Fourth Church is currently in a season of transition relative to pastoral leadership.
We are presently in that time between a Pastor’s leaving and an intentional Interim Pastor joining us.
During the transition period, the congregation, as a Presbyterian body, continues to have final responsibility for decisions.
To facilitate that, the co-chairs of the Personnel Council and the co-clerks of Session are working together as the Congregation Leadership Resource Team (CLRT).
The members of this Congregation Leadership Resource Team are
During the transition period the CLRT is serving as representatives of the congregation and as a resource for the leadership of Fourth Church.
In that role, they work to moderate and facilitate decision-making that affects the congregation broadly.
They also collaborate with clergy, staff, and lay leadership when appropriate.
The role of Acting Moderator of Session is being filled by Lucy Forster-Smith.
Lucy is also serving as Acting Head of Staff until the Interim Pastor arrives.
The critical work that the Clergy, Senior Leadership Team, Program Directors, and the entire staff of Fourth Church and Chicago Lights do continues as it always has, with, for some, the addition of transition-related responsibilities.
Session approved a transition plan of hiring an intentional Interim Pastor, with a contract for one year maximum that is renewable.
The Interim Pastor is not our next Senior Pastor.
Rather they are someone to guide us during the year or more when we are searching for the next Pastor, and they will help us do the kind of preparatory work that is always important in advance of welcoming a new leader.
This includes actively discerning as a congregation our call for the future and making room for change where it might be needed.
On September 12, 2023, Session approved hiring as our Interim Pastor the Reverend Tom Are Jr. He will be with us beginning Sunday, October 29.
Tom Are was recommended to Session by the Interim Pastor Nominating Committe (IPNC), which was made up of the following Fourth Church members:
Mark Hurley, Chair
Gretchen Van Natta
The IPNC brought together members of the Personnel Council and representatives from Session and Trustees, and together they worked with Craig Howard, Executive Presbyter of the Chicago Presbytery.
It was this committee’s responsibility to recommend an Interim Pastor candidate to the Personnel Council. Per Presbyterian Church (USA) policy, the Interim Pastor was then hired on a temporary contract approved by Session.
The first step in our intentional interim process was for the IPNC to identify possible candidates for the Interim Pastor position.
As part of that process, the IPNC first finalized and submitted a Ministry Information Form (MIF) — the job description that provides background about Fourth Church and that details what we are seeking in an Interim Pastor. This was an important tool in searching for and having conversations with candidates for this interim role.
The MIF was approved by the Presbytery of Chicago and shared with the Presbyterian Church (USA) for posting in early summer. The IPNC then began receiving names of interested and recommended candidates to consider as they looked for someone to guide us during the year or more when we are searching for the next Pastor.
In addition to receiving names from the Presbyterian Church (USA) matching service, the committee also gathered recommendations from three additional sources: the congregation; the Executive Presbyter of the Chicago Presbytery, Craig Howard; and the committee’s networking with PCUSA leaders.
The result was an extensive list of individuals, which the committee worked through to identify possible Interim Pastor candidates. The committee then had initial discussions with some of them, eventually bringing two candidates to Chicago for a full day of in-person interviews.
The result of these conversations was a unanimous decision by the committee to recommend the Reverend Tom Are Jr. join us in ministry as our Interim Pastor. We look forward to Tom and his wife, Carol, being with us!
Pastor Nominating Committee
The formation of a Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) to call our next Senior Pastor will not take place for several months yet.
It is during the ministry of the Interim Pastor that a PNC is elected by the congregation and begins the search for a new called Pastor.
When we are ready to begin that process, it will be the work of the Nominating Committee to recommend a slate of candidates for the PNC and present that to the congregation.
Questions, Comments, and Updates
Throughout this time of transition, please do not hesitate to send questions or comments to the Congregation Leadership Resource Team.
And if you do not already receive the Fourth Church weekly email newsletter, we encourage you to subscribe so that you do not miss any updates (such as the following) in this season. You can sign up at www.bit.ly/newsfromfpc or by sending us your email address.