‘Face-to-Face’ event matches employers, call-seekers
August 25, 2017
While more than 600 Presbyterians gathered July 6–8 for worship, fellowship and topical workshops at Big Tent, 27 others attended for a different purpose: to find their next call to ministry in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
“Face-to-Face” – sponsored by the Church Leadership Connection (CLC) in the Office of the General Assembly (OGA) – periodically brings together Presbyterian ministers (and candidates) seeking jobs at churches and other PC(USA)-related institutions.
“It’s almost like Presbyterian speed-dating,” said SanDawna Ashley, manager for call process support and teaching elder ministries in OGA. “This is an opportunity to go beyond PIFs (Personal Information Forms) and MIFs (Ministry Information Forms) and match faces and personalities with names.”
In a perfect world, all 27 call-seekers would have been employed by the time Big Tent concluded on July 8, as there were also 27 calling organizations represented at Face-to-Face. But, of course, that’s not the way the PC(USA)’s call system works.
“This is an introductory part of the call process,” Ashley explained. “There’s no guarantee of interviews, but we know that this way of getting call-seekers and prospective employers together works. They come, engage in orientation to the process and then start circulating, participating in interviews as the spirit mutually moves them.”
The Rev. Brian Merritt, a pastor from Chattanooga, Tennessee, loved his first experience with the Face-to-Face model. Merritt attended after concluding a five-year call as an evangelist with a new worshiping community called the Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center.
“I’ve had a long, circuitous route around the PC(USA),” he said. “I wanted to get back to a more structured situation after several years kind of out there on my own. A Face-to-Face was recommended to me by several people, and it was great!”
Merritt added quickly, “I generally have a pretty good time at these things, but, then, I’m a Presbyterian dork — I like just showing up and talking to people.”
Joy Ridge came to Face-to-Face a little differently. A candidate under care of Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery, she is unemployed “and really looking.” The 2016 Eden Theological Seminary graduate worked part-time in a church and completed a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) residence in May.
Face-to-Face provided her with “one interview in the morning and another one in the afternoon,” she said, adding that the event “is a really good idea — an orderly, Presbyterian way of doing things.”
Ashley said that CLC has added educational components to Face-to-Face events in recent years, including PIF and MIF training and feedback as well as training for Pastor Nominating Committees. “We want to provide help and resources to all parties in the call process,” she said.
Ridge, for one, is very appreciative. “The PIF review and feedback is a great service,” she said. “I think my PIF is OK, I guess, but other perspectives are great knowing what works and what doesn’t.”
All agree that Face-to-Face events are a valuable way of moving beyond forms to real relationships. “It’s just nutty,” Ridge said, “that people can turn you down based solely on a piece of paper.”
Jerry Van Marter, Office of the General Assembly Communications
Today’s Focus: Church Leadership Connection (CLC) at Big Tent
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
Lord, thank you for opportunities to help others wherever they are. Let us not turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to needs around us but simply do acts of kindness and compassion in your name. Amen.