Wednesday, April 24, 2019

April 2019 update

Dear Idlewild Congregation,

Your Pastor Nominating Committee continues to be optimistic in our search for a new Head of Staff for Idlewild. As we reported last month, we have been in conversation with prospective candidates and have made visits to some of them. Those visits have proven valuable and we expect to make others.

From the beginning of the search we were aware that the Idlewild staff could change as the Holy Spirit moves. All of us have seen these changes in the last month. But Idlewild Church is still here—in the Sunday morning congregations, in the Sunday School classes of adults and children, in the choirs, in those who offer hospitality at More Than A Meal, in QUEST and BASIC, in the youth who led the Youth Service so ably, in Presbyterian Women, in CAFÉ, in MICAH, in Clean Water projects, in our strong support and house staffs, in all of us who find ways to show that our worship leads to service. So as we continue our search, we are certain that the next Head of Staff will be coming to a strong and vibrant congregation.

At this time, as much as we would like to see into the future, we cannot say when a call will be made. Our focus remains on identifying the best candidate for Idlewild, regardless of timing. We will continue to give periodic updates to provide as much clarity as possible, trusting that we are following the lead of the Holy Spirit. As we move forward, we will keep in mind the advice from a seminary president that “you may not yet know the person God has prepared for Idlewild.” For your patient support we are very grateful. 

Please continue to pray for the search, for our faithful Idlewild staff, and for our church as we move forward together.

“Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serving the Lord.” Romans 12:11

In Christ,

The Idlewild PNC

Betty Louis Sheppard (chair), Jeanne Marie Cummings, Albert Johnson, Julie Markham, Cindy Moore, Mitchell Redd, Jeremy Sykes, and Jeff Thompson

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

March 2019 update

Dear Congregation,

Your Pastor Nominating Committee continues to be optimistic in our search for a new Head of Staff. We have heard many words of encouragement from around the PC(USA), such as “This is a sacred time for your congregation and your committee” and we are thankful for the loving support and sincere concern from all of you. Indeed, we are all in this search together.

As we reported in February, we have developed a short list of strong candidates. We are getting to know them by watching livestream services, listening to online sermons, reading their church websites, and looking at their writings as well as their work in their presbyteries and in the PC(USA). We have begun making visits to these selected candidates to get better acquainted in face-to-face meetings and to attend their church services. These visits will continue into April.

We celebrate Steve Montgomery, his faithful ministry to Idlewild and in Memphis, his guiding leadership in a time of shifting cultures, his loving care for our congregation, and his special tenderness in times of grief. We as the PNC are NOT in a search to replace Steve. Rather, we are charged to search for a new pastor to serve as Head of Staff with his or her own particular gifts. This person will bring new vision, new skills and talents, new leadership, but the same faithfulness to Christ and his call to love and serve God. We trust that we are following the leading of the Holy Spirit to the person that God has prepared for Idlewild.

We are hopeful that a new Head of Staff can be in place after a transition period following Steve’s retirement. The Administrative Leadership Team, chaired by Mitchell Redd, is working on the specifics of a transition plan. We plan to give another update at the April Session meeting and will provide as much additional clarity as possible at that time. We are grateful for your patience. We are at work and will continue to make regular reports.

Please continue to pray for the search and for our faithful Idlewild staff.

“Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serving the Lord.” Romans 12:11 

In Christ,

The Idlewild PNC

Betty Louis Sheppard (chair), Jeanne Marie Cummings, Albert Johnson, Julie Markham, Cindy Moore, Mitchell Redd, Jeremy Sykes, and Jeff Thompson

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Idlewild PNC update - February 2019

The PNC is optimistic about the search for a new Head of Staff. During our conversations with the exceptional women and men of the PC(USA), we have heard comments such as: “Idlewild is the conscience of Memphis” and “Idlewild is the tall-steeple church of the Mid-South.” We have been humbled and thrilled to discover the high regard for Idlewild found throughout the denomination.

Since posting our Ministry Information Form (MIF) in late September 2018, we have received referrals from members of the congregation, contacts throughout the PC(USA), other ministers, and matches with our MIF through the Church Leadership Connection system. In total, we have received referrals for over 100 potential candidates. Since about mid-October, we have been in contact with many of these candidates, have reviewed their Personal Information Forms (PIF), have listened to online sermons, and have conducted limited phone interviews.

Most candidates we’ve contacted were aware of Idlewild’s Head of Staff search and were honored to be contacted. After consideration and discussion, the PNC determined that some candidates were not a good fit for Idlewild while others advised us that they were unable to consider a move at the current time.

As of February 2019, the PNC has identified several strong candidates and is in the process of more thoroughly vetting their qualifications and fit for Idlewild. This will include making in-person visits for church services and getting to know them better on a personal level. The PNC expects these more detailed conversations to take place over the next several months prior to making a call. Our focus has been, and will continue to be, on finding the best Head of Staff for Idlewild, regardless of timeframe. The PNC will continue to provide the Session regular reports on the status of the search to assist with the planning process.

One of the many things the PNC has learned is that a thriving ministry is taking place all across the Presbyterian Church. It is a joy to hear that a pastor feels there is “more call” where he or she is currently serving. For this and for the continued support of our Idlewild congregation we give thanks. We are all in this together.

As always, feel free to reach out to members of the PNC with questions or concerns about the search, or e-mail us at pnc@idlewildchurch.org.

Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serving the Lord. Romans 12:11

Grace and Peace,

The Idlewild PNC

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Idlewild PNC update - January 2019

Greetings from the Idlewild Pastor Nominating Committee.

The PNC made significant progress during the latter part of 2018. We are currently meeting weekly to continue our work. Thus far, our tasks have included the following, among other steps:
  1. Preparing the Ministry Information Form to "advertise" the open position on the PC(USA)'s Church Leadership Connection system.
  2. Seeking input and referrals from church members, clergy, and staff regarding our next Head of Staff and Idlewild's future.
  3. Reviewing Pastor Information Forms (PIFs) received from candidate ministers, and seeking input on potential candidates and referrals from pastors, seminary presidents, professors, and other contacts within the PC(USA).
  4. Reaching out to potential candidates to gauge their interest and to ask questions about their background, experience, vision, and current ministries. The potential candidates also asked questions of the PNC in order to learn more about Idlewild.
  5. Listening to sermons available online and doing further research about candidates preferred by PNC members. 
  6. Taking time to deliberate over the Advent season, we began meeting again in early January and further narrowed our focus on preferred candidates.
That brings us to today. As of mid-January 2019, the PNC is in active communication with candidates who have expressed interest in Idlewild. Our next steps will involve a more thorough vetting process which includes formal interviews. Please keep in mind that our work is and must remain confidential, as candidates may be actively engaged in ministry at other churches. 

We invite you to continue in prayer for the PNC as we move forward in our work. 

"Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serving the Lord."
Romans 12:11

Praise be to God,
The Idlewild PNC

Saturday, December 8, 2018

A time of reflection in a season of hope

Over the last two months, members of the Idlewild PNC have spoken with a number of well-qualified and impressive ministers of the Gospel. We are grateful to God for the ministries of each of those with whom we have spoken, and we ask that the Church remember them in prayer. Regardless of whether we have spoken with the next Head of Staff for Idlewild, we have been excited to experience and see the work of God being accomplished in communities across the country through God's ministers. Truly has the Lord poured out blessings on the PC(USA)!

The PNC is currently in a time of reflection and discernment. We have had conversations, listened to sermons, and researched candidate ministers, but we know our task has only just begun. Difficult decisions loom, but so does hope for the future of Idlewild. How fitting that we approach this hope, then, in the season of Advent as we profess hope for the blessing of peace through Christ. We are inspired by this excerpt from the Companion to the Book of Common Worship (Geneva Press, 2003, 96):
In Advent we expectantly wait for the One who has already come. We anticipate the promised justice of God’s new world, yet we praise God who raised the “righteous branch” to rule with justice and righteousness. We hope for the restoration of the afflicted, the tormented, and the grieving, yet we delight that healing has come in Christ. We long for the beating of swords into plowshares, yet we rejoice that the Prince of Peace has appeared. We yearn for the barren deserts of our inner cities to flourish, yet we laud the desert Rose that has bloomed. We dream of the land where lions and lambs live in harmony, yet we acclaim the child born to lead us into the promised land. 
As always, do not hesitate to contact any member of the PNC with a suggestion or request. We are grateful for our engaged and thoughtful congregation! Our email addresses are linked below, along with a short bio about each of our members. You can also reach us collectively by e-mailing us at pnc@idlewildchurch.org.

Jeanne Marie Cummings
Jeanne Marie Cummings is a lifelong Memphian and a child of Idlewild Presbyterian Church. She is the daughter of Lee and Lucy Cummings and the older sister of DC Cummings. She works for Welcome To Memphis, the training subsidiary of Memphis Tourism and is the President of the Kemmons Wilson School Alumni Chapter at the University of Memphis. Jeanne Marie is also involved with Pinecrest Conference and Retreat Center leading ropes courses when needed and leading recreation at Presbyterian Youth Conference every year.

Albert Johnson
Albert Johnson has been a lifelong member of the church and grew up in the recreation department. He has coached various sports and put on numerous basketball camps in the past. He recently served as the chair of the house and properties committee. His grandfather was an associate pastor at Idlewild in the 1960s and his mother and late father have been longtime members. Albert is married to his wife of 10 years, Trinh Johnson, and has two children: Levi (9) and Beklin (7). Albert works for local civil construction company, VuCon, as a Project Manager.

Julie Markham
Dr. Julie Markham was born and raised in Virginia, trained as a neuroscientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and was an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore before her husband Brent’s job at St. Jude brought them to Memphis in 2012. She planned a brief hiatus from her career to accommodate the move, which turned out to be so delightful and fulfilling that she decided not to run from happiness; six years later she continues to embrace life as a self-styled “family manager”. This shift has allowed her to be more present in the lives of their boys Aiden and Miles, now 11 and 7, and also to become engaged in the life of their faith community at Idlewild. Julie was ordained as a deacon in 2016, and has enjoyed facilitating Lenten Lectionary small groups, leading workshops on prayer practices, serving on the planning committee for a Sunday school class (Faith and Function: Ancient Texts and Today’s Questions), and chairing the Congregational Care Committee.

Cindy Moore
Cindy Moore is long time member of Idlewild. She has served on various committees in the church, and she has served as both a deacon and an elder. Cindy was Idlewild's director of Outreach Ministry in the 1990s. She is now the director of development at MIFA. She and her husband, Scott, have two daughters, Isabelle and Lucy.

Mitchell Redd
Mitchell and Mary Katherine Redd joined Idlewild in August 2000. He is currently a member of the Budget & Finance Committee as well as Chair of the Administration Ministry Unit. He previously served on the Stewardship Committee and the Board of the Children’s Center/Kindergarten as well as both a deacon and an elder. He has three children – Josephine, Katherine and John – all of whom were baptized at Idlewild. The girls are in their senior and sophomore years at Hutchison School and John is in 6th grade at Presbyterian Day School. Mitchell is a Senior Vice President for FTN Financial Capital Assets, a loan trading and advisory subsidiary of First Tennessee Bank.

Betty Louis Sheppard (chair)
Betty Louis Sheppard moved to Memphis in 2002. After many years in the Mid-South Presbytery, she knew that Idlewild with its traditions of fine preaching, community outreach, and commitment to the PC(USA) would be her home. Her primary interest in church life is worship and music, which is where the congregation gathers together to prepare and be inspired to live as daily Christians. Music as an integral part of worship gives voice to faith through the singing of hymns, psalms, and liturgy. Betty Louis have four children who grew up in the Church, all of whom are grown with families of their own. She is fortunate to have one daughter as a member of Idlewild, along with a son-in-law and their two children.

Jeremy Sykes
Jeremy Sykes is a lifelong Memphian with deep roots, both family and professional, in the area. He is a graduate of Rhodes College and the University of Memphis' Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. He and his family joined Idlewild in 2015. Jeremy is married to Jenna. Their twins, Eden and Reid, are first graders. Jeremy is self-employed as an immigration attorney in private practice and serves as a volunteer youth soccer coach. He previously served as an immigration adviser to the Office of Multicultural and Religious Affairs for former Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton.

Jeff Thompson
Jeff Thompson has been a member of Idlewild for more than forty years. He has served two terms each as a deacon and an elder and has served on various committees of the church. He is married to Nancy, and they have three adult children. Jeff is in the private practice of law.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Frequently Asked Questions

Will our associate ministers be required to resign when a new pastor is called?
No. Our associates are called to their positions at Idlewild. They are free to make their own choices with regard to their futures at Idlewild.

Will there be an interim minister?
The Pastor Nominating Committee has been charged with seeking a new Head of Staff for Idlewild. We are focusing on this goal. The question of whether to call an interim minister during the transition period is outside the scope of our charge.

What are these acronyms we keep hearing?
PNC - Pastor Nominating Committee
CLC - Church Leadership Connection. The PC(USA)'s online matching system which endeavors to match candidates to open jobs in the denomination.
MIF - Ministry Information Form. The PC(USA)'s version of a job advertisement. Ours has been posted in the CLC since September after approval by the Session and Presbytery.
PIF - Personal (or Pastor) Information Form. Function as both resumes and job applications for potential candidates. The PNC receives PIFs in response to our MIF which is posted on the CLC.

How is the position being advertised?
Our Ministry Information Form was posted on the PC(USA)'s electronic matching system in September. You can read the Idlewild MIF here. We have also spoken with PC(USA) leaders, pastors, and contacts in affiliated seminaries for direction and suggestions regarding our next Head of Staff. Finally, we sincerely appreciate the suggestions we have received from members of our congregation, and we welcome further suggestions.

Have you spoken with potential candidates?
Yes. As of late October, we are in the process of reaching out to and speaking with potential candidates.

....can you tell us about the candidates?!?
With apologies, no. Among other reasons, the PNC must maintain confidentiality to avoid impacting the candidates' relationships with their congregations. This does not mean that we will tell you nothing, however. We represent you, and we intend to continue to update you about our search progress. That said, we will be unable to mention names, locations, or even the genders of our candidates.

I have a candidate or resource to suggest, how can I communicate with the committee?
Please feel free to e-mail any suggestions to pnc@idlewildchurch.org
Otherwise, stop us at church and let us know! Just make certain we have a pen and paper handy.

Who are you, exactly, PNC members?
Betty Louis Sheppard (chair) - ESSheppard@gmail.com
Jeanne Marie Cummings - jcmmings1@gmail.com
Albert Johnson - albert@vuconllc.com
Julie Markham - julie.a.markham@gmail.com
Cindy Moore - cmoore@mifa.org
Mitchell Redd - mitchellredd@yahoo.com 
Jeremy Sykes - jssykes@gmail.com
Jeff Thompson - jthompson@martintate.com

How can we help?
Apart from sending us suggested candidates or resources, we invite you to pray for:
1) our church as we enter a season of change,
2) our committee as we speak with candidates, and
3) the candidates as they discern whether they have been called to Idlewild and continue serving in their current roles.

In Christ,

The Idlewild PNC

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Open congregation conversation session


The Pastor Nominating Committee invites the congregation to an open conversation session on Sunday, October 21 in the chapel following the 11:00AM worship service. All are invited to inform us about what qualities you may like to see in our next pastor. We are also interested in your vision of Idlewild's future.

We are sincerely grateful for the thoughtful suggestions, comments, and questions we have received in our listening sessions so far. You may have participated in a session already, perhaps in Sunday School, or in our conversations with staff and clergy, or in our exchanges with the diaconate and Session. 


Truly, these sessions have been conversations and not merely passive listening sessions. Because of time constraints (and possibly our own gregariousness), we may not have heard every voice. Perhaps you had more to say and did not have the opportunity, or perhaps you have given the future of Idlewild additional prayerful thought in the interim. Some may not have been able to participate at all. Whether you want to follow up on a prior conversation or speak with us for the first time, October 21st will be your opportunity to engage the PNC regarding our shared future. 


As you contemplate the work God will do at Idlewild under our next pastor, we encourage all to remember our vision statement, which has formed the foundation of the PNC's work thus far:


Idlewild Presbyterian Church is a community in which ...

Jesus Christ is the center; The mighty voice of God inspires us to love; the Spirit joyfully sustains and nurtures seekers of every age, stage and circumstance.

Worship forms the core of community life; prayer binds our brokenness and connects us in Christ's love to God and to one another; music, poetry and art flourish in gratitude to our Creator; the beauty of creation is treasured and preserved; all the members of the church are ministers.

The focus is scripture and its meaning for today; faith is formed and spirits nourished through reflection, practice and shared learning; the wisdom of other faith traditions is respected; and a diverse membership enriches and unites us. 

Justice speaks loudly and peace is our aspiration; all voices are heard; recreation and play are a wellspring for fellowship, celebration and growth; the love of God guides our minds and spirits, leading us to right action in our hearts, our homes, our community, our nation, and our world; and  

                                  all who enter find a home. 

Please continue to keep the PNC, the church, and the potential candidates in your prayers. We look forward to hearing from you on the 21st.

With gratitude and love,

The Idlewild Pastor Nominating Committee