From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Advisory Group For New Call System Outlines Plans
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
* 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,"
* 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 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
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 PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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