From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Search Committee Nominates Cliff Kirkpatrick
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 PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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