Session met on Sunday (1/15) to receive the unanimous recommendation of the search/transition team for youth and discipling.
The following is a summary of their recommendation approved unanimously by session:
The Minister for Youth/Discipling search team has been hard at work meeting and researching the best course of action for Our Family of Faith at First Presbyterian regarding the replacement for Jeremy Van Genderen.
The search team began meeting on Sunday mornings to discuss how to go about finding a new Youth Minister. Meetings were also held on Thursday evenings in order to develop a job description that would be used for the Interim Youth Minister as well as the permanent replacement.
David Bell, Chairman of the committee, expressed at one of the Thursday night meetings how his research stated that we shouldn’t forget to look at qualified people within our own congregation. The down time between replacements is shorter, disruption to the church and youth activities is minimized and often there can be a cost savings because expenses for relocation, housing, etc. are not needed.
Those at that particular Thursday night meeting then began thinking about who within our church family had the qualifications necessary to fulfill the position. Leslie Kopp’s name was suggested.
After discussions with both Pastor Bob and Leslie it was decided to have a few weeks of prayer to consider this option. The rest of the search team was then told at the next Sunday meeting what had transpired and was asked for their thoughts on the matter. Everyone was enthusiastic and were on board with Leslie being offered the Director of Christian Education position.
The team continued to meet to insure that every member of the committee had ample opportunity to voice their opinions, disagreements and/or concerns. It was decided that at the January 9, 2012 session meeting the committee chairman would formally submit Leslie Kopp’s name as a candidate for the Director of Christian Education.
It is important to note that Pastor Bob nor Leslie Kopp did not instigate or suggest this to the search team at any time. Only when approached did they then begin to pray and discuss the matter.
Leslie earned a master degree in education and has held several positions in youth ministry since 1984. Her easy and natural rapport with children and youth make her the ideal person for the job.
The session and search team formally interviewed and subsequently offered Leslie the Director of Christian Education position at a special session meeting held on Sunday, January 15, 2012.
These are exciting times in our church! God continues to bless Our Family of Faith and the addition of Leslie to the Director of Christian Education position will allow us to spread those blessings to the youth of Belvidere. Some of the upcoming items you will begin to hear about are interns to assist in youth activities. These interns will be hand-picked and trained by Leslie. Confirmation classes will be held for our youth with Pastor Bob beginning in March. Leslie will hold classes for the parents of the students in confirmation.
As always, we continue to honor, applaud, and affirm the work Jeremy has done to build our youth program and look forward to building upon the strong foundation he has left us with.
Certainly, while affirming Jeremy's call to Cedar Rapids, Iowa and continuing our appreciation of his life and ministry with us along with our affection for him, Jeanette, Bree, Kara, and Ben, we did not anticipate his call; and we had no inclination to disrupt our relationship. Indeed, with staff stability exceeding over seven years, we were, as some say, caught off guard and stunned.
Though we would have preferred Jeremy and his family stay with us for a few more decades, the search for someone to succeed him started; and the results are now announced.
Because Leslie has been a homemaker for over two decades, sacrificing vocation and income to be a stay-at-home mom with the boys, I have not considered her as a candidate for positions like this one; and, as noted, with our thanks to the Lord for Jeremy's ministry with us and no indication of any changes in his call with us, Leslie had dropped off my radar for consideration until brought to my attention by the team.
Confessionally, at first, I was hesitant; not because I had any doubts about Leslie's affection for the Lord and First along with His wherewithal to get the job done but because I was a tad selfish in thinking some may think I was trying to pull something. I just didn't want to deal with that kinda stuff; but pressed by a few folks on the search/transition team, I realized my reluctance was selfish, sinful, and not in His best designs for our family of faith at First.
With that said, I believe, from my experience of over 35 years, that we would be hard-pressed to find a more called, gifted, educated, caring, competent, and qualified person for this ministry.
I've been asked how I will relate to her as head of staff and, uh, you know...
I'm not sure.
Never been there or done that before.
Yet I know our Lord expects me to expand my wineskin as I call people to heed His call to the same.
Blessings and Love!