Our Interim Pastor

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Dear Fourth Church Members, Friends, and Staff,

In early May, our Interim Pastor Nominating Committee (IPNC) was charged with searching for and nominating a candidate to serve as our Interim Pastor.

Yesterday evening, we made our recommendation to Session, who unanimously approved hiring as Interim Pastor the Reverend Tom Are Jr.

Identifying Our Interim Pastor

Our committee was formed by the Co-Clerks of Session and the Personnel Committee co-chairs this past spring. As you will recall, Presbyterian polity does not require a congregational vote for either the formation of our committee or the hiring of the interim. That will, of course, be different when we are prepared to launch a search for our next Senior Pastor, at which time the congregation will be called upon to elect a Pastor Nominating Committee and to vote on their recommendation of whom to call as Senior Pastor.

Our recommendation of the Reverend Tom Are Jr. as Interim Pastor comes after first collecting a list of a couple dozen qualified candidates, who were suggested by members of the congregation, our associate pastors, the Presbytery of Chicago, and leaders and pastoral networks of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

This list was a wonderful roster of talented clergy, diverse in race as well as gender and sexual identity. We had our work cut out for us in narrowing that number to a smaller list of candidates to interview. Ultimately, we brought two of them to Chicago for a full day of interviews in person.

After those in-person conversations, the committee unanimously decided to recommend to the Personnel Committee and then to Session Tom Are.

About the Reverend Tom Are Jr.

Tom currently serves as Co-Pastor of Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, a 4,000-member congregation outside Kansas City. He also served several congregations in the Southeast prior to coming to Village as Senior Pastor nineteen years ago.

Under his leadership, Village added a second campus, making it one congregation with two locations, and elevated online ministry as a priority, including calling an Associate Pastor for Virtual Ministry.

Nationally Tom convened the leadership to launch NEXT Church, a network of Presbyterian leaders working to find new ways of being church. He has served on the board of Austin Seminary, has preached at numerous conferences, and has published his sermons as well as a book Joy Even on Your Worst Days: Wisdom from Philippians.

What Tom Are Brings to Fourth Church

Tom brings to this interim role great organizational savvy, an ability to identify key issues that Fourth Church faces, and a commitment to racial equity and social justice. He also has a keen understanding of and appreciation for what Fourth Church has stood for over its history, even making clear he would not have considered leaving his current congregation if we had not sought him out.

Tom’s blending of vision and understanding of history positions him well to be present in our long-range planning work, as we seek to understand clearly who we, as a congregation, are now and who we are called to be. It also equips him well to help prepare and guide us in searching for and identifying our next Senior Pastor. So that he can best help us in that discernment and preparation, and in accordance with Presbyterian guidelines, as an intentional Interim Pastor Tom will not be eligible to become our Senior Pastor, but he is committed to being with us until that person is called.

We were particularly inspired by Tom’s vision of a transitional period as one to be approached with confidence and hope. We hope you will be too.

After starting video, click on [ ] in lower right to view it full-screen

Welcoming Tom to Fourth Church

We are excited for you to get to know Tom and his wife, Carol, a registered nurse, in person as we welcome them into our Fourth Church family at the end of October.

Over the coming weeks they will be saying good-bye to their Village community, and we will hold them and that congregation close in our prayers during their time of leave-taking.

We will then look forward to having Tom in the Fourth Church pulpit on Sunday, October 29.

We hope you will plan to be with us that day as we embark on this interim journey together with Tom!

In partnership,

Mark Hurley (Chair), Jared Light, Sally Scott, Gretchen Van Natta, Jessica Wang
Interim Pastor Nominating Committee




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