From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Advisory Group For New Call System Outlines Plans

Date 04 May 1996 20:53:44


96004   Advisory Group For New Call System Outlines Plans  
                 For Further Testing, Refinement 
                      by Jerry L. Van Marter 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--An eight-member advisory group that has been charged to 
continue the testing and refinement of the Presbyterian Church's new 
proposed call system has outlined a two-year plan that will involve testing 
the entire system -- rather than just pieces of it -- as part of existing 
"face-to-face" events in presbyteries and synods. 
     The new plan is a departure from the initial testing of the new 
system, which involved different presbyteries testing different individual 
components of the new system.  "This testing of the whole system is the 
most significant decision the advisory group made at its first meeting," 
said Jinny Miller of Mishawaka, Ind., chair of the group.  "That and the 
decision to use face-to-face events as the primary venues for the testing." 
     The new system for matching church professionals with churches and 
other employing church agencies seeking staff has been in development for 
more than six years.  Brought to the 1995 General Assembly (held in 
Cincinnati) for approval, it was instead referred back to the Churchwide 
Partnerships Work Area of the National Ministries Division for two more 
years of "field testing and refinement." 
     The advisory group held its first meeting here in early December. 
     Earlier this fall, Miller told the Presbyterian News Service, she and 
Margy Brown, associate for churchwide personnel services, met with members 
of the Association of Executive Presbyters at their annual meeting in 
Kansas City.  It was presbytery executives who expressed the most 
reservations about the new system, leading to the delay in its approval in 
     Miller said she "didn't sense a lot of negativity" from the presbytery 
executives.  "I felt they were receptive to change and appreciative of the 
chance to continue to dialogue about this new system," she said.  Miller 
said the decision to test the whole system, rather than testing it piece by 
piece, resulted from those conversations. 
     Other aspects of the system that will be scrutinized by the advisory 
group are 
     * elements of the system that address interim pastors 
     * the Personal Information Form (PIF) -- "We all agree this needs to 
be revised, with the whole issue of leadership styles further refined," 
Miller explained. 
     * the fee structure for the new system, which currently includes set 
fees for various services within the system -- "We may move to a free basic 
service with fees for optional services," Miller said. 
     * the Leadership Effectiveness Assessment (LEA), the primary 
questionnaire for measuring the leadership styles of church professionals 
-- "The LEA continues to raise a lot of questions," Brown said. 
     Also, Miller added, the advisory group will focus on "the major task 
out of the General Assembly's action of developing a stronger theological 
context for the whole system."  Brown agreed. "We'll be very intentional 
about looking closer at that." 
     The advisory group also enlisted the Research Services office of the 
Congregational Ministries Division to help.  "An important part of the 
testing will be ongoing research in support of each refinement," Miller 
     The researchers will develop feedback instruments to evaluate the 
field testing of each of the 18 elements in the new system.  For example, 
Miller said, members of Pastor Nominating Committees that use the new 
system and individuals who take the LEA in order to establish baseline 
measurements will be surveyed to assess their reactions to refinements in 
those two components of the system. 
     One innovation in the advisory group's process is the addition of a 
"responding group," which is charged to "listen to and dialogue with 
governing body staff and elected members and to bring these concerns to the 
advisory group."   
     Advisory group member the Rev. Jill Hudson of Indianapolis 
characterized the responding group as "a dispersed focus group."  Brown 
said, "We want them to be our ears out in the church to help us listen and 
learn more." 
     The Rev. Jeffrey Kisner, an advisory group member from Waynesburg, 
Pa., said, "I am hopeful that we can address the variety of concerns raised 
by various constituencies and produce a new system that will meet the needs 
of our denomination." 
     The advisory group next meets March 11-13 in Louisville. 
     Advisory group members are Miller; Hudson; Kisner; the Rev. Ella Busby 
of Florence, S.C.; the Rev. Thomas E. Fisher of Athens, Ohio; the Rev. 
Robert D. Holloway, Jr., of Fort Mill, S.C.; the Rev.  Martha Miller of 
Waterford, Va.; and Jack Plattner of Cincinnati. 
     Responding group members are the Rev. Edwin W. Albright, Jr., of 
Jacksonville, Fla.; the Rev.  Eleanor Cherryholmes of Austin, Texas; the 
Rev. Diana Erickson of Solon, Ohio; the Rev. Gustav C.  Nelson of Des 
Moines, Iowa; Barbara Campbell Davis of Rocky Mount, N.C.; the Rev. William 
S.  Foster, Jr., of Casper, Wyo.; Shirley Hercher of Portland, Ore.; and 
the Rev. Wayne Yost of Yatesboro, Pa. 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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