March 11, 2015

Dear Members of Grace,

I wanted to share with you some thoughts on the upcoming transition in the pastoral office at Grace and update you on the activities of the Church Council, Board of Elders, Pastor Shaner, and the Call Committee as we seek an Interim Associate Pastor and continue the process of calling a new Senior Pastor.

First, let me express thanks and appreciation for Pastor Kelly Faulstich’s six years of service to our congregation. Kelly has been a tireless and caring Associate Pastor at Grace, preaching the Gospel message, leading worship with joy, and engaging the children and youth of the congregation with the good news of the Gospel. We will miss her caring spirit, and we are excited for Kelly’s new opportunity leading a Chicago congregation. We support Kelly in this opportunity and will continue to pray for her and encourage her in her new call.

The Church Council is making plans for an Interim Associate Pastor to work alongside Pastor Shaner during the transition to a new Senior Pastor and a new Associate Pastor. An announcement will be made after these plans become final. Pastoral care, Sunday sermons, Confirmation, and other pastoral duties will continue unabated during this transition. Pastor Shaner has provided helpful advice and guidance to the Council in making these plans, and I am grateful for his wise partnership as our Interim Senior Pastor.

The Call Committee, led by Dick Martens, has evaluated many candidates for Senior Pastor and has already begun initial interviews. Many excellent pastors have sought a call to serve at Grace, and it is exciting to consider the future at Grace. The committee is working diligently and faithfully, and seeks to be led by the Spirit in this important task.

The Church Council and the Call Committee have agreed that a new Senior Pastor should be called before calling a new Associate Pastor. This will give the new Senior Pastor an important opportunity to help us in calling a new Associate Pastor, who will work together with the Senior Pastor in ministry and in our mission to bring in, build up, and send out disciples for Jesus Christ.

As we look to the future of Grace with hope and trust in God, the Board of Elders is making plans to visit each member of the congregation for the purpose of listening to you about your needs, concerns, and joys. These “To Connect, To Care” visits will offer you the opportunity to have a conversation sometime in the next several months with a two-person team, including a current or former Elder or Council member. You will receive more information about these visits from the Board of Elders. This will be an opportunity for the congregation to strengthen connections within our community and help us discern where the Spirit is leading Grace.

Thank you for your prayers, for Grace and for our future ministry together.

In Christ,
Jeff Wood