures forever.”
The Old Testament is a record of Israel’s experiences of faithfulness and faltering before God, but it is above all things a record of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness to Israel. Psalm 136 is a litany of this faithfulness. In call and response style, God’s mighty acts are recited, from creation, to slavery in Egypt, exodus, wilderness, and entrance into the Promised Land. In every verse, after their history is recalled, the congregation proclaims: “for his steadfast love endures forever.” Say it often enough, together enough, and it becomes a bedrock of the faith community’s memory and liturgy.
In January, the Session approved a Church and Budget Work Group to take a “deep dive” into our budget because of a growing structural deficit. The Church and Budget Work Group consisted of 16 to 18 people representing a cross-section ofelders, trustees, and a deacon; Mission Review co-chairs and Stewardship co-chairs; members of the Endowment Committee; members from Joint Finance, Personnel, Mission and Outreach, Day School, and Congregational Fellowship Committees. This group committed to three meetings of several hours duration each: Feb. 2, April 6, and May 4. In between, members divided into small groups for hours more of targeted inquiry and open-ended thinking. The goal was to identify ways to right-size our budget and then offer recommendations to the Session and Trustees. The Church and Budget Work Group engaged in conversation and consensus-building. By May 4, there was enough clarity to make recommendations to some Session Committees for further consideration.
During the Annual Meeting of the Congregation on April 28, the congregation was alerted by Richard Miller, President of the Trustees, to the significance of the deficit and the need to address it. Richard Miller, Henry Barkhorn, Charlie Anderson, and Stefan Kruger have made two presentations on the details of the deficit which have been open to all in the congregation; a third will be offeredat 12:45 p.m. this Sunday, June 9.
The Session and Trustees will hold a joint meeting in executive session on June 12 to consider the recommendations from this careful and collaborative process. A comprehensive deficit reduction plan will be presented for action. Because the deficit is in excess of $700,000, such a plan will necessitate restructuring how we are currently operating in significant ways. We will communicate this plan to the whole congregation upon approval.
The Church and Budget Work Group always began with Bible Study and prayer. Our last meeting centered on a study of Psalm 136.
“God’s steadfast love endures forever.”
At the first meeting of the Church and Budget Work Group, along with scripture, I read this brief excerpt from E. Deane Turner’s history of The Brick Presbyterian Church (Vol I, page 195), recalling the state of things when Dr. Herbert B. Anderson began his ministry: “The times were not encouraging for the City. It had lost heavily in the shifts to the suburbs or other cities of company headquarters. Home to 128 of the Fortune 500 in 1965, by 1975 it had but 90, all accompanied by serious job losses… The direct impact of all that on Brick included a decline in reported membership from 1,369 in 1970 to 865 just after Dr. Anderson arrived.”
“God’s steadfast love endures forever.”
Turning back the pages further, to the time when Dr. Paul Austin Wolfe arrived in 1938, Europe and much of the world was in turmoil. Deane writes (page 154):
“In this unsettled climate a primary concern for the new senior pastor was the shaky financial condition of the Brick Church. In a pastoral letter in the January 26, 1939 Record he related the facts of the serious but not yet desperate situation. …Of the membership of 927 on the rolls, only 368 subscribed to the Church’s budget and half the gifts came from fourteen people.”
“God’s steadfast love endures forever.”
We have journeyed this way before. Though we face a significant deficit that must be addressed, Brick is a healthy congregation: We regularly receive new members and celebrate the Sacrament of baptism in numbers other churches only dream of experiencing. Our ministries are active; our fellowship is strong. Faithful giving remains steady. Yet, expenses are exceeding revenues. A noticeable number of families have been moving out of the City. So once again, we are in need of a course correction. We will do this hard work now so that your new Senior Minister begins with strength and financial health.
I commend the courage, determination, and faithfulness so many members, committees, and officers have displayed. Their leadership on behalf of the whole congregation is yet another sign of the strength of Brick.
At all times and in every circumstance on the journey of faith, we falter and are faithful, yet we respond with confidence because:
“God’s steadfast love endures forever.”
Grace and Peace,
May 2019 – The Brick Church Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) is Chosen Plus Updates
The Brick Church Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) has met several times since being elected by the congregation on April 28 at The Brick Church Annual Meetings. The PNC has met with our liaison from the Presbytery of New York City, as required by our polity, and they have organized themselves as a committee. They are currently in the process of prayerfully creating the Ministry Information Form which, after approval by Session and the Presbytery, will be posted on the Presbyterian Church (USA) website, and will effectively announce the job availability. The PNC will also publicize the call in relevant publications, and will reach out to friends of our church for recommendations as to who God might be calling to this position. Although much of their work is confidential, we do encourage our members to recommend any individuals who you feel might be a good fit for our congregation. Referrals can be sent to the committee vial mail or by using the PNC email address. Thank you for your prayers and support of their work.
The 2019 Brick Church Pastor Nominating Committee is: (from l to r): David Darst, Pam Dickson-Thorpe, Chair; Sarah Blais, Helen Pennoyer, David Wells, Shelby Carroll, Henry Barkhorn, Helen Lynch, Charles Higgins
April 2019 Search Committee Update
March 2019 Update
At our March 13th meeting of the Session, the Report of the Mission Review Team was presented and approved. The Mission Review Report now moves to the Presbytery’s Commission on Ministry for approval in the first half of April. Once approved by both bodies, we are free to elect the Pastor Nominating Committee!
In addition to submitting the Mission Review Report to the Commission on Ministry, the Session has requested the COM to approve the renewal of my contract as the Transitional Senior Minister. And we have requested permission to elect our Pastor Nominating Committee at the Annual Meeting of the Congregation on April 28th immediately following worship. At that time the congregation will also elect Elders, Deacons, Trustees, and the All Church Nominating Committee.
The Brick Presbyterian Church is on its way—decently and in order—to search for its next installed Senior Minister! The months ahead will be exciting, prayerful, and hopeful with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The Mission Review Team is eager to share their Report with you. They will make copies of it available to everyone and will also host several opportunities to gather for discussion of it in Town Hall formats. We must wait for the Report’s approval from the Presbytery first, but once that is complete, the Report will be shared.
The Session passed a motion to extend its deep gratitude to the Mission Review Team for their service and hard work over these many months. We will find a time to thank them in worship as well.
I know there must be many questions about the search process and we will seek to answers these questions and keep you informed. Here are two questions that are likely to be the first of many:
How long will the search take?
Only the Holy Spirit knows! The search process is not as quick as an Executive Search might be for a business. The Pastor Nominating Committee will have organizing work to do and will need to spend time getting to know one another through prayer and conversation. They will have a denominational “Ministry Information Form” to complete before they can advertise the position. We will all need to trust that God’s timing is the right timing.
How long is the contract period for the Transitional Senior Minister?
My initial contract was for one year: March 15, 2018-March 15, 2019. It has been renewed for another year. However, there is a clause that allows the contract to end at any time with a two-month notice. This means that if the PNC finds your next Senior Minister prior to the end of my contract, there is ample time for me to move and for you to prepare to welcome your new Senior Minister!
Grace and Peace,
February 2019 Update
A Change in Seasons: Though my southern heart longs to see signs of spring budding by late February into early March, I know it is too early for that here in the City of New York. Still, the days are lengthening and so far predicted snow storms have mostly resulted in rainfall accumulations rather than snowfall depths. Though winter still holds, we know spring is coming. Just so, it is a turning of the season for The Brick Presbyterian Church in this time of transition. January and February have provided time for reflection and writing among the Mission Review Team. They are still working diligently to put into words, graphs, and charts all that we heard and learned this past fall through Town Hall gatherings, interviews with staff, committees, and groups within the church, and from interviews with “outside constituents,” too. We have been reminded of the benefits reaped by engaging in an intentional review of the church’s ministry and mission. We can see the importance of future strategic planning as you and your next Senior Minister identify priorities and set goals for the next era of your life together.
The Mission Review Report: The Mission Review Team will present highlights of the Review to the Session at its February meeting. The full Mission Review Report is scheduled to be sent to the Session for discussion and approval at its March 13 meeting. Also at the March meeting of Session, our Presbytery-appointed liaison from the Committee on Ministry will address the Session. We are delighted that our liaison is Elder Sharon Davidson from our neighbor church, Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church. Sharon served as the liaison for the Transitional Search Committee and will continue in her role, assisting the Pastoral Nominating Committee upon their election. Once the Mission Review is approved by our Session, it will go to the Presbytery Committee on Ministry for approval in April. When approved by both bodies, the congregation is free to elect the Pastor Nominating Committee.
Will We Get to Read the Mission Review Report? Yes! The Mission Review Team looks forward to sharing the full report with the congregation. Copies will be available and we will also hold several opportunities to gather for conversation as well.
The Pastor Nominating Committee: In the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a committee “representative of the congregation” is elected by the congregation and charged with the responsibility of searching for your next Senior Minister. Currently, the All Church Nominating Committee is receiving your nominations for persons to serve on the PNC as well as for members to serve on the Session, Board of Deacons, and as Trustees. While much attention is focused on the Pastor Nominating Committee (and understandably so), the officers you elect this year and next will be those working closely with your next Senior Minister in his or her first years with you. Please prayerfully consider serving and/or nominating others.
Timeline for Election of PNC, Elders, Deacons, and Trustees: If all of the steps above go as planned, the congregation will elect its PNC and officers at the Annual Meeting of the Congregation to be held immediately following worship on Sunday, April 28, 2019.
Spring is a glorious time of year! It is not mere coincidence, but is also theologically significant, that only one week after we celebrate Easter, we will also joyfully elect a PNC and officers to lead the church forward. The PNC will begin its work in the season of resurrection and new life.
Grace and Peace,
December 2018 Update
Advent is the season of waiting and preparation for the coming of the Messiah—not just at Christmas, but also at the end of time.
We do a lot of waiting—and New Yorkers impatient at waiting do a lot of honking! As late as 1775, the most exhaustive English dictionary contained no word to describe the act of waiting in line (what the British call a “queue,” for instance). Today, waiting in line is a given. An IBM study on “Smarter Buildings” tallied the cumulative time that office workers spent waiting for elevators during the past 12 months. New York City topped the list (16.6 years), followed by Los Angeles (8.7 years), Chicago (9 years) and Houston (6.8) years! In the post-World War II boom of workers and high rises came the idea to place mirrors at elevators to distract us from waiting. The Houston airport received so many complaints about the long wait at baggage claim, they hired more workers and reduced the wait time, but the complaints continued. They discovered it took only 1 minute to walk from the arrival gate to baggage claim, but took 7 minutes for the luggage to arrive. Their solution? They moved the baggage claim farther away! The complaints stopped. People were walking, not waiting. Researchers note:
- Occupied time feels shorter than unoccupied time.
- Waiting alone feels longer than waiting in a group.
- Uncertainty about when the line will end and/or perceiving the line as unfair affects your experience of waiting.
- Waiting is worse when there is some anxiety involved.
The Brick Church is in a season of waiting. We are occupied with important matters: the Mission Review; attending to stewardship, budget, and staffing needs; and reviewing our church rolls for accuracy. In this waiting, we are not alone—God is with us, and we have one another. Though waiting inevitably involves some uncertainty or anxiety, in early 2019 the Mission Review will be completed. The ACNC will seek nominations for the Pastor Nominating Committee and for new officers, too, who will work with the new Senior Minister as a new chapter for Brick begins.
In the meantime, the church continues to thrive. In 2018, we named a new Beadle, a new Clerk of Session, and elected the next Director of the Brick Church School. We received 75 new members—49 through New Member classes and 26 through Confirmation. We celebrated 33 baptisms and 8 weddings. And our police precinct estimates this year’s Park Avenue Tree Lighting ceremony was one of the largest ever with over 5,000 people in attendance despite the rain!
In a sense, the church has always been waiting. First Thessalonians, the earliest letter in the New Testament, begins with Paul encouraging them thusly: For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has become known… For the people report…how you turned to God…to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus…(1:8-1).
A blessed Advent and Christmas to all,
November 16 2018 Update
November is indeed the month of Thanksgiving and there is so much for which we may be grateful—the colors of fall that came a bit later this year, but came nonetheless; warm homes on a cold day or night; the love of family and friends; meaningful work to do and times for rest and joyful distractions, too. I wish for all of you a Happy Thanksgiving next week.
November is also a month of continuing transitions here at the church. Some of the transitions underway are welcome great news. After Lydia Spinelli announced her retirement last May as the Director of the Brick Church School, a Nominating Committee was appointed to identify a new Director who would start immediately following Lydia’s tenure at the end of June 2019. After months of a careful and thorough search process, the Nominating Committee, composed of both Session members and Day School Board members, enthusiastically recommended that Amy Warden be named the next Director of the Brick Church School. Their recommendation went to the Church Session and to the School’s Board, with both bodies unanimously supporting the Committee’s recommendation. When the faculty and staff of the school were given the good news, they jumped to their feet with a standing ovation and cheers! The church staff soon followed suit upon hearing the news. Amy has served as the Assistant Director of the Brick Church School for five years. She is known and respected by current and former parents, by school and church staff, and by community leaders as well. We are excited that she and Lydia now have these months ahead for smooth transition as we celebrate Lydia’s amazing leadership and dedication for three and a half decades—and we await with joy a new era of leadership with Amy Warden’s vision. The dynamic and healthy relationship between the church and school continues.
The Women’s Association 75th Christmas Fair was a rousing success and all went smoothly thanks to the Fair Chairs, the Women’s Association Board and Shannon Froehlich’s steady, accomplished, and cheerful leadership as the WA Interim Coordinator in their own season of transition. The Mission Review Team continues its important work of listening and interviewing and reflecting on your comments and suggestions.
A more difficult, less welcome transition has also taken place in the staff of the church. This month three positions were eliminated due to significant budget constraints. Elders and Trustees have been grappling with a budget shortfall for several years and together we are committed to making appropriate course corrections. After reviewing all staff positions, it was clear some restructuring needed to be addressed. It was a hard day indeed when Gloria Perez, Lena Tharp, and Rob Dayboch learned that their positions would be eliminated. They have been valued members of the staff and the restructuring was not a reflection on their work, but due to budget realities. It is very appropriate for members who knew these staff members to have strong feelings about their departure and you are welcome to speak with me about your thoughts and concerns. The church sought to honor their lengths of service here and to be as compassionate as possible under difficult circumstances. There are ongoing efforts to address the budget needs before us. The Stewardship Committee is to be commended for their dedication and vision.
While transitions are sometimes hard, even painful, they are meant to increase the long-term health and support the long-term vision of the church. I am grateful to all of you for your ongoing commitment to the Brick Church and, with you, the pastors and staff look forward to moving into 2019 with a renewed vision borne of our Mission Review, a healthier budget due to your faithful stewardship and careful oversight by church officers and committees, and the excitement of electing a Pastor Nominating Committee to search for the 14th Senior Minister of the Brick Presbyterian Church. This is a remarkable community of faith with a bright future. I am excited to see how God’s Spirit will lead us forward into all that is to come.
May this Thanksgiving be a time of reflecting on the goodness and bounty of God in our homes and in our nation,
November 1 2018 Update
Fall is moving quickly toward winter as we begin November, and everything is in high gear here at The Brick Church. Our Mission Review got underway with two Town Hall meetings on Oct. 14 and 24. Many members of the congregation, including children and youth, were in attendance with spirited conversations taking place around tables in Watson Hall during the first meeting as well as during the second meeting in the Carnegie Room. People offered input to questions about what they find most important about the Brick Church, what makes
them want to attend here, and even what might make them—or others—stay away. Everyone had the opportunity to express general ideas and opinions about areas of the church’s mission, worship, and programmatic life as well. A congregational survey will be made available soon. This will be an extensive online survey and you will need about 35-45 minutes to complete it, so only begin when you have the time
to fully finish. This survey has been designed by a company especially for congregations in transition, with our Mission Review Team customizing some questions for our particular context. The company will receive all the input directly and then provide an extensive report on the findings. In order for this survey to be as helpful as possible, we ask that every member set aside a dedicated 35-45 minutes to complete it within a four-week timeframe. In addition to the Town Hall meetings and the online survey, the Mission Team will be interviewing a number of committees and groups within the church and some outside constituents as well. We are eager to hear from our own members and to learn more about ourselves through the eyes of others. In addition to all of these ways to participate in the review of the church, the Mission Review Team has set up an email address so that you can email them directly with questions and comments this fall. That email address is: email@example.com. During this time of transition, it is exciting to see how strong the Brick Presbyterian Church remains—we celebrated the sacrament of baptism for 6 infants and young children on Sunday, Oct. 14, and have been holding New Member classes with 15-18 people in attendance! We turn next to the Stewardship season and hope to maintain the strong percentage of our members who make a financial pledge or gift to the church in addition to the other ways you offer your time and talent in our life together. As the fall season deepens, much is receding as leaves begin to dry and fall in advance of winter’s cold. In such a time as this, it is indeed a source of joy that within our congregation there is ample evidence of fullness of life and energy as we review and look ahead.
Grace and Peace,
October 2018 Update
October is halfway over and everything is in high gear here. Our Mission Review got underway with the first of two Town Hall meetings on Oct. 14. About 100 people, including children and youth, were in attendance with spirited conversations taking place around tables in Watson Hall. People offered input to questions about what they find most important about the Brick Church, what makes them want to attend here, and even what might make them—or others—stay away. Everyone had the opportunity to express general ideas and opinions about areas of the church’s mission, worship, and programmatic life as well. The second Town Hall Meeting will be held on Oct. 24 in the Carnegie Room at 6:30 p.m., and you can R.S.V.P. here if you would like to attend. Join us!
A congregational survey will be made available soon. This will be an extensive online survey and you will need between 35 and 45 minutes to complete it, so only begin when you have the time to fully finish. This survey has been designed by a company especially for congregations in transition, with our Mission Review Team customizing some questions for our particular context. The company will receive all the input directly and then provide an extensive report on the findings. In order for this survey to be as helpful as possible, we ask that every member set aside a dedicated 35 to 45 minutes and complete it within a 4-week timeframe.
In addition to the Town Hall meetings and the online survey, the Mission Team will be interviewing a number of committees and groups within the church and some outside constituents as well. We are eager to hear from our own members and to learn more about ourselves through the eyes of others. In addition to all of these ways to participate in the review of the church, the Mission Review Team has set up an email address so that you can email them directly with questions and comments this fall. That email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
During this time of transition, it is exciting to see how strong The Brick Presbyterian Church remains—we celebrated the sacrament of baptism for 6 infants and young children last Sunday and have been holding New Member classes this month with 15-18 people in attendance! We turn next to the Stewardship season and hope to maintain the strong percentage of our members who make a financial pledge or gift to the church in addition to the other ways you offer your time and talent in our life together.
As the fall season deepens, much is receding as leaves begin to dry and fall in advance of winter’s cold. In such a time as this, it is indeed a source of joy that within our congregation there is ample evidence of fullness of life and energy as we review and look ahead.
Grace and Peace,
If you have any questions, you can email the Mission Review Team at email@example.com.
September 2018 Update
There are hints of fall in the air and in the leaves, but fall is upon us fully in the life of the church. Worship returns to full strength; education, mission, and fellowship programs resume; and this week the Day School opened with the addition of a new classroom full of two-year-olds! There were many happy children and parents coming back—with many others coming to The Brick Church and School for the very first time.
Sunday September 16th, the 92nd Street door re-opens, though some finishing work will continue. Your generous contributions to the Capital Campaign have made possible this significant work. It is easy to think of construction projects as mere “building improvements,” but this effort is much more and much deeper than that. Your financial gifts have certainly made our spaces more attractive and safe, but the true goal has always been about more than stewardship of the facilities entrusted to us. The refurbishment of these areas fosters a greater sense of community. There is more space to gather for fellowship and play, to sit alone in thought and prayer, or to sit with friends for conversation. Our connection to one another and our shared life with God are the true measure of what makes us “the church.”
As the fall program gets underway, many of you have questions about the transitional process to call a new Senior Minister. Here is an overview of the tasks and timeline ahead:
- The Mission Review Team was commissioned in worship on September 23rd.
- Susan Appleby, Susan Austin, Sarah Blais, Mark Brickell, Anna Caspersen, Buddy Crutchfield, Helen Elmiger, Mark Greenwood, Mimi Hah, Daniel Hoy, Peter Manning, Chris Mason, Kim Purvis, Peggy Raub, Dru Richards, David Rose, Mario Verdolini
- They begin their work by hosting two Town Hall Meetings as the first opportunity for “a big picture view,” hearing your initial questions and suggestions regarding the life and mission of The Brick Church. Please choose one of these two Town Halls to attend: Sunday, October 14th in Watson Hall following worship or Wednesday, October 24th following the 6:00 p.m. Communion Service. Come from 6:30-8:00 p.m. to the Carnegie Room on the 3rd floor of the Parish House.
- After the Town Hall Meetings, there will be additional ways for you to offer insights, ideas, and suggestions about priorities for the church in the coming years. An electronic survey, small group opportunities for conversations, and an email “suggestion box” are a few of the early plans underway. The Mission Review Team will meet with various groups as well. Their work of listening, analyzing data and feedback, and interviewing groups will take us into early December.
- Early in 2019, the Mission Review Team prepares a report for the Session, perhaps by its February Stated Meeting. This report, if approved by the Session, will then go to the Presbytery of New York City to certify we have conducted the Mission Review. The PNC cannot be elected until the Mission Review is completed.
- The All Church Nominating Committee is charged with assembling names for a Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC). The PNC must be elected a vote of the congregation. March of 2019 will be the earliest date by which this phase can be completed.
- Once elected, the Pastor Nominating Committee composes a denominational Ministry Information Form (MIF) to advertise the position. The Presbytery will approve the MIF. After such approval, the formal search for the new Senior Minister of The Brick Presbyterian Church gets underway!
Though the Presbyterian process is not swift, it seeks to ensure that procedures are done “decently and in order.” I continue to be grateful for your generosity of spirit toward me. The church will depend on your continued generosity so that we begin this important search process not only with buildings in healthy shape, but with budget and programs in good health as well.
Message from the Transitional Senior Minister
By Rev. Kimberly Clayton
I began as your Transitional Senior Minister on March 15, 2018. After four months at The Brick Presbyterian Church I am glad to report that I have ‘learned my way around’—no small task given our summer construction projects! Perhaps the construction upheaval is an apt metaphor for us in this time of transition. When a church goes through a major transition, like the departure of a long-term Senior Minister, some familiar paths and routines are altered in ways both slight and significant. While much about the church goes on as usual, with familiar people—pastors, staff, and members—continuing in their areas of service, there is someone new as well—a Transitional Senior Pastor. This person is doing many of the same things the last Senior Minister did—but she does some of it differently. No matter how much remains the same, things can ‘feel’ different and it can even seem like everything is changing. Some people adapt to change easily, even welcome it, but many find change uncomfortable, producing feelings of anxiety. I admit that a few times this summer, with the construction dust and noise, the labyrinthine route to get from here to there, and one more glitch in how things are supposed to work, I have wished nostalgically that it could all go back to the way it was…four months ago! So I do understand to some degree that this transitional time can seem overwhelming to you as a congregation. Change is hard. A level of anxiety is normal. But to extend the metaphor a bit further—think of what all of this construction is leading toward: an enhanced entrance for the church and school to meet current and future needs; a beautifully renovated garden space that honors the past while incorporating updated structures and systems that will carry us into the future. In the same way, this transitional time is leading toward the welcome of your new Senior Minister: The person who will join the other pastors, staff, and members in leading this historic church, with its vibrant current ministries, faithfully and creatively into the future.
In preparation of the search for the new Senior Minister, we will engage in a congregation-wide Mission Review this fall. This is an opportunity for every member to offer input on current strengths of The Brick Church, challenges and changes you see ahead, assessment of ministries and mission we currently undertake and priorities going forward, and the qualities and characteristics desired in your next Senior Minister/Head of Staff.
To organize this important undertaking, a Mission Review Team has been appointed. The 18 people listed below have agreed to give their energy and imagination and intelligence to this task. They are motivated by a love for this congregation. There are 9 men and 9 women and they represent a variety of lengths of membership and avenues of engagement in the life of the church. They are reading a variety of things this summer in preparation. In October, they will help lead this Mission Review and involve, we hope, all of the members.
I invite you to pray for the Mission Review Team, the church staff, and our congregation as together we enter this intentional time to reflect on who we have been, are now, and the ways God might be calling us into the future. If you have questions or concerns in this time of transition, I will welcome an opportunity to speak with you or you can email the Mission Review Team here.
Thank you for your warm welcome in our first months together.
Grace and peace,
Calling a Permanent Senior Minister
The process to call a permanent Senior Minister begins once the outgoing Senior Minister has left and the Transitional Pastor has been appointed. This formal process is clearly outlined in our Book of Order. Initially, a Mission Review Committee will be appointed by Session. This committee will engage in a spiritual discernment process to discover the direction in which God is leading our congregation. This will entail an in-depth, honest, and thoughtful look at our congregation and community to reconfirm our leadership needs and our call to ministry.
Upon completion of the mission review, and with the approval of Presbytery, the Session will recommend a Pastor Nomination Committee (PNC) be formed. The All Church Nominating Committee (ACNC) will solicit recommendations from the congregation, a slate will be selected by the ACNC and approved by the congregation through a vote at a congregational meeting. In the PC(USA), the congregation gives authority to search for a pastor to the PNC; once the PNC has been elected, neither the session nor the congregation have a role in determining the permanent pastor until the PNC is ready to present its nominee to the congregation for a vote.
Importantly, it should be noted that this process does not impact or alter the roles of our Senior Associate Minister, the Reverend Douglas T King, or our Associate Minister, the Reverend Adam L Gorman. Each was called individually by our congregation and their relationships with the Brick Church are separate and distinct.
The process of calling a Senior Pastor is a lengthy one with many steps along the way designed to assist a congregation in deciphering who God is calling to be pastor in the next chapter of our congregation’s life and ministry. We are very blessed to be in the hands of our Transitional Pastor, the Reverend Dr. Kimberly Clayton, during this time.