Pastor Search Committees, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Women in Church, Pulpit Committee
In June of 2015, Pastor Tullian Tchividjian resigned as senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church after publicly acknowledging that he had an affair. A pastoral search committe was formed:
In September 2015, the congregation elected a Pastor Search Committee consisting of the 13 Ruling Elders of the Session. (Source)
Rod Hayes, Chairman of the The Pastor Search Committee reported that the average church attendance from January to June 2015 was 923, with 1,796 listed as active members.
This is a sizable church.
Here is the list of the people in the search committee as listed at the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (CRPC) website:
- Rod Hayes (Committee Chairman)
- Arturo Perez
- Clark Cochran
- Jeff Masters
- Rich Blatz
- George Barbar
- Jim Airdo
- Joey Spinks
- Jorge Cedeno
- Mike Pritchard
- Bill Jennings
I looked up CRPC and found them listed in the PCA directory. I found the following information about how search committees are selected from the Presbyterian Church in America Administrative Committee site:
The BCO in 20-2 provides that the pulpit committee “may be composed of members from the congregation at large or the Session, as designated by the congregation (see Chapter 25)”.
And then there is this:
From the Book of Acts we learn that the Apostles themselves did not appoint officers, but asked the congregation to elect them (see Acts 6). The Presbyterian Church in America seeks to maintain as an absolute principle the right of the congregations to elect those who shall serve as officers over them. The Session, therefore, should not try to select the pulpit committee prior to the congregational meeting, but rather should call the meeting with the stated purpose given at least one week ahead and allow the congregation full freedom to decide whether they want to name the Session or a select group from their number at large. For the Session to nominate persons for the committee or to suggest that they themselves should serve as the committee could be viewed as an infringement of the rights of the congregation to exercise their freedom in the calling of the minister they desire to have.
So, evidently the congregation decided that they wanted to name the Session as the pulpit committee. The Session consists of eleven men.
So then I searched to see how other churches selected a pastoral search committee. Here is excerpt from a document entitled, More Than a Search Committee: Exploring Opportunities in Times of Transition:
Considerations in choosing members of the search committee should include diversity of ages and gender, diversity of long-time church members and newer members, diversity of spiritual gifts and perspectives. Include, if possible, some who have had prior pastor search team experience. (Source)
Here is one more sampling from the Tennessee Baptist Convention:
A word of caution is in order at this point. It is hoped that the persons selected to serve on the committee will be characterized by emotional and spiritual maturity. Nothing impedes the work of a committee more than the presence of a member who has a personal agenda. The committee should be as far as possible a microcosm of the congregation. All members in the church need to feel they have someone on the committee who will represent their interests. . . It is very important that the members of the committee be representative of the entire congregation. Therefore, the committee should be balanced in gender and age. (Source)
Ok, here is the link which shows the pictures of the CRPC Pastor Search Committee. Click on the link and tell me what you see. Do you see these group of men as a microcosm of the congregation who will represent their interests? Do you see men, women, various races, and diverse age groups represented?
While I am concerned about the lack of diversity in race and age, I am more concerned about the 50% of the church who are not represented in CRPC’s Pastor Search Committee: women/girls. Those who have followed SSB for a while have surely seen my growing concern about women in the church. How can a 100% all-male Session adequately reflect the hearts of women? Let’s say that a man on the Session does share concerns about the needs/desires of women in the church. Where will it be on his priority list of requirements?
Is having an all-male Session the most accurate and appropriate way of representing the church? I wonder if the women at CRPC are so used to men taking the lead on areas such as this, that they may not question their role in the process of finding and hiring a new pastor. If that is true, then what a shame. In the process of voting for the Session to represent the congregation, I’m afraid that women’s voices will be put on the back burner.
What other implications do you see in having an all-male pastoral search committee?