A pastor could have several seasons of transition in his or her active ministry years. Are you prepared for the next season?
Ministry Information Profile PDF A clear, comprehensive resume is key for pastors in navigating successful transitions. Ministry Opportunities This list has job postings for ministries that may not require accredited candidates. Pastoral Expectations PDF This guide provides pastors with questions to help guide a conversation with a search committee.
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Presbytery of Lake Huron > Events > Pastors In Transition
Jonathan Williams at his church, Forefront Brooklyn. Just months into his ministry there, he learned that his father wanted to live as a woman. By John Leland. Jonathan Williams was three months into his ministry when his father called to say they needed to talk.
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Paul Williams had never felt entirely comfortable with who he was. When he was very young, he thought he would someday get to choose his gender, probably before kindergarten, and at that point he would choose to be what he felt, a girl. And when the figure he thought of as the gender fairy never materialized, he soldiered on.
From their home on Long Island, he loved to take Jonathan hiking or mountain biking. He was an alpha male, the head of a religious home. Whatever else was going on in his mind, he decided, was a secret that he would take to his grave. Jonathan, who is now 40 and favors rumpled shirts and faded jeans, came to ministry without strong positions on sexual or gender issues.
Christian Reformed Church
He knew few openly gay people, and no transgender people. My wife and I waited until we got married. It was something we valued at the time. At Forefront, when people asked him if his church welcomed gay congregants, his answer was always the same, he said: Yes, of course, everyone is welcome and loved. In December , when his father flew in from his home in Colorado to talk with him, Jonathan thought that his parents might be splitting up, or that his father had cheated on his mother.
Maybe, he thought, his father was going to say he was gay.
Then his father said that he wanted to live as a woman. This is a way bigger deal. I would rather you be gay or be splitting up from Mom. I drank too much and did my best to put on a happy face, but it was pretty brutal. At Whole Foods, he managed a wry smile at the strangeness of that day: how unprepared he was, how it set in motion events that shape his church today. His father had been his male role model and daily counselor in his ministry, as well as his entry into the evangelical world that financed his church. Williams said. On a warm afternoon last month, she was at the West End Collegiate Church in Manhattan for a conference of female evangelical church leaders.
The conference happened to begin on her birthday, and that morning she had received a birthday email telling her that it was not too late for her to turn back to God and live as a man. She received other messages, too, that were not as mild, and some that were not mild at all. For months after she told her son about wanting to make the transition, the secret remained within the family. Paul still lived as a man within Orchard Group; Jonathan worked on establishing Forefront Brooklyn, with guidance and financial support from pastors at other conservative churches.
People had committed their lives to making Forefront Brooklyn work, or looked to the church for moral guidance. Did he owe it to them to confide that there was a storm coming that might blow the church away? Like, this is miserable. And I went to him for three, four years dealing with it. In , Paul Williams told Orchard Group that he could not live as a man any longer.
He expected the board to keep him on for another two years to complete projects he had started. After all, Ms. Instead, the board demanded that Paul resign. Friends felt angry or betrayed, Ms. Some prayed for her, others cut off all ties. The words hit her hard. He told congregants that Forefront was a place for questions, not for answers, but many days he found himself at sea. Despite his pedigree, he had taken a circuitous route to the ministry.
His parents were more supportive than he expected, he said. When Paula visited for the first time in September , after some hormone replacement and cosmetic surgery — she declined to discuss the details of her transition, saying it would be inconsiderate of people who cannot afford surgery — Jonathan worried that people would look at her funny or make comments. He became protective of his father, who had always protected him.