December 13, 2020
My Chilson Hills Church Family,
As many of you know I have been serving as the part-time chaplain at Woodland Village in Brighton. The experience has not been easy, but at the same time, I have loved the opportunity to explore my ministry gifts in a different setting. At times, working with the residents at Woodland Village has been heart-wrenching and at other times it has felt invigorating.
This past August, I decided to take a training program for chaplains called, Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) and the experience only furthered my appreciation for the chaplaincy. So, after much thought and prayer, I decided to pursue a chaplain residency in Ann Arbor. Essentially, this is a paid internship where I would function as a hospital chaplain. While I have not been accepted yet, I have been told that I am a strong candidate. This, however, is a full-time residency set to begin in August 2021, forcing me to make a difficult decision.
So, several weeks ago, I met with the EMT and the deacons to tell them that I felt called to pursue the chaplaincy, meaning that I could not serve as the full-time pastor of Chilson Hills beginning in August 2021. However, while the residency is full-time, I would still need to make additional income, so, the EMT asked if I would consider serving as a part-time pastor: I said that I would.
When I announced my decision to the deacons in November, Angie Miller – a one-time staff member, and long-time member who at the time was completing her deacon training – said that she felt led to offer her services as an assistant pastor. Her call to ministry had been percolating for some time, and so, we agreed to meet to discuss a scenario in which we could bring Angie on staff to provide stability and leadership during the months ahead.
It became clear after a few meetings, that Angie’s desire for ministry was not a moment of inspiration, or a mere willingness to help. Angie truly felt called to ministry.
So, after much discussion with the deacons and EMT, I submitted a proposal to create an associate pastor position for Angie to grow in her ministry skills and help the church in 4 major areas: Family Life Ministry, Digital Communication Strategy, Pastoral Care and Leadership Education. In addition, Angie will be entering seminary in March, and we agreed these 7-8 months could be a time of discernment and leadership education.
In August 2021, we propose that Angie’s part-time position will assume more responsibilities and I will serve more in a part-time capacity. Essentially, Angie and I will be splitting a full-time role. But, during this time, Chilson will also be searching for a new full-time pastor to lead their congregation.
While I am committed to serving as Chilson’s part-time pastor, until August 2022, a lot could happen in these 20 months. So, we must be open to the possibility that the search team may find someone sooner than summer 2022. Therefore, I will only occupy my role as a part-time pastor for as long as it takes for the next pastor to arrive. And once that pastor is here, I will step away from Chilson Hills Church.
This has been a difficult decision for me. This past November marks my 10th year at Chilson Hills Church. Except for the churches in which we were raised, Heather and I have been at this church longer than any other church. Chilson is the only church Lincoln has ever known, and Danny remembers no other congregation. While my departure from this position is far away, the prospects of leaving this congregation is very sad for me and every member of our family. Let me assure you, tears have already been shed, because this is home to us.
I also want to be clear that I do not make this decision because I am being pushed out, or because of an unpleasant work environment. This career shift is for three main reasons:
- I believe that my skills and my gifts are better suited for the chaplaincy.
- I feel as if I have “plateaued” as a leader, and Chilson needs a new leader to help them grow.
- I feel led to pursue a new challenge
Please note that the transition plan I have laid out above must be approved by the congregation. In addition, the congregation must approve any budget changes that include adding Angie’s salary as a new staff member. After the EMT meets this Thursday, documents will be posted on Friday, December 18, and an open forum meeting will be held on Sunday, December 20 at 6:30 PM on Zoom. You can download the transition plan here, and the associate pastor job description can be found here. A congregational meeting will be held in January to vote on the transition plan.
During the 20 months between now and my departure in August 2022, I will be working hard to prepare volunteers and staff members to do the tasks I am doing now. In addition, I would like to leave behind solid teams and small groups ready for new leadership.
This will be a long goodbye, and I am hoping that my presence, along with Angie’s leadership, will provide the church greater stability. That being said, I know some may decide to depart, but I hope that this congregation will come together to do the good work of God in our congregation. Chilson has endured transitions in the past, and I believe that with God’s help, it can complete another successful passing of the baton.
In the meantime, know that I will remain committed to this congregation as your pastor. I invite you to join me as we all discern the call of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Pastor D.J. Reed
Chilson Hills Church
“Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.”
- 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13