Tuesday, November 26, 2019

November 2019 update

Dear Idlewild members,

Since our last update in early October, the Idlewild PNC has met regularly. We are in conversation with ministers who are discerning whether they sense a call to Idlewild. We trust in the process which has led us to this moment, and we trust our direction.

Our PNC meets at 6:00pm on Mondays at the home of our chair, Betty Louis Sheppard. We held our very first meeting in the old Session Room, which is just to the northeast of the sanctuary, but we have met at the Sheppard home since. We always know to expect hors d’oeuvres and a weekly helping of brownies—based on a family recipe—to sate our early evening appetites. The in-home weekly meetings have given us the opportunity to know each other extremely well, but they have also taught us love each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. Our discussions are productive, and our unity of purpose is genuine.

As to the work of discerning the next head of staff for Idlewild, we are in serious, productive conversations with ministers. We are making progress. Visits to ministers have already occurred, and more will happen in the coming months. We are excited about the possibilities opening to our church in this interim period.

Having an interim period between ministers is typical for most PC(USA) churches. For many, an interim minister is needed to bridge the timeline between a senior pastor’s departure and the completion of a new search. For others, an interim minister provides space for the church to grieve after the departure of a pastor and to prepare the congregation and staff for the transition that lies ahead, often implementing administrative and other changes. While potential heads of staff may differ in their opinions on the need for an interim minister, nearly all view the work done during the transition as an important part of having a successful start to their new ministry. 

We continue to be grateful for the work Anne Apple is doing in her new role to set the table for our next Head of Staff. Anne’s pastoral gifts and familiarity with Idlewild’s vision and direction are blessings both for our church and for our search. We are also thankful for Sara, Elizabeth, and the rest of our staff’s commitment to our church. Pastors around the denomination have already begun to take notice of our interim period and the good work of transition at Idlewild. We are confident that the Idlewild which emerges from the interim period will continue to be the strong, vibrant church it has always been.

We invite you all to persist in prayer for our PNC and for our church. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to us as a group or individually with suggestions or concerns. We are truly blessed to be doing the work of the church and to be serving alongside one another. Thank you for your continued trust. 

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

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

Friday, August 23, 2019

August 2019

The Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) has been in communication with the Transition Working Group (TWG) throughout the summer in relation to the timing of our search for permanent Head of Staff. At the outset of our appointment, we were hopeful to be able to discern a candidate that could begin this fall after a short transition period following Steve’s retirement. The PNC is still seeking clarity on God’s call of a candidate to Idlewild and has communicated that to the TWG in order for the Session to make leadership decisions beyond the summer’s transition period.

As we mentioned in earlier communications, the PNC has been committed to finding the very best candidate for Idlewild regardless of timing and have every faith in that outcome. We have been encouraged throughout the process by the quality of candidates we have met, their interest in the Head of Staff position and the importance of Idlewild in PC(USA). As we continue our work, we ask for your ongoing prayers and support.

Grace and Peace,

The Idlewild PNC

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

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.