Westminster Presbyterian Church of Charlottesville, VA (PCUSA) seeks an Associate Pastor for University and Social Justice Mission. We stand ready to welcome an innovative and compassionate minister to join our Head of Staff and our Associate Pastor for Christian Formation in leading a diverse and inclusive 600-member church founded in service to the University of Virginia (UVA). Our congregation values intellectual and theological curiosity, community activism, justice work and witness, and environmental stewardship. This position requires a gifted media communicator and public speaker, as well as a pastoral advisor attuned to the particular needs and hopes of university students and faculty. This person must possess an eagerness to work toward ecumenical and multicultural partnerships within the larger community. Westminster enjoys a beautiful and historic setting in view of the Blue Ridge Mountains and adjacent to UVA, a UNESCO World Heritage site designed by Thomas Jefferson. We encourage recent seminary grads and those recently or soon-to-be ordained to apply. Learn more about us, email us here and view a detailed job description here.
Several weeks ago in worship, Gene Locke and Dick Redding spoke movingly about the importance of supporting outreach from our congregation to the community and wider world through benevolence and social justice activism. One of the most important ways Westminster has reached out to our community since our founding more than 75 years ago has been through University mission.
Earlier this year, after a period of discernment extending back to Jim Baker’s retirement and Laura Sugg’s call to Wheat Ridge Presbyterian Church in Colorado, Westminster’s Session concluded our congregation was ready to call two associate pastors, Lynne Clements and a second associate pastor for University ministry and social justice work. With Presbytery’s approval, our congregation elected an associate pastor nominating committee (the “APNC”) on June 10, 2018 to search for that second associate pastor whom God is calling to serve with us.
The APNC, comprised of Winston Barham, Taylor Beard, Susie Bruce, Kathy Redding, Heather Warren, Ken Young, and Ron Wiley, has been working since then. The committee has met ten times and continues to meet twice monthly. We are pleased to inform the congregation that our Ministry Information Form (MIF) has been posted and we have begun a national search for this position. If you simply click on the links provided in this article, you can read over the MIF and job description.
The APNC anticipates many potential candidates will contact the committee through the Church Leadership Connections system. The committee also will advertise the position in various progressive Presbyterian publications and, probably, through social media. The committee certainly will welcome referrals of interested candidates.
The APNC has great faith (and some trepidation!) many well-qualified candidates will apply and the committee’s difficult mission will be to discern the one God is truly calling to serve with us here at Westminster in reaching out to the University, community, and world. The committee believes this opportunity, as envisioned in the MIF and detailed in the position description, will be very attractive to candidates seeking a called position. The APNC prays we may discern God’s call in a candidate who will help Westminster for many years continue to find its way home to our University and social justice mission. The committee expects that prayerful discernment of whom God is calling to take several months. Keep us in your prayers.
Ron Wiley, Associate Pastor Nominating Committee, Chair
As I begin writing this e-News article, it is with a heavy heart. I suppose, with the dawning of a new year, I should be more optimistic and full of vigor in light of the challenges of 2017. But yesterday, after getting word that Peter Ham had passed away, I felt like a balloon rapidly deflating, losing its air, the hiss of escaping breath. So, as I enter into 2017, my feelings are a mixture of gladness and sorrow. After all, in my two pastoral visits to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital to visit with Peter and Karen, I discovered a kindred spirit. Peter and I talked about the places we both visited in Alaska, the movies we loved, and music we listened to in our growing up years. On my second visit, I brought my guitar and sang a few songs. Peter told me the music helped him forget where he was. I sang some Kenny Loggins tune while doctors, nurses, family, and technicians filled the small room. We said a prayer together and I left hoping to see Peter again . . . and some day, I will. As I reflect on my all too brief relationship with Peter Ham, the words of Ecclesiastes 3:1-9 come to mind:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
As we embark on this new year, crafting our resolutions and plans, let’s not overlook or forget the contributions of people who have touched our lives. Remember, we are who we are because someone listened, nurtured, and encouraged us to follow our dreams. We can never underestimate how another person’s actions and words shaped and molded us. Peter Ham was one of those guiding lights. But there are others who have also “fought the good fight and finished their race” (see 2 Tim. 4:7). Certainly, Martin Luther King Jr. left a legacy for us to follow. Who gave you the strength to carry on? Who inspired you to love and care for those around you? Who helped you find God? As we enter into this new year, give thanks to God for that special person and be glad. For like the wise words of Ecc. 3 ff. state clearly: “there is a time to weep and time to laugh; a time to mourn and time to dance.” Thank you, Peter. Thank you for giving us your time. Ken
Last week, as I was tapping out my sermon, I lifted my head and noticed where I was. I was in a student study carrel over in Alderman Library. But when I took note of my environment more carefully, I began reading all the student graffiti scrawled around me. Several anxiety-ridden UVA students had sat where I now sat. Writing papers and studying for exams, he or she had written (in pen and pencil and carved into wood and cinder block) existential musings. So, I composed this student psalm using their words:
Student Graffiti in a UVA Study Carrel
I need drugs.
I want nachos.
Why hast thou forsaken me?
Get busy living or get busy dying that why I’m busy studying.
God, I love physics.
I just want to graduate.
I’m here more than any other place.
Next year will be better, I hope.
Dear future UVA students who seek hope
Within the premise of this seat-
Good luck. You are going to need it.
Don’t forget to pray for our college students as they take exams and prepare for life.