Where is Pastor Philip going?
On 29 March, Pastor Philip was called and accepted the Senior Pastor position for Moody Church in Chicago. We strongly believe that as God provides a new opportunity for the Miller family, He is providing a tremendous opportunity for our Westwood family. We are excited for the weeks and months ahead as we pray and seek the Lord for the future and fruitfulness of His ministry here at Westwood Baptist Church.
Will we be able to say goodbye to the Miller family?
Pastor Philip’s last sermon was delivered online on 26 April. The family’s plans are to sell their house over the next few months and then begin at Moody Church on 1 July. It is our intent to honor the Miller family as a congregation before they leave. We also encourage you to thank them personally by telephone or written note.
How will Westwood move forward during this time without a Senior Pastor?
We are confident that God will provide direction and resources in the coming months. He has been faithful to the people of Westwood for many years. Please pray for our leaders as they continue to answer God’s call here. We believe that it is in these times that we can trust God to uphold us as we grow in faith and Christlikeness.
What will happen for the preaching at Westwood?
Pastor Philip’s last sermon was 26 April. Moving forward, we will continue to offer our church service online each week with Jared Harrington and Jon Cardona as our primary preachers. We expect this schedule will continue through the summer. In addition, we may have the opportunity to have other pastors preach on occasion.
What will the process be and when will Westwood call a new Senior Pastor?
We want to spend time praying and seeking God’s heart for the direction and vision of Westwood before we begin this process. It is important that we do not start making decisions until we put this before the Head of the church, Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:17:18a). We also desire for the congregation to provide us feedback as we go through the process. We welcome your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. We may also use surveys and interviews to get input from you in the coming months. It is our belief that a Transitional Pastor is appropriate and would allow us to lay a strong foundation for a permanent Senior Pastor in the future. We believe that a Transitional Pastor may be hired by the fall and that a Senior Pastor search could start next year. God is leading us to go slow, wait on Him, listen, and ensure we fully understand His desire for Westwood.
We have heard about a multi-phase process to hire a permanent Senior Pastor, can you explain?
We have sought counsel and prayed for wisdom in the way to move forward. We believe that it may consist of at least 3 phases.
Phase I: Seeking discernment, praying, facilitating a congregation-wide survey, conducting additional interviews, and desiring to answer four key questions:
- What are the real issues?
- What are God’s solutions?
- Who are God’s leaders?
- What are God’s plans?
Phase II: Implementing a plan to employ a Transitional Pastor and seek to resolve the 4-5 identified core issues. We expect to conduct regular Town Hall meetings, host a Re-visioning meeting with the congregation, and facilitate opportunities to reconcile and build the foundation for a Senior Pastor search.
The Phase II Objective is completion of the implementation plan, a revised vision for Westwood, and resolving issues from Phase I. This objective is condition-based so it may be completed quickly or it may take several months. When it is complete, we are ready to start Phase III – Senior Pastor Search.
Phase III: A Senior Pastor Search will include forming the search committee, identifying the critical characteristics of the next senior pastor, determining the methodology of the search, filtering resumes, conducting interviews, reviewing sermons, evaluating applicants and candidates, setting up conference calls, visitation, and recommending a candidate to the congregation.
The Phase III Objective is to successfully select and present a qualified candidate to the full elder council and congregation.
What about governance at Westwood?
Our elder council is taking a more active role in the operational and staff decisions at Westwood. Tom Hill is the Executive Director and will continue to lead the pastors and staff in close collaboration with the elder council. The elders now attend additional weekly meetings with the Executive Director and pastors.
What will happen with the Westwood elders?
We did not have anyone apply to be an elder for fiscal year 2020-2021. After prayer on this issue, we believe God wants us to continue another year with the current slate of six elders. At the Annual Business Meeting, we will ask that you affirm all the current elders and once again set aside the bylaw requirement for a “minimum of 9 elders”.
How will the elders communicate with the congregation during this time?
We intend to use a variety of communication methods: website, emails, postal mail, and telephone. Our intent is to be transparent and to encourage your input. The elders are part of the shepherding and communication plan for the entire church. Each elder has been assigned a region and has enlisted the help of several missional community leaders to maintain telephone contact with members and attendees. We want to use this method of communication to address any problems and to find ways to assist you during the Stay Home mandate and beyond.
When can we meet again for worship services and fellowship at Westwood?
As Christians, we need the fellowship of other believers, Hebrews 10:24-25. We want to gather and encourage each other face-to-face. However, we also want to follow the orders of the State of Washington and Thurston County. As of June 5, our plan is to begin re-gathering for worship on July 12, with social distancing restrictions. More detailed information can be found in the chart below. Those most vulnerable will be encouraged to watch online for some weeks before gathering to ensure their health and safety. We are prepared to adjust our schedule as needed as we hear more from authorities. Our goal as we do this is to create a safe and healthy environment as we restart church and activities at 333 Kaiser Rd.
How will we run Church meetings and Question and Answer sessions?
Our intent is to follow the State’s and Thurston County’s directives on Staying Home and maintaining social distance. For the most part, we have switched all weekly staff and elder meetings to video conference calls. Our intent is to run our church meetings using a combination of video technology (livestream, Zoom) and telephones. We realize that some of our members do not have access or expertise with online technology so we will use telephone calls and postal mail to ensure all our members and attendees can participate.
Are we continuing to meet the needs in our community during this closure?
One of the things we have done as a result of Coronavirus is to personally contact our members and attendees. In the last month, we have assigned elders and other leaders with a contact list of members and attendees to touch base with periodically. They have the honor to call people, encourage them, see how they are doing, and pray with them. This means someone should be calling you. If you have not been contacted, please let us know. We continue to deliver wood, provide benevolence funds, assist the homeless shelter, and be the church to our neighbors. We have several people that are available to help if you need it. We can assist with work around the home, grocery shopping, or other tasks as needed.
Are we able to continue to pay the pastors and staff during this season?
We are committed to paying the pastors and staff through this season. Some of them are working from home while some (essential services) are going in periodically to check the buildings and do essential functions (e.g., worship and payroll). In some cases, we have asked people to temporarily work in areas they were not originally hired for. This allows everyone to contribute in a meaningful way during this period.
How can we ensure that our tithes and giving are received by the church?
This is a new situation and for many it requires a different way of giving to the church. If you are able to use online giving, this greatly helps. Other methods include setting up payment directly from your bank, sending your check through postal mail, or dropping the check in an envelope at the church office. Please let us know if you need an addressed and stamped envelope.
How is Westwood doing financially?
The church budgeted $1.89 M for this fiscal year. On 1 April, with two months remaining, our income was at $1.7 M. We expect to end this year at approximately $1.85 M in income. However, we realize that the departure of our Senior Pastor and the current Stay Home policy may adversely affect our income for April and May. We have restrictions in place to ensure we do not spend more than our tithes and giving.
Are we looking at the CARES Act?
The CARES Act was approved by the Federal Government and has provisions to give grants to churches and non-profit organizations during the coronavirus time period. This Act was put in place to help pay salaries, compensation, and utilities through May 2020. The elders are prayerfully considering this for a segment of our requirements. Our intent is to ensure that any grant we take would not require us to follow a future Government policy that may be against our values and declaration of faith. Please pray as we work through this option.
How can we pray?
Please pray for the elders, pastors, and staff as they seek to lead the body of Westwood to follow Jesus each day. Pray for healing and reconciliation in the body of Westwood in preparation for bringing a new Senior Pastor. Pray that we continue to trust in God and His faithfulness. This November, we celebrate the Jubilee year (50th year) of Westwood. Please pray that it would indeed be a jubilant year as we forgive every debt we hold against each other, allow Jesus to cut off the chains that hold us in bondage, and recognize the mercies of God raining down over Westwood. (Leviticus 25)