Rev. Kyle Delhagen
One of the things you learn growing up as the son of a minister, is that a pastor’s family is as much called to a congregation and place as the pastor themself. My wife, Elena, and our two children,
Jumah - 15, and Atticus - 4, not only keep me grounded and remind me of God’s love and joy every day, but they deepen my ministry in profound ways. As a husband, a biological father, and a father of an adopted daughter, my understanding of our relationship with God has been stretched, challenged, and changed in amazing ways.
My life of faith has been profoundly shaped by many people and in many places. As a young person, I found my spiritual life being influenced by the church family and friends I was always around. My church youth group provided many opportunities to study God’s Word, talk about what it means to be a Christian, and also to put our faith into action. Some of the most formational moments in my spiritual development were on service trips during school breaks to Staten Island to work with the homeless, hungry, and those suffering from HIV/AIDS. All of this set me on a very early path to ministry.
Throughout college, I struggled with my call to be a pastor. Having grown up as a pastor’s kid, I tried to avoid where I sensed God was pulling me, but when God has a desire for your life, it is hard to ignore! I spent six summers during and after college working at Camp Fowler in the Adirondacks, and then two years working in youth ministry before going to seminary at New Brunswick Theological Seminary in New Jersey. Following graduation from Seminary, I spent a year working as a Resident Chaplain at a Philadelphia Hospital, which taught me a lot about being a pastoral presence in times of grief and trauma.
In the few years following, I turned to teaching at a private Christian school in center city Philadelphia, where I taught tenth and twelfth grade English. During that time I was a part-time pastor of a small Reformed Church outside of Philadelphia. In that experience, I found myself drawn more and more to full time parish ministry. Since October of 2016, I have served as Pastor of Western Presbyterian Church in Palmyra, where I have continued to be challenged and stretched, finding fullness in this particular time and place of God’s family.
Sunday, Feb. 28, immediately following morning worship on Zoom:
The Session of Hamilton-Union Presbyterian Church calls for a meeting of the Congregation to hear and acton the report of the Pastor Nominating Committee.
Note: the PNC will be introducing the candidate to the congregation through a mailing/emailing as we draw closer to the date. There are also 3 “meet and greet” opportunities with our candidate available on Saturday, February 27. By now, you should have already received information about 2 Zoom calls scheduled for Saturday morning, 11:00-11:45, and late afternoon, 5:00-5:45. Participation is limited to 10 people per call and requires pre-registration. We will also have a “drive-in” outdoor meeting opportunity Saturday afternoon from 2:00-3:30, under a tent in the church parking lot (weather permitting.). Coffee, hot chocolate, cookies and a warming fire will be available.
Our candidate will be leading worship, via Zoom, on Sunday morning. The Congregational Meeting will be a continuation of the Worship Zoom. Those who do not have Internet access are invited to join the Zoom meeting and vote by using the phone number provided by Zoom (long distance charges may apply): 1-929-205-6099. Alternatively, you can call someone in the congregation who does Zoom, and ask them to put their phone near the computer so that you can hear. If you have questions about how best to connect with the meeting, please call, text or email Pastor Janice so we can assist you in getting connected.
Information on how to vote will be provided in the coming weeks.
December Pastor Nominating Committee Update:
The Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) has been quite active over the past month, interviewing candidates, contacting references, watching services and sermons online, and discussing our impressions of several fine candidates. While we are not, as of this writing, prepared to present a candidate to the congregation, we feel we are making good progress in our search and are hopeful that God will reveal His plan for us in His good time.
We thought it would be helpful to outline the coming process, as we see it now, with the caveat that we are, essentially, “breaking new ground.” We are the first congregation, at least in the Albany Presbytery, to be seeking and calling a new pastor in “the age of COVID.” That poses some new challenges and requires considerable flexibility and adaptation of the “rules” laid out for us in the 2015 manual “On Calling A New Pastor” provided to us by the Presbyterian Church USA (PC-USA) Church Leadership Connection (CLC) and Albany Presbytery. Fortunately, Albany Presbytery has so far been very understanding and willing to “flex” with us as we all feel our way forward.
- After diligently reviewing many pastor resumes, Zoom-interviewing, reference-checking, discussing and prayerfully seeking God’s guidance, your PNC will decide which candidate seems best for HUPC at this time.
- Albany Presbytery will coordinate background checks, interview the candidate and (hopefully) concur with our choice.
- The chosen candidate is then contacted by the PNC and invited to be the nominee presented to our congregation.
- Assuming the invitation is accepted, the PNC then negotiates the specific terms of call with the candidate, within the parameters previously provided by the Session.
- The PNC will also meet with the Session to discuss our work, provide information about the nominee we have chosen and why we chose this candidate to serve with us at Hamilton Union.
- Session is then responsible for scheduling and calling a congregational meeting to hear the report of the PNC, hear the pastor nominee preach and lead all or part of the worship service, vote on whether to concur with the report of the PNC to call the pastor and vote on the terms of call.
Traditionally, presentation and approval of a new pastor involves a happy gathering of the congregation and, of course, (as good Presbyterians) a wonderful welcome luncheon, fellowship time and chance for everyone to meet and greet our new Pastor. Sadly, COVID will force significant changes to all of that. We do not have formal plans as yet, but you can expect we will be Zooming, masking and maintaining our social distances.
As we move this process forward, every effort will be made to inform the entire congregation (and community) of our progress and plans using email, the church website and Facebook page, direct mailings and (perhaps) press releases to local media. We encourage all to keep an eye out for future announcements and be sure to participate with us as we embark on the next chapter of our journey of Christian discipleship together at Hamilton Union Presbyterian Church.
November PNC Update
Your Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) has been quite busy over the past month. We have continued to read and discuss Pastor Information Forms forwarded to us and have held several initial Zoom interviews with potential candidates. We are planning follow-up interviews shortly and are encouraged by the candidates we are interviewing and their interest in meeting and potentially serving with us.
While we do not yet have a timetable for completing our work, and having a candidate to present to the congregation, we are prayerfully hopeful that God will lead us to the person He has chosen for us.
The COVID situation we are all facing is creating some new challenges to the process of presenting a pastor candidate to the congregation and managing a congregational vote on that candidate. We are working closely with the Presbytery’s Committee on Missions and Congregations to determine how we can safely, responsibly, effectively and “legally” manage those important and necessary requirements.
October PNC Update
Your Pastor Nominating Committee is making good progress in our search for a new pastor. As reported last month, we completed work on our Ministry Information Form (MIF) which was subsequently approved by Session and the Albany Presbytery Committee on Mission and Congregations (COMAC). Our MIF was then sent to the Presbyterian “Church Leadership Connection” computer dating system in Louisville, KY and we promptly received over a dozen “matches” plus some “self-referrals” from ministers who saw our MIF and sent us their Pastor Information Forms (PIFs).
The PNC has been reading all the PIFs and individually ranking them as “Definitely interested”, “Maybe” or “No Thanks”. We have reached out to several candidates to see if they are interested in talking with us and hope to interview some this month.
In preparation for those interviews, the PNC has been developing and deciding on interview questions to ask each candidate. We have also tried to anticipate questions candidates may have for us about HUPC. Our Presbytery COMAC representative has scheduled a practice interview for us with a local pastor so we can test out and fine-tune our questions and interviewing approach.
Unfortunately, although not unexpectedly, we don’t have a timeline for finding and hiring our next pastor. However, we continue to seek God’s wisdom, guidance and mercy as we work through this important process. We appreciate the congregation’s continued patience and prayers and we assure you all that we are all working diligently and faithfully on our task.
Your Pastor Nominating Committee
September 9, 2020
The Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) is pleased to report that our Ministry Information Form (MIF) was reviewed and approved by the Session at its September meeting. Following procedure, our MIF was then sent to the Albany Presbytery Committee on Mission and Churches (COMAC), which also approved it. By the time you read this Update, the PNC will have submitted the MIF to the Presbyterian Church (USA) “Church Leadership Connection” (CLC…yes, they’re big on acronyms!) for computer matching, and may have started receiving Pastor Information Forms to review.
The Committee will be reading and discussing these Pastor Information Forms, discussing the candidates and identifying those we may want to interview (first by phone or Zoom). Pastors are apparently not notified by the CLC when their Information has been matched with churches seeking pastors, so we first need to reach out to them, invite them to check out our MIF and ask if they are interested in talking with us. Pastors can also look at church MIF’s on the CLC system, or may hear of our search “through the grapevine,” and self-refer to the PNC for our consideration.
Our current work is deciding on questions to ask potential candidates, and also preparing answers to likely questions candidates may have for us. With Zoom now common, first interviews will be very different since we can have face-to-face conversations instead of faceless conference calls. We ask for your continuing prayers for discernment and openness to hearing God’s call, for both the PNC and pastor candidates.
August 13, 2020
The Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) is continuing its work, focusing on preparing our input for the “Ministry Information Form” (MIF). As we’ve previously reported, this form describes who we are, what we do and what we are seeking in our next pastor. In early August, the PNC met, via Zoom, with the Session to present what we have drafted so far and seek their feedback and input. A good and lively discussion took place which provided the PNC with valuable input and suggestions as we continue to refine our MIF. Our hope is to complete our MIF and submit it to the Session in September for their final approval. Then it must be approved by the Albany Presbytery Committee on Missions and Congregations before it can be sent to the Presbyterian “computer dating service” in Louisville. Once that happens, we will start receiving “Pastor Information Forms” to review and begin considering potential candidates for our position. Please continue to keep your PNC in your prayers.
July 10, 2020
Your Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) has been (Zoom) meeting weekly to work on our Ministry Information Form (MIF). This is our self description and “help wanted” ad that will go into the Presbyterian Church’s job search and matching system. The form allows us to describe our mission and vision, how we work to carry out that mission, where we hope to go in the future, what characteristics and abilities we are looking for in a new pastor and what we see as the duties of our next pastor. The PNC expects to meet with the Session at their August meeting to present and discuss our draft MIF which must be approved by Session. Once approved by Session, our MIF must then be approved by the Albany Presbytery Committee on Ministers and Congregations (COMAC) before being submitted to the matching system. Lots of work before we even start to looking at pastor “resumes”. Please keep the PNC in your prayers as we continue our work on your behalf.
The HUPC Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) had our first Zoom meeting on Monday, May 11, 2020, with our two assigned members of Presbytery’s Committee on Ministers and Congregations (COMAC): Peggy Smith Savchik and Meg Knight. For the present, we will be meeting by Zoom every Monday night from 7 – 8:30 PM.
Our initial tasks are several:
- to establish a covenant with each other for working together and conducting our meetings
- to elect officers: chair/co-chairs, secretary, treasurer, Church Leadership Connection point person [CLC is a national database for churches and job-seekers in the PC(USA)], and a communications point person
- to set up an email account for the PNC
- to figure out how to use our church newsletter, our website, Presbytery and Synod resources, and local sources to best “get the word out” to you and to others
- to start to determine which (of MANY) criteria we will to use as criteria to search through the CLC computer database
Our committee, elected by you: Betty Deitz, Lindsay Hall, Charlotte Hasselbarth, Mark Hutchinson, Nancy Messersmith, Jean Michelle “Mickey” Nieman, Bruce Williamson