From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Search Committee Nominates Cliff Kirkpatrick

Date 12 May 1996 20:18:49

May 9, 1996 
96172     Search Committee Nominates Cliff Kirkpatrick  
                         for Stated Clerk 
                      by Jerry L. Van Marter 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--The Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, director of the Worldwide 
Ministries Division here, has been unanimously nominated to be the next 
stated clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) by 
the Stated Clerk Review/Nomination Committee. 
     Kirkpatrick's nomination now goes to the upcoming 208th General 
Assembly as the choice of the committee.  Nominations from the floor are 
     "We want to communicate the enthusiasm with which we present this 
nomination," Brian D.  Ellison, chair of the search committee, told the 
Presbyterian News Service in a May 7 interview.  "Cliff has the respect of 
people in Louisville, outside of Louisville and around the world.  Anyone 
who knows Cliff knows his love for the church and his ability to serve it." 
     Ellison's endorsement of Kirkpatrick was echoed by the incumbent 
stated clerk, the Rev . James E. Andrews.  Andrews called Kirkpatrick, who 
he said he has known for more than 20 years, "an outstanding candidate." 
Andrews cited Kirkpatrick's "ecumenical experience, knowledge of the 
governing body system of the Presbyterian Church and proven administrative 
ability" as particular strengths he brings to the job. 
     The executive director of  the General Assembly Council, the Rev. 
James D. Brown, also had positive words to say about Kirkpatrick's 
leadership abililities.  "During my four years of working with Cliff as a 
colleague in ministry, I have come to know him as an outstanding leader in 
our denomination. His emphasis on the church as a missionary society is one 
that receives a positive response all across our church. 
     "Should it be the will of the Assembly to elect him as stated clerk," 
Brown said, "I believe he will serve our denomination well." 
     Kirkpatrick was ordained in 1968 by the Presbytery of Northeast Texas. 
He has led the worldwide mission enterprise of the Presbyterian Church for 
15 years, since before Presbyterian reunion in 1983.   
     He currently coordinates a staff of 80 in the Worldwide Ministries 
Division, as well as 450 mission personnel and 500 international mission 
volunteers.  Under his leadership, the division also oversees relationships 
with 84 partner churches overseas and 30 related mission groups and 
advisory committees.  The Worldwide Ministries Division budget is $40 
     Ellison described Kirkpatrick as having "a heart for mission, for 
taking the gospel to the ends of the world."  In a statement announcing its 
choice May 3, the search committee stated it "was particularly impressed 
with Kirkpatrick's theologically grounded vision for the church and his 
approach to leadership." 
     In a May 7 interview with the Presbyterian News Service, Kirkpatrick 
said, "My vision of the church has been shaped by the ecumenical movement 
and by a larger vision of the unity of the whole church."  Citing I 
Corinthians 12, he said, "The heart of that vision is a diversity that we 
need to celebrate and a unity in Christ that is mission-centered -- to 
share Christ with the world in ways that make the church a provisional 
demonstration of the realm of God." 
     Asked about his leadership style, Kirkpatrick reflected on a book he 
has just read: "Managers help organizations do their work well; leaders 
help organizations do the right thing."  He talked about "transforming 
leadership," in which the leaders and followers "discover a new sense of 
community in Christ."  Kirkpatrick stressed that "Presbyterian polity and 
order call forth that kind of leadership." 
     Kirkpatrick said that moving from the programmatic side of the 
church's work in Worldwide Ministries to the ecclesiastical emphasis of the 
Office of the General Assembly "will require that I let some things go, but 
I really see them both as advancing the mission of the church."  He said 
that the role of the stated clerk as a "relational officer" corresponds to 
the Presbyterian Church's "vision of mission as partnership, so if we order 
our life together rightly the mission of Jesus Christ is advanced." 
     Kirkpatrick praised some recommendations of the General Assembly's 
Committee on Review as contributing to healthier relationships.  "The new 
pattern for General Assembly meetings really excites me," he said, "with 
every other year being devoted to building community and creating vision -- 
I believe I can contribute significantly to that as clerk." 
     Kirkpatrick also supported the Review Committee's recommendations for 
strengthening the role of middle governing bodies in Assembly-level 
decision-making.  "I believe those moves bring fresh promise for how the 
church does its work." 
     "I'm excited about it [Kirkpatrick's nomination]," said Ellison. 
"Prayer has been central to our work as a committee and we believe God's 
will became clear to us when we voted to nominate Cliff." 
     Ellison said 42 potential applicants inquired about the stated clerk 
post.  Of those, 20 submitted completed applications.  They included 15 men 
and five women; 14 ministers and six elders; two racial- ethnic persons; 
and one person with a known disability. 

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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