August 11, 2016

Session announcement

Staffing Updates

The past 18 months has been a period of significant change in the professional staff supporting the various ministries of Grace Presbyterian Church. A number of our professional staff members have moved on to new opportunities; Session has prayerfully made plans to address our staffing needs, and we would like to take this opportunity to inform the congregation about these plans. 

We thank God that, after a long search, we have a new Director of Student Ministries. Kinsey Edgar-Smith is currently guiding the youth, encompassing middle and high schoolers as well as those in the age group 18-25. Kinsey has taken charge of this program area over the past few months and has been doing an outstanding job.

To understand the plan regarding an associate pastor, it’s important to understand a distinction our denomination makes between a supply associate pastor and a called and installed associate pastor. A supply associate pastor is hired by Session. While the contract with a supply associate pastor is renewable, this is typically a one- or two-year arrangement, although it can last longer. A called and installed associate pastor is called by vote of the congregation following a search by a committee elected by the congregation. This is the more typical pattern for a longer-term relationship.

Session believes that we should move toward having a called and installed associate. This is not new at Grace, although it has been over ten years since Grace has had a called and installed associate pastor. Session believes, based on the Mission Study Team’s recommendations, that having a full-time called associate pastor in place is critical for the long-term growth of the congregation and of Grace Church. However, we need to complete our mission study and submit it to the presbytery before getting permission to start searching for a called and installed associate, and the search for a called and installed associate will likely take a number of months. Therefore Session authorized the search for a supply associate pastor to serve on an interim basis.

Session appointed a search committee to find an interim associate pastor; the committee includes Elders Tom Erwine, Mimi Satterthwaite, and Sara Vernon Sterman, and Pastor Sandy Hull. This committee has met and reviewed candidates over the past two months and believes that a candidate will be brought forth shortly. 

For leadership in our music program, the Session is also planning for an interim period. This interim will enable us to think, pray, and plan for the best configuration of staff to lead the music program into the future, in accordance with the mission study. During the interim, which will last through the 2016-17 program year, our organist, Kevin Engleman, will direct the Cathedral Ringers and attend to the administrative needs of our children’s choirs, and an interim choir director will lead the Chancel Choir and the Celebration Singers. Choir members Sue Kuhl, Wendy Browder and Jeff Cline, together with Pastor Sandy Hull, are actively searching for the interim choir director at this time. 

The net result of this planning is that we anticipate having a full staff, including our senior pastor, Sandy Hull; an interim associate pastor; an interim choir director, our organist, Kevin Engleman; our youth director, Kinsey Edgar-Smith, as well as our current office and custodial staff, in place for fall 2016. As noted, two of those positions are interim and searches for permanent hires will commence in early 2017. 

Below is a one-page “Q&A” that answers certain procedural questions relating to our staffing plans. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Personnel Committee directly. Personnel Committee members are John Van Buren, Jim Still, Penny Casey, and Leslie Gerhard.

Grace Church Personnel Q&A
What areas of responsibility will an interim associate pastor have? The Supply Associate Pastor will have responsibility to provide guidance and support for the following areas: the Board of Deacons, Children’s Education, and Adult Education/Small Groups. The Supply Associate Pastor will serve as staff liaison to the volunteer team that manages our website and social media, and will lead in worship weekly and preach occasionally. 

Why do we need an interim associate pastor instead of searching for an installed associate pastor immediately? We are seeking an interim because we have not yet finished the necessary steps with the presbytery that will enable us to search for a called/installed associate.  Session anticipates being ready to begin the search in the first half of 2017.  

What will the congregation’s involvement be in the search for a called and installed associate pastor? The congregation will need to elect an associate pastor nominating committee at a congregational meeting sometime this fall. When that committee finishes its work and presents a candidate to the congregation, then the congregation will have an opportunity to both meet that individual and to vote on whether to issue a call. 

Can the interim associate pastor transition into becoming the permanent associate pastor? Per the Presbytery's policies, a clergyperson with a supply contract must serve at a church a minimum of three years before being eligible for a called/installed position at the same church.

Why do we need an interim choir director?
Session, with input from the Worship Committee and in conversation with the Choir, is evaluating whether it is more effective to have a music director responsible for all aspects of music at Grace Church or a choir director responsible solely for the Chancel Choir and other choirs at the church. There is not one model that works, but as the demands of music have changed Session believes that it is a good time to evaluate the scope of responsibilities.

Can the interim choir director transition into the permanent music/choir director?
Session has made it feasible for an interim choir director to apply for the permanent position.

Is Session considering any other full or part time positions?
The only other position that is under consideration at this time is the possible creation of a Communications Director position. It is not clear whether this will be a part-time position at the church or a function that is outsourced.

On behalf of Session,

Mimi Satterthwaite
Clerk of Session

Session members:
Andrew Barnett
Ali Danilak
Sandy DiGiulio
Susan Dorshimer
Tom Erwine
Doug Geer
Rob Hudson
Philip Kuhl
Don Pizer
Sara Vernon Sterman
John Van Buren

Other announcements

Church Directories
The pictorial church directories are available to be picked up at the church.  As was announced back in February, there is a complimentary copy for every family or person who had their picture taken for the directory.  For those who did not have their picture taken, there are a limited number of directories available.  Please call the church office or come to the office during the week if you are interested in a copy.

Choir Registration
Our children’s choirs consist of the Cherub Choir (Age 4 – Grade 2) and the Chapel Choir (Grades 3-5).  Both choirs rehearse on Sundays from 9:30 – 10:20 a.m., starting the Sunday after Labor Day and finishing the Sunday before Memorial Day.  Register now online on our music page. 

Grace Place
Friday, August 12th - Brazil: Past and Present  Narrara and Nayhamar  Moura, two young members of Grace Church, who have graciously served as volunteers at Grace Place all year, will be presenting a program on their native Brazil.  Come see pictures and hear stories of this beautiful country.  Programs begin at 12:45 and you are welcome to come at 12:00 for lunch.  Bring your friends and enjoy.

Cornerstone Christian Academy Back to School Collection
What could be more exciting than brand new school supplies to start a brand new school year?  We all need a fresh start in this summer of distrust and discontent.

Cornerstone Christian Academy is a Mission Partner of Grace, providing safe, Christian education to 250 K-8th grade students in a vulnerable neighborhood in southwest Philadelphia.

Once again, we are honored to support the efforts of dedicated teachers, volunteers, and families by collecting school supplies for the students and their classrooms.  In this way, families with limited means can focus on other things.  Teachers and students in the past have been overwhelmed by the generosity of Grace. 

Here is the list of needed school supplies:  

  • Loose leaf paper
  • Divider Tabs
  • 3-ring notebooks (2 inch)
  • Folders
  • Pencils
  • Pencil sharpeners
  • Colored pencils
  • Pens (blue, black, red)
  • Highlighters
  • Rulers
  • Erasers
  • White board markers
  • Tissues
  • Hand sanitizer (large bottles for classrooms)
  • Flashdrives

School supplies can be left in the bins in the collection hall at Grace until Sunday, August 21st. Learn more about Cornerstone Christian Academy at


Benjamin Van Buren