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

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