Our congregation is currently in a time of transitional ministry, as our pastor for 26 years, Rev. Gary Mathiesen, retired from ministry in October 2017.

Rev. Heather James is currently serving as our Transitional Pastor as we undergo the process of identifying a new installed pastor. 

Below, you will find helpful information about this process.

When will we do the mission study?
We are already working on it! The Session has been listening and asking for your participation as we consider the past, present, and future of SOTH. We will be compiling the information you are providing through email, notes, questionnaires, and participation in our three congregational gatherings (May, June, and July) and seek to establish a clear picture of who SOTH is and where we are headed.

How is this mission study different than other work we’ve done?
Some mission studies are comprised largely of church and neighborhood demographics, sometimes including the development of a mission statement. We are seeking to do this work by listening to where God is leading, discovering where passions and faith are being stirred, trying some experimentation in ministry, and seeking to understand vital connections between the congregation and the surrounding community.

How and when do we call a Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC)?
The Session will request permission from The Olympia Presbytery Commission on Ministry (COM) to call a PNC when we have completed the conversations needed for a viable presentation of our mission study, and when the Session and the transitional pastor believe the congregation and leadership has some clarity about next steps in the ministry and mission of SOTH.

What happens next?
After the PNC is formed by SOTH’s nominating committee, and voted on by the congregation, they will be charged with taking the information discovered through the mission study process and will develop a Mission Information Form (MIF) that can be circulated to attract possible candidates for the next installed pastor. The PNC will receive training from COM, and support from the transitional pastor in their work. They will consider all the applications they receive and will work to discern the best fit for the congregation based on the discoveries in our current conversations and mission study process.

Why can’t we just keep our transitional pastor?
In best practices, the transitional pastor needs the objectivity and freedom provided by a short term call in order to help the community address past issues and envision future mission.

Timeline! I need a timeline!
Most transitional ministries involve a transitional pastor working with a congregation for 18-36 months. In our situation, we hope to begin forming our PNC sometime in the fall of 2018. They would be trained and develop our MIF over the following few months. The MIF could be posted and open to receive applications as early as January or February of 2019. It then would take another 6 months or so to determine the best candidates and do the necessary work to choose a pastor for the next season of ministry at SOTH. The Session is purposefully holding this timeline loosely for the sake of meaningful discernment and congregational involvement in the process.

How can I help?
Participate in the conversation. Attend special gatherings. Respond to questions posed in our bulletin, email, and in small group discussions.

If you have ideas about where God may be leading us, share your thoughts with some of our elders or send your ideas to the Session.

Our Nominating Committee will be working hard to find people to serve as elders, deacons, and the PNC in the coming year. If you are willing to be considered for this service, please let the Session know.

And join us in praying for the eyes to see and ears to hear God’s leading among us as we consider next steps at SOTH.