First Church welcomes Julia Metcalf
A lot has happened since the last update from the Personnel Committee. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the committee has been working diligently to develop a staff structure for the future and we are happy to report the process to get there has begun.
First and foremost, Jim plans to stay as head of staff for the foreseeable future. He has no plans to leave and, in his words, “Will stay as long as we want him.” Yet every strong leader must be supported by a strong team, which is where we have placed our initial focus.
In interviews with the pastors and staff leadership, it became apparent that several activities needed to be removed from associate pastor duties and reassigned to allow for better focus in key ministry areas. One of the areas identified is in university ministries. We are excited to introduce the new role of director of university ministries and even more excited to announce that Julia Metcalf has accepted the position. Many of you already know Julia from her vocal contributions to First Church while she was attending college.
“While earning my degree, I loved the courses in spiritual formation ...
“While earning my degree, I loved the courses in spiritual formation, particularly dealing with Christian mysticism and spiritual practices. Christian mysticism is essentially the knowledge, tools and practices we gain from early Christians or “mystics” as they were called at the time such as Julian of Norwich, St Francis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas and others,” said Julia.
Julia earned a Master of Divinity from Princeton in May 2020. While working towards her degree, she worked as a pastoral intern with a focus on children’s ministry at First Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville, New Jersey; as a sacred sector intern with a focus on policy equipping papers with The Center for Public Justice in Washington, D.C.; and as a pastoral intern with a focus on youth and young adults at the American Church in Paris (ACP). It was during her time at ACP that she found her passion for working with young adults. She is presently a candidate for ordination in the PC(USA) and will be seeking ordination in the coming year.
In addition to the director of university ministries role, we are currently in the process to identify, select, and integrate a theologian in residence into our pastoral staff. This role, which is done on a temporary (usually 24 months) contractual basis, is used nationally by many Presbyterian churches. We expect this role to provide theological and Christian education as well as another strong theologian in the pulpit on Sundays. Jim has been contacted by many of his national peers with outstanding candidates that are interested in a theologian in residence opportunity. We expect to interview candidates this summer.
Lastly, an update on our existing staff of 50. Like many of you, the COVID-19 pandemic required our staff to navigate a new and different way to work. Seemingly overnight, they were challenged with finding a way to provide meaningful worship opportunities while accommodating COVID-19 restrictions. They exceeded the challenge by providing a full slate of opportunities utilizing on-line streaming programs most available to our congregants. The flexibility of having the choice of worship from home or worship in-person has been well received.
To thank our staff for this work, and the work they do every week, the Personnel Committee recognized each of them in June with a small token of appreciation and a living vine for their garden. Special recognition was given to those celebrating five-year anniversary milestones, most significant of which was Tonye Briscoe who celebrated 35 years of service to First Church. Incredible!
We are grateful for our dedicated staff and ask for you to include them in your prayers of thanksgiving. We also ask for your continued prayers of wisdom as we build a foundation for the future.