Ben, Anna and Sarah Allen
Front Row: (L-R) – Wendy Moeller, Stephanie Brinson, Marianna Dunn.
Back Row: (L-R) – John Robert Mattocks, Steve Mabie, Jim Copland, Cille Griffith.
Congregation Calls Pastor – Head of Staff
By Steve Mabie
On Sunday, March 28, 2021 the Congregation voted to call The Rev. Dr. Anna Pinckney Straight as Pastor – Head of Staff. The called meeting was held via ZOOM with nearly 100+ members in attendance. Associate Pastor Dr. Maren Sonstegard-Spray moderated the meeting. The presentation of the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) and motion to call Dr. Straight was the only business considered.
“The PNC was unanimous, enthusiastic, and without reservation in its discernment that Dr. Straight should be our next Pastor and Head of Staff. Thankfully, she reached the same conclusion, accepted our offer, and agreed to terms of call with Church Treasurer Jim Briley. She recently appeared before New Hope Presbytery and was approved for this call,” said Dr. Wendy Moeller, Chair of the Pastor Nominating Committee.
Cille Griffith, PNC member remarked, “We considered many qualified applicants. Our committee reviewed 43 Personal Information Forms (PIFs), both those matched through Church Leadership Connection software and those self-referred. Candidates were interested in our church: we received PIFs from pastors not only from our own Presbytery but also from the West Coast to New England; from New York and the mid-Atlantic to Texas and Florida; and, of course, from West Virginia. Pastoral candidates ranged in age from their early 30s to over 70 years old. Nineteen had doctorates. Eight were women. We are thrilled with this match, and we know our congregation and staff will be as well!”
Steve Mabie, PNC Clerk and a member of last year’s Pastor Transition Team, added, “In fulfilling its task, the PNC carefully considered the Pastor Transition Team’s Mission Study and the results of the Congregation Assessment Tool (CAT) survey completed by church members during the pastor transition process. We paid special attention to the priorities that came out of the previous study. We intentionally sought a person who could help our church and our ministries grow stronger.”
The Rev. Dr. Anna Pinckney Straight comes to us from Old Stone Presbyterian Church in Lewisburg, West Virginia. She has served this historic church (1783), for five years, as Pastor and Head of Staff. Prior to her call to Old Stone, “Anna” served as Associate Pastor for ten years at University Presbyterian Church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Anna grew up in Charleston, South Carolina. As a youth, she attended and was confirmed at Charleston’s Second Presbyterian Church (1809). She attended Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. In 1993, she enrolled at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, from which she was awarded a Master of Divinity degree in 1996. In 2007, Rev. Straight received a Doctor of Ministry degree from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. Her doctoral concentration was in preaching. During her 24 years in pastoral ministry, Dr. Straight has served churches in West Virginia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
“Anna” is equally excited about the call to New Bern. “Now we stand on the brink of something new. Something good,” remarked Dr. Straight. “Something that both celebrates the faithful history of your congregation and takes steps forward into a future only God fully knows and sees. I could not be more excited, humbled, and honored to accept the call to be your pastor and am looking forward to getting to know you so we can learn, together, what God has in store.”
Dr. Straight and her family, husband Ben and daughter Sarah Allan, will be relocating to New Bern in the coming weeks. After a long-planned Montreat vacation at the end of June, her first Sunday in the pulpit will be July 4, 2021. Mark your calendars!
The PNC members ask for your continued prayers as together we seek to follow God’s leadership in supporting our new pastor. Please join us in welcoming Anna, Ben, and Sarah Allan into our church family!
Pastor Nominating Committee Gets Ample Support
By Steve Mabie
On September 1, 2020 when your Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) first convened, we had very little information on how we would proceed, and no idea on how long the process would take. Gratefully, because Presbyterians are “decently and in order” types, there was a template laid out on how we would proceed. Fortunately, there has been ample assistance.
Only Wendy Moeller had served on a First Presbyterian Pastor Search Committee before and after the first meeting she agreed to serve as the Chair of the PNC. Marianna Dunn secured the position of Technology Officer, unopposed. Steve Mabie volunteered as PNC Clerk. During that first meeting Presbytery Executive, Ted Churn walked the Committee through the multi-step process of selecting a Pastor. Soon, Ted appointed Dick Marks from First – Greenville to serve as our Vacancy Counselor. Either in person or through ZOOM, Dick has met with us at nearly every meeting.
But before the PNC even met, in January, 2020, Interim Pastor Eddie Bellis convened a group of members to carry out the Mission Study and Congregational Assessment Tool, or CAT Survey. This forerunner group was led by David Taylor. The survey and the interpretation, called Vital Signs, has been a “signpost” for the PNC, pointing out the direction, interests, strengths, and weaknesses of First Presbyterian Church, New Bern. This work has provided great insight into what type of candidate the PNC should be seeking.
So, the companion document to the Mission Study is called the Ministry Information Form, or MIF. In completing this exercise, the PNC was required to get specific about the qualities and skill-sets the ideal candidate for our church would possess. In Presbyterian lingo, these personal attributes are called “Competencies.” Other important information is captured in the MIF including experience level and salary expectations.
From the Presbytery Commission on Ministry, Rev. Troy Lesher-Thomas assisted the PNC in getting registered on the Church Leadership Connection (CLC) web site. It was through this clearinghouse program that our church’s information was matched with the available Pastors’ data from their individual Pastor Information Form (PIF). (Yes, we Presbyterians do like our acronyms!)
This matching exercise of PIF x MIF provided nearly 25 candidates for the Committee’s consideration. Additionally, other available Ministers who were not matched automatically by the CLC were free to send their cover letter and PIF to the committee. Approximately 10 applicants were self-referred.
In the Presbytery Office, Christine Kelson helped our committee with some compensation and benefit questions. Our own Church Treasurer, Jim Briley, was a terrific help on these issues as well. Along the way, the Committee depended upon the wisdom and insight of Rev. Dr. Maren Sonstegard-Spray in consultation. During our recent Candidate visits, Presbyterian friend, Nelson McDaniel provided a much-enjoyed History Tour of New Bern. FPC Facility Supervisor, Tommy Hall cleared the way for the FPC Campus Tour as well as providing an updated list of property improvements. Communications Facilitator, Cathy Wingfield provided ZOOM arrangements and edited our newsletter articles updating the congregation. Office Administrator, Priscilla Miller made our meeting room reservations.
The members of the PNC are greatly indebted to all these folks and others who have assisted this process of Pastor selection. Selecting a new Senior Pastor is a humbling experience, but along the way your committee has been assisted by many capable groups and individuals. We are deeply grateful.
Please continue your prayers for our church, your PNC Committee, and for our Candidates!
Pastor Nominating Committee Moving Forward
by Steve Mabie
Your Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) has been hard at work! The Committee meets several times a month at the Ministry Center and has made good progress with the required preparation work. In the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A), Ministers and other key ministry leaders are selected through a matching process hosted by the Church Leadership Connection (CLC). Churches like ours are assisted and guided in their search by the Presbytery Committee on Ministry. At FPC- New Bern, our Vacancy Counselor provided by the Committee on Ministry is Dr. Dick Marks. Dr Marks is a retired ECU professor and has served as a Vacancy Counselor many times. He has served as Clerk of Session of the First Presbyterian Church, Greenville, NC. We are grateful for his assistance.
The PNC has now completed the first major step of our search – completing the Ministry Information Form (MIF). This exercise requires the PNC to accurately describe our church and its perceived mission. Other components of the MIF give the Committee the opportunity to highlight the qualities the church seeks in the new Pastor. Additionally, several penetrating questions require the Committee to state the strengths and development needs of our congregation. It is a very thorough document! Only after Session approval, and approval by the Presbytery Committee on Ministry can the MIF be submitted on the Church Leadership Connection platform. Now, joyfully, this has been done!
But guess what? Minister candidates who are seeking a call to another church must also go through a similar discipline. Each minister candidate completes a Personal Information Form (PIF). This document requires the minister to conduct a self-inventory on their experience, strengths, and areas of development, and their sense of calling in ministry. The PIF requires the candidate to address aspects of ministry like vision, size of church, acceptable locations, and compensation. The work of the candidates is also reviewed by their Presbytery Committee on Ministry. Of course, this whole process is consistent with the Book of Order with its emphasis on orderly transitions.
The Church Leadership Connection platform will match our MIF to the available PIF’s and notify our PNC Committee of candidates who meet our requirements. Because of the thoughtfulness of this process, we won’t likely receive any PIF’s from ministers who really wanted a call to a church in Alaska or Wyoming! The PIF’s the Committee will review will be from folks judged to be likely candidates. Individual ministers may also direct CLC to send their PIF to us, even if the CLC platform does not initially match us. Likewise, our PNC Committee may request a PIF of a minister, even if the match does not initially occur.
So, we wait and anticipate, in this season of Advent, to see what wonderful servants of Christ we will be introduced to! Serving on the PNC are Cille Griffith, Marianna Dunn, Stephanie Brinson, Jim Copland, John Robert Mattocks, Steve Mabie, and Chair, Wendy Moeller. Please keep these folks in your prayers!
“It’s a Long and Winding Road…that Leads to Your Door…” – Paul McCartney
Not sure if the former Beatle was thinking about the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) process when he wrote those words, but it is an accurate assessment. “Decently and In Order” is part of our DNA around here, so “Yes, Virginia. There is a process.” But, Be of Good Cheer – we are underway and working toward completion of our Ministry Information Form (MIF). We’ll be presenting that to Session and then to the Presbytery Committee on Ministry for review. Our hope is to do this in the next 30-60 days. We will keep you posted as we tread along this path. Please continue your prayers for this group, your Pastor Nominating Committee.
Pastor Nominating Committee Begins Work
The FPC – New Bern Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) has convened and has begun the process that will ultimately lead us to our next Senior Minister / Head of Staff. The PNC was elected during our first ever ZOOM Congregational Meeting on Sunday, August 23 from a slate submitted by the Nominating Committee.
Serving the church on the Pastor Nominating Committee are Wendy Moeller, Cille Griffith, Jim Copland, Stephanie Brinson, Marianna Dunn, John Robert Mattocks, and Steve Mabie. The committee is assisted by Dr. Dick Marks of the New Hope Presbytery Committee on Ministry. Dr. Marks’ appointed role is that of Vacancy Counselor, and he has assisted other churches in this capacity in the past.
New Hope Presbytery Executive, Rev. Ted Churn, met with the PNC during their first meeting, convened on ZOOM on September 1, 2020. He reviewed the established process for calling a Minister with the group. Rev. Churn used a PowerPoint presentation to highlight some of the milestones to be achieved in a successful search. The presentation also called attention to “best practices” and to pitfalls for the committee to be aware of. Following the meeting, Dr. Marks was appointed as our Vacancy Counselor.
At the second PNC meeting on September 8, 2020, Rev. Eddie Bellis reviewed the FPC Ministry Plan developed by the earlier Pastor Transition Team. Particular attention was given to the Congregational Assessment Tool (CAT Survey) which was completed in the Spring of 2020. This vehicle gives the PNC group clear insights into the perceived health of the church. Also discussed in Rev. Bellis’ presentation were the gifts and qualities the survey participants believe are important in our future Pastor candidates.
During this second meeting, Wendy Moeller was selected as Chair of the PNC, Steve Mabie as Clerk, and Marianna Dunn as Tech Support / Communicator. The PNC plans to meet several times a month, either in person or by ZOOM. The Presbytery Committee on Ministry reports that most search efforts are completed between 6 – 18 months, depending upon a variety of factors.
Although the work of the PNC is confidential, periodically the committee will report on its activities and process. Fortunately, within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) the Pastor Nominating Committee process is well-documented and well-resourced. Even so, the prayers of the congregation members are earnestly sought.
Thank you for your continued support of First Presbyterian Church – New Bern!
The Pastor Nominating Committee:
Jim Copland, Marianna Dunn, Stephanie Brinson, Wendy Moeller, Cille Griffith, Steve Mabie and John Robert Mattocks