Last Updated: March 25, 2018
- How did we get here? Why are we evaluating this?
The Co-Pastor model has been emerging in
the Presbyterian church over the past several years.
Pastor Mary has been interested in this
model and considered it an option for Trinity given our thriving
intergenerational community. When Pastor
Kurt joined Trinity over three years ago, it was quickly evident that his
connection with the congregation and gifts were much broader than his initial
call. Recognizing this, Pastor Mary started a conversation with our Personnel
Ministry Team (PMT) and Session to evaluate how to best leverage their
- Why is this the best course of action for Trinity
We see several reasons why this may be
the best model for Trinity. We believe this aligns with God’s ministry at
Trinity by visibly demonstrating intergenerational ministry at Trinity, as well
as allowing us to focus on fit and skills of individuals called to Trinity, now
and in the future, without being constrained by role definition.
We are blessed with two Pastors who have
complementary gifts and are naturally working beyond the bounds of their
traditional role descriptions. However, their mutual respect and collaboration
is still currently constrained by Associate and Senior role definition and
responsibilities. A Co-Pastor model provides Pastor Mary and Pastor Kurt with
the ability and freedom to invest time differently to serve the church. We want
to allow Pastor Mary to rethink how she spends her time, specifically on
pastoral care, memorials, and small group leadership, and we intend to continue
expanding Pastor Kurt’s leadership and involvement in Session leadership, worship
planning, preaching and Stewardship & Finance.
Additionally, by creating an equal
partnership and removing the historical hierarchy, we believe this could allow
for more and better ideas to foster innovation. By adapting to this innovative
model, we encourage a culture of progressive thinking, assurance that our staff
is committed to the needs of the church and a desire to have more attention
with precise focus on areas that need pastoral leadership.
- The traditional model of a Senior/Head of Staff Pastor
and an Associate Pastor seems to work. Why change now?
During Pastor Mary’s sabbatical in mid-2017, it was
demonstrated that Pastor Kurt had already
increased his responsibilities, influence and impact
broader than his initial call. It seemed timely to formally recognize these
increased leadership roles and allow for further changes to continue to develop
Pastor Kurt’s gifts for ministry here at Trinity.
- What happens if the congregation votes against the
Co-Pastor model in October?
Pastor Mary and Pastor Kurt are both
called to serve at Trinity and will continue to do so as Senior and Associate
Pastor. Perhaps some of their roles and responsibilities would shift but not as
significant as if they become Co-Pastors.
- Are Pastor Mary and Pastor Kurt supportive of this?
Yes, both Pastor Mary and Pastor Kurt
have been evaluating the best pastoral model for Trinity and have been
experimenting with redefining their roles and responsibilities to best meet the
needs of the congregation. They have individually and collectively committed to
evaluating a Co-Pastor relationship. You may have seen some of these changes.
For example, Pastor Kurt has been preaching more and Pastor Mary has been able
to get more involved in small group leadership, including developing the
curriculum for the Lenten series and leading a small group.
- Does this mean Pastor Mary is retiring soon?
No, Pastor Mary does not have a timeline
to retire. She is still enjoying ministry here and plans to continue as long as
she can fulfill her calling “with energy, imagination, intelligence, and
love”. Working with Pastor Kurt has
added a whole new level of enjoyment in her call.
- How does this impact the succession plan if Pastor Mary
or Pastor Kurt leaves/retires? Will Pastor Kurt be the Pastor if Pastor
That will be determined when the time
comes. Approving the Co-Pastor model is specific to the two individuals. If one
of the Co-Pastors leaves, Presbytery recommends doing a mission study at the
time of this transition, for the sake of determining the future direction of
the church. At that time, the church can decide what model is best going
forward. In a scenario where Pastor Mary retires, the church can look for
another Co-Pastor or decide if a Senior/Head of Staff Pastor and Associate
Pastor model is best. In this situation, Pastor Kurt can apply for the
Senior/Head of Staff Pastor position.
- What do I do if I have questions about the Co-Pastor
We encourage everyone to bring forward
their questions and feedback regarding this potential change before the
congregation votes in the fall (October 7). There will be a series of forums to
discuss, including a Town Hall on Sunday, April 15 following service and an
opportunity during the Great Getaway. Additionally, anyone on Session and the
Personnel Ministry Team, as well as Pastor Mary and Pastor Kurt, are available
for 1:1 conversations. Please see the “Overview” section to find contact
information for these individuals.
- What is the timeline to evaluate the Co-Pastor model?
We anticipate that the journey of
evaluating this together as a congregation will take place over the next six
months. You are
invited to engage in this exploration with us and are encouraged to participate
in any of the forums over the next few months. As we continue this conversation
and receive feedback, we are planning for a congregational vote on Sunday,
October 7. If the congregation approves the Co-Pastor model, we will seek
support from the Presbytery’s Committee on Ministry (COM) to take it forward
for a vote by Presbytery.
- What is Presbytery? COM? And what is the view of
Presbytery is the local governing body
of Presbyterian churches in the San Francisco Bay Area. Presbytery is made up
of ruling and teaching elders from these churches. Committee on Ministry (COM)
is a committee at the Presbytery level that helps and nurtures congregations.
With intention, our polity has created space for congregations and pastors in
healthy relationships to grow toward the future together with flexibility.
While seen as an exception to our traditional paths to leadership, there are
times when both installed pastors and temporary supply pastors experience a new
call from within the current congregation they serve. The relationship shall be
established by a three-fourths vote of the members of the presbytery present
- What is the anticipated impact to our budget?
If the Co-Pastor model is approved, the
impact to the budget will be recommended and reflected starting in 2019. The
thinking is that we would keep Pastor Mary’s compensation package consistent
with her current role as a Senior Pastor. As a Co-Pastor, Pastor Kurt’s
compensation package would increase to be comparable to Pastor Mary’s, while
also recognizing that they do offer differences in tenure at the church,
education, and overall experience in ministry. We estimate that in 2019, Pastor
Mary’s overall package would be approximately 10% higher than Pastor Kurt’s.
For 2018, you may notice a larger than
average increase for Pastor Kurt’s compensation. This has been recommended by
the Personnel Ministry Team in order to recognize the increased workload and responsibilities
that he is already doing and will continue to take on in 2018. He would have
received this raise even if we were not exploring a Co-Pastor model. We
anticipate that this workload and impact would remain in effect in subsequent
years even if the Co-Pastor model does not move forward.
- As Co-Pastor will Pastor Kurt continue to work with the
Yes Pastor Kurt will continue to work
with both the Middle School and High School students at Trinity. Part of the
reasoning for Pastor Kurt to become a Co-Pastor is to further the involvement
of youth in the whole life of the church (one of Sticky Faith’s main