Dear Kirk family,
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
That phrase, descriptive of a food, book, movie, or piece of music that you enjoy but is generally not held in high regard, applies especially to television shows in my house.
It is a real chore to find something to watch that all six of us will enjoy, but shows that others might call “guilty pleasures” tend to hit the spot.
Early in the pandemic we “binged” on Survivor and The Amazing Race, for instance, but as the pandemic has raged on, we ran out of those “guilty pleasure” shows.
Over Christmas, though, we found another one!
Forged in Fire is a show that runs on the History Channel but has a season or two on Netflix. The show is about blade smiths who compete to make knives, swords, hammers, and axes to vet under the eyes of three judges in tests of strength and sharpness. It is more interesting than I am making it sound, I promise!
One thing that I really love about the show is that, often in the first round of the competition, the smiths are asked to create their weapon from ordinary metals. In one show they forged knives from a pinball machine, in another a small tractor, and in another the handle had to be made from an electric guitar.
The contestants that have an eye to see possibilities, and create great blades from the ordinary metals and materials that they see, tend to be the ones to take home the prize.
I think we are in this kind of season at the church. Can we see the possibilities?
For quite some time now, we have been asked to forge our ministry from unfamiliar stock and reimagine what it looks like to be a strong and sharp church. I spent time and words in the State of the Kirk sharing much of how we did this in 2020. If you did not get a chance to view that presentation, please go look at it through our website! I am so proud of this church and continue to be exceedingly grateful to serve it.
In 2021, we will continue this work.
We will open our church programs and campus again. As of writing this letter, we continue in Phase 3 of our gradual reopening plan, but we have every reason to believe a more complete reopening is on the horizon. I hope that we will be in Phase 4 soon! Alongside every reopening institution, we will likely encounter surprises and frustrations. Let’s be loving, patient, and understanding through it all! But let’s also be open to the possibilities for life and love that might emerge as we hammer open new doors and re-weld old relationships. God will be right alongside us!
Enclosed in this letter, you will read a letter and brochure from our Assistant Pastor Nominating Committee introducing you to our new Pastor for Missions, Rev. Edwin R. Estevez. He was elected by the session after a national search and he, his wife Merideth, and daughter, Eva, will join our church community in April. It will be upon him to help us see what is possible in outreach and then fabricate our mission efforts under unique circumstances. I think he is up to the task! To learn more about Pastor Edwin, look for a video update from Ruth Reading, APNC Chair, in worship this Sunday. Also, on the weekend of February 21, the first Sunday in Lent, he will be in town and preach in Sunday worship.
Over the next few months, church leadership will be asking you to join them in a feasibility study for a fundraising campaign that will celebrate our 75th Anniversary. They will invite you to imagine amazing possibilities for our campus, for outreach, and for our long- term future. Our most recent campaign gave us the funding for a successful renovation project and elevator in the Kirk Abbey and the birth of Accent Pontiac. I hope that we will enter this with a longing for seeing what the fire of the Holy Spirit intends to bring heat for us to forge.
It was John Adams, our second president, who said, “People and nations are forged in the fires of adversity.” The same can be said of churches, I think. I look forward to how God will shape us and sharpen us in the next season of our life together!
Dear members of the Kirk,
We are incredibly blessed to welcome Pastor Edwin Estevez to the Kirk in the Hills. His academic and missional accomplishments far outweigh any other candidate we interviewed, but more importantly his love of God and his commitment to bring the gospel to the poor and marginalized people is central to who he is. Pastor Edwin has an amazing ability to identify different components of outreach and connect them to further the Kingdom of God in new and unique ways. His ability to speak several languages means he is able to communicate with people from many different cultures and his wide and varied interests make it easy for him to relate to people. I know you will enjoy getting to know him and his wife, Dr. Merideth Hite-Estevez.
This Sunday, I will share much more about Pastor Edwin and our process of finding him in the online and in-person worship services. I hope you will listen in and I look forward to welcoming him to our church.
Chair, Assistant Pastor Nominating Committee
Notes on Process
There are two ways to fill a pastor position in the Presbyterian Church USA.
First, there is the “Installed” Pastor. Installed Pastors come by way of a nominating committee and a congregational vote. This is how Pastor Nate and Pastor Kelsey arrived at the Kirk.
Most churches bridge the gap between installed pastors with some sort of “Temporary Supply” pastor. Temporary Supply pastors are elected by the session, as opposed to the congregation, and the nominating process is generally less complicated.
In the Presbytery of Detroit, there are two kinds of “Temporary Supply” pastors. First, there is the “Interim” version of the Temporary Supply. Interims enter a church system to ask tough questions and undertake specific transitional tasks.
The other kind of “temporary supply” pastor is called the “Assistant Pastor.” The Assistant Pastor serves on a year-to-year contract and, during that time, the Assistant Pastor is permitted to become an installed pastor only by a congregational vote. Everyone hopes that is the direction that this relationship is taking!
Both Pastor Angela and Pastor Fernando came to us as “Assistant Pastors” and, so, the session decided to follow that process in searching for our new mission pastor. Following a nationwide search and nomination from the Assistant Pastor Nominating Committee, Session voted to hire Pastor Edwin as Assistant Pastor, and give him a 12-month contract that is renewable up to a maximum of two times. During this time, both Pastor Edwin and the Kirk will discern together the potential to share in a more permanent, “installed pastor” relationship.