August 13 Inspiration

From the Desk of Pastor John Hart

Dear friends,

We will greatly miss you and all things Liberty. There is nowhere else like Liberty! After an “extended-delayed retirement”, Becky’s and my last Sunday will be August 23.

A long time ago (in COVID years!)—back in February—we walked you through the slide at the bottom of this letter. It lays out the three stages of transition between now and when Liberty’s new permanent pastor arrives.  Let me review it again.

The first stage is the shortest. Rev. Don Hilkerbaumer will be Liberty’s Bridge Pastor from August 24 until sometime (most likely) in October. Many of you remember Don when he was Liberty’s “Interim Pastor of Visitation” in 2014-2015. Don is a retired Presbyterian minister, having served many years as pastor at the Plain City Presbyterian Church, and as a Bridge Pastor at several local churches. Don will be working part-time, focusing on online worship, supervising the staff, moderating Session, and providing pastoral care. You will enjoy his ministry!

The second stage will last from 1 to 1.5 years – the “Transitional Pastor”. Your Transitional Pastor Search Committee (Heather Burger, Jeremy Carpenter, Bridget Kaltenmark, Linda Kemp, Carlos Lima, and Jim Mohr) are hard at work, sifting through résumés, checking out online sermons, setting up interviews, and checking references. It is hoped the Transitional Pastor will arrive sometime in October. He or she will work full-time, doing much the same work Becky and I do. In addition to serving as Liberty’s pastor, the Transitional Pastor has the special task of experimenting — not making major changes but trying out new ways of doing things for Liberty. An early focus of the Transitional Pastor will be working with Session to run an all-church “mission study” — a multi-pronged process to help Liberty clarify where it’s been, where it is now, and where it believes God is calling it to go in the future.

The final stage is the search for and arrival of your new pastor. Most likely in early 2021, the church Nominating Committee will nominate a “Pastor Nominating Committee” (PNC) to be elected by the congregation, comprised of 9-12 members who will be charged with finding Liberty’s new pastor. Once the PNC is elected and completes the necessary forms and job description, they will read through applications, do research online, set up interviews, check references, and bring 2-3 finalists to Liberty for a final evaluation. This culminates when the nominee will preach at Liberty, followed by a congregational meeting to extend him or her a call. It’s hard to know how long this will take, especially given the changes wrought by COVID, but somewhere between November 2021 and March 2022 should see Liberty’s new pastor arriving.

Liberty is entering a time of transition, which means a time of change. None of us are crazy about change! But always remember we serve a living Lord, who is even now actively leading Liberty into His future for us. So, when you find this transition to be a bit trying, remember this Gospel truth: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

Serving Jesus with you,