April 9th – Meet & Greet

Today was the first opportunity for our congregation to meet our new Pastor! Bethany & Matthew chatted with several folks that attended the Meet & Greet held this afternoon.
Don’t forget that she will start worshipping with us at 11:00 AM on Sunday, April 24th. Following that service, the Presbytery of St. Augustine will ordain her in a special service at 3:00 PM that same afternoon with a reception to follow. Here’s a picture of Bethany and her husband Matthew taken in our Sanctuary.

February 27 Update

With a sense of joy we announce that the Search Committee has successfully concluded their task and the Session has approved the contract for Bethany Benz-Whittington to serve as our Stated Supply Pastor pending the successful completion of examination and approval by the St. Augustine Presbytery.  Bethany is a 2015 graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA. While at CTS, she met her husband, Matthew Benz-Whittington, and the two married in April of 2015.

Before describing Bethany further, here is a little recap on the search leading up to this announcement. The Search Committee was appointed by the Session on September 22, 2014 and immediately began weekly meetings to create our MIF. The MIF went live on the internet on November 24, 2014 giving our position world-wide access. The response was wide and diverse (46 total potentials), so we had plenty of excellent choices for review. The applications came from as far away as Hong Kong and included states like CA, NY, NJ, SD, MT, IL, KY, KS, VA, SC and GA. Twelve were from Florida. With each step in our process we continued to listen to where we felt that God was leading us and we have no doubt that we have found the perfect person for our congregation.

Bethany was raised in Fayetteville, GA, just south of Atlanta, and grew up attending the Fayette Presbyterian Church, and then Central Presbyterian Church in downtown Atlanta. During her time at Central, she played in three different handbell choirs, sang in the Chancel Choir, served on the Commitment Committee, the Community Ministry Committee, the session and as a youth advisor for three years. In addition, she has served as a Youth Advisory Delegate to the General Assembly, which instilled in her a love of the larger church and a deep commitment to the PC(USA).

Before going to seminary, Bethany studied history at The University of Tennessee, and then returned to Atlanta to work in property management. During that time, she spent much of her free time either with her book club or her softball team, and hopes to find both of those things in Jacksonville as well.

During seminary, Bethany played Ultimate as both her sabbath and her time to connect with classmates. She developed a love of music as theology, and learned that teaching is an art form she hopes to continually improve at. She felt God moving her toward small church ministry that focuses on mission, and is thrilled to have been led to Peace. She is very excited to join the Peace family, and, along with Matthew, make it her family.

A couple of reference comments are provided below:

Bethany cares passionately about the Presbyterian Church (USA) and is deeply committed to working in and with it. Her strengths are especially evident in matters of outreach and social concern, including those having to do with environmental issues.

Bethany is an enthusiastic and passionate member of the PCUSA. I believe her decision to respond to her call after several years in another profession, and her commitment to learning, listening and responding to God’s call on her life has provided a foundation that allows her to bring authenticity and energy to her role.

There is so much more to share about Rev. Benz-Whittington so there will be an opportunity for the congregation to meet both Bethany & Matthew at a Meet & Greet on Saturday, April 9th from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM.

In addition, please make every effort to be with us for Bethany’s first sermon at Peace during the 11:00 AM worship service on Sunday, April 24th. Following that service, Bethany will be ordained and installed in a special service at 3:00 PM that same afternoon with a reception to follow.

The Search Committee express deep appreciation and gratitude for the patience and support of the congregation during the search process. We would also like to especially thank Guy and our entire session for their extraordinary ministerial leadership in guiding the church during this transition.

We can already feel the beginning of a new day at Peace Presbyterian!


October 29 Update

The SC continues its work and meets each week.  We have scheduled a select number of candidates to interview through SKYPE or FACETIME and are encouraged by the progress we are making.  To date we have reviewed a total of 44 PIFs from 21 men and 23 women.  We are grateful for your continued prayers, patience and support.

July 1 Update

Pray for Search Committee – The Search Committee asks for prayers from the congregation as the search process continues.
– Pray for their discernment, wisdom, patience for God’s timing, confidentiality, and perseverance.
– Pray for the next pastor, whom God has prepared for Peace Church, for preparation in current ministry and prayerful following of God’s lead.
– Pray for continued commitment from the congregation to prayer, attendance, ministry engagement and financial support.
– Pray that God continues to bless Peace Church and the efforts of the search committee and trust that God is working through this process.

April 27 Update

The SC was appointed by the Session on September 22, 2014 and immediately began working to create our MIF.  The MIF went live on the internet on November 24, 2014.  We are just shy of six months of reviewing PIFs and have reviewed 32 PIFs to date.  We continue to meet each week and are committed to  doing our very best to accomplish the huge task that has been entrusted to us.  Each of us believe that the Spirit is leading us through this time and guiding us to the person who God is selecting to be our next pastor.  We humbly ask for your prayers and patience. 

January 26 Update

We continue our search process and so far we have garnered 17 PIFs which we have thoroughly researched.  We have listened to numerous sermons and taken advantage of the Internet to gain a wealth of knowledge about our potential candidates.  We even managed to sneak in some road trips to experience worship with a couple of candidates.  We are deeply honored to serve on this committee and are committed to doing our very best to accomplish the huge task that has been entrusted to us.  Each of us believe that the Spirit is leading us through this time and guiding us to the person who God is selecting to be our next pastor.  We appreciate your patience with us and humbly ask for your prayers.

November 24 Update

Good News for our Search Process…our MIF has been approved by Session and COM, all sign-offs have been received, and as of November 24th, the MIF went live on the PC(USA) website. This means that the SC is now moving to its next phase of activity and discernment. We have already received several Personal Information Forms (“PIFs”). We also expect many more PIFs to come our way. The PIF is THE place where a pastor enters our search. If you know of someone you’d like to become a candidate, please encourage them to send us their PIF through the PC(USA)’s Church Leadership Connection website at http://oga.pcusa.org/section/mid-council-ministries/clc/

We will meet every week and begin each meeting with a devotional and prayer. Each SC member will read every PIF.  We continue to be thankful for our congregation and for Christ’s work among us.

October 30 Update

Many thanks to our congregation for its prayers and participation over the past 2 months! In September, we held three congregational chat session as well as received input from many informal conversations.   A total of 21 people from the congregation (including 5 non-member/regular attendees) participated in the meetings with session members present to observe each one.  There were also hand-written responses to the questions from those who were unable to attend a meeting.  The calculated response rate based on active members was 42% which is a number to be proud of.  In fact, the benchmark for church response to be considered as a success is between 22-23%.
The meetings were used to identify God-given spiritual gifts and leadership skills and abilities which were then used to help complete the  drafting of PPC’s MIF along with additional input from Session and from our COM liaison. All of these responses, inputs, and prayers were helpful.  We are proud to announce that the MIF has been approved by Session and  has been submitted to the COM for approval.  Once approved, it will be published to the CLC website. 

Note: See 9/29/14 blog posting for more information on the process of searching for a pastor in the PC(USA).

Alphabet Soup

Here is a list of acronyms that will help you to decipher some of the abbreviations used in this blog:
PPC – Peace Presbyterian Church
SC – Search Committee, the committee elected by the session to find a Pastor.
MIF – Ministry Information Form, the form which a church fills out during the search process which describes the position they are seeking to fill and the information necessary to help match potential candidates
PIF – Personal Information Form, the form which teaching elders and candidates fill out to share who they are and in what sorts of ministerial positions they would be willing to serve.
CLC – Church Leadership Connection, the form which a church fills out during the search process which describes the position they are seeking to fill and the information necessary to help match potential candidates
COM – Committee on Ministry, the Presbytery entity charged with the responsibility of helping churches find teaching elders and teaching elders find churches.
TE – Teaching Elder, formerly “minister” or “minister of the Word and Sacrament.”

Welcome to the Search Committee (SC) Update 

Peace Presbyterian Church (PPC) has begun its search for a new pastor. Recently a Search Committee (SC) was elected by the Session and they will begin weekly meetings in October. Look for updates on the SC’s status on this blog and during periodic Sunday worship service announcements.
For this first blog posting, we’ve included some Frequently Asked Questions:

1. How is the process for finding a pastor determined?
PPC is a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA), or PC(USA). Within the PC(USA), we are part of the regional group called St. Augustine Presbytery. St. Augustine Presbytery is a geographical area covering North Florida. To find a pastor, we follow the processes of the PC(USA) and St. Augustine Presbytery.

2. What are the steps in this process?
The process is one of prayerful mutual discernment between pastors, our church, and the presbytery, all seeking God’s will for PPC and depending on Christ as the head of the church.

We’ve already completed the initial steps. Session elected a Search Committee and has held recent congregational chat sessions to gather information. Already, and throughout the process, the SC will look to prayer, the Holy Spirit, and the Word for guidance and equipping to humbly serve our congregation and to glorify God in what we do and discern. Please join in continually praying for us, PPC, and our denomination’s pastors!

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