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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 complementary gifts.
- Why is this the best course of action for Trinity Presbyterian Church?
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 Mary retires?
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 relationship?
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 Presbyterian polity?
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 and voting.
- 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 youth?
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 principles).
At the Congregational meeting on October 7, 2018, the members of Trinity voted to move forward with the co-pastor model. Committee on Ministry (COM) also voted to move forward with the co-pastor model.
The next step is the vote at the next Presbytery meeting on November 13 for the final vote.