Shepherd of the Hill (PCUSA) is a delightful congregation located in Puyallup's South Hill neighborhood. They have about 120 in worship on a Sunday and 187 members. The church has a healthy distribution of ages and a long history of working well together in both ministry and mission. In October 2017, their pastor of twenty-six years retired, and the church hired a transitional pastor to help them consider their history and discern God's leading for the future. Two members of Session were also appointed to help guide this process.
For six months, beginning in January 2018, the congregation met together to tell their story, and connect with the core values that has shaped their ministry from charter to the current moment. We solicited stories, information, and opinions from the congregation through face to face interviews, surveys (both printed and online), and discussions in small and large group contexts. Throughout the process, the Session worked to understand and interpret the data, and each consecutive gathering or survey was crafted to further understanding and engage the congregation in discerning next steps. Finally, the Session met to distill all the information gathered into a clear statement of core values and mission priorities.
It has been a privilege to walk with this congregation through the process, and to help the Session shape both the journey and identify God's leading for the future. The two elders appointed by Session to help guide the transition have been wonderful partners in this work. Following the congregational gatherings, and Session's season of discernment, I put together the mission study summary in consultation with the two elders who helped lead the work. The Session then reviewed the document and gave feedback which was incorporated before it was given to the Commission on Ministry of our Presbytery.
The congregation and Session is proud of the work we have done, and the study which documents our journey. We hope it will bear fruit, not just in the search for an installed pastor, but in shaping the mission and ministry of Shepherd of the Hill for the season ahead. Read their mission study here.
Post written by Heather James, Transitional Pastor at Shepherd of the Hill
Heather has served in full time pastoral ministry for more than 20 years, and remembers God’s call to church leadership as early as her young teen years when she led a bible study for second graders. This call took root and has grown through God’s faithfulness and leading in many different seasons of life ~ a music degree at Grinnell College, pastoral training from Fuller Theological Seminary, serving in parish ministry in both installed and transitional rolls, and spending time overseas as a missionary in Asia. One of Heather’s deep joys in ministry is leading God’s people in worship through Biblical reflection, prayer, and music. She speaks with the ability to balance the message of God’s love for us with our call to share that love with others.
Heather has completed year one of Transitional Ministry training through Menucha Retreat and Conference Center, and is currently pursuing her DMin in leading organizational and congregational change with Dr. Tod Bolsinger at Fuller Theological Seminary.
Heather lives with her daughter in an old farm house in Tacoma, WA. On her days off you can find her biking, hiking, or kayaking in our beautiful northwest region. She also loves quilting, good coffee shops, and is an avid reader.
Interim By Design is pleased to share mission studies with our community. To share your mission study contact us.