With great joy and excitement, the congregation voted overwhelmingly Sunday, April 7, 2018, to call The Reverend Emily Berman D’Andrea to be our next called Pastor/Head of Staff. Her first day at PPC will be May 30, 2017. Thanks be to God!
An Update from the Pastor Nominating Committee (March 2018)
Your eight-member Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) is making very good progress in its search for our next “called” senior pastor to be our head of staff at PPC. As we have informed you, the Presbyterian process is not fast, but it does afford us the chance to spend full weekends with candidates, provides opportunities for detailed interviews about theology and worship style, and gives chances to see candidates preach on Sunday mornings in neutral pulpits in the Washington metropolitan area. As you can probably tell by the fact that members of the PNC have been “missing” from many recent PPC Sunday worship services, the past couple of months has been a period of intense activity and discernment. The committee is working very well together. We are excited about where we are, about the quality of candidates that we are getting to know in person, and about the future of PPC. In the near future, we hope to be in a position to provide further specific details.
In the meantime, here are the general steps that will take place. During a worship service in the coming weeks, the PNC hopes to announce that we have a candidate that we believe God is calling to PPC and our Session (with 2-weeks notice) will specify a certain Sunday as the “Candidate’s Call Sunday.” This will be a very important day in the life of our church—a day all PPC members will want to be in church. The candidate will join us for our regular 11 am worship service that day and give their “candidate’s sermon.” At the conclusion of the service, the candidate will be dismissed from the sanctuary, the PNC will answer any questions from the congregation, and then the congregation will vote via secret ballot on whether to extend a call to the candidate. Assuming the vote is successful, the candidate will be welcomed back into the sanctuary and will be greeted by our congregation. At that point, the candidate will go back to their home church, inform them that they have received and accepted a call from PPC, and make plans to start work at PPC, probably a month or two later. We continue to ask for your prayers for our work and for PPC.
An Update from the Pastor Nominating Committee (January 2018)
Your Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) is continuing to make good progress in our search to call a new pastor to be our head of staff. We now have reviewed roughly 150 applicants and can report that there are many well-qualified candidates who have expressed strong interest in PPC. Your PNC is working hard to get to know a select group of these candidates better—a process that includes Skype video calls, watching video sermons, having discussions with candidates’ references, check-ins with presbytery officials, and invitations to spend weekends with the PNC in Potomac—including face-to-face interviews and opportunities for the candidates to preach in neutral pulpits in the greater Washington area. The PNC is confident that through this process, we will really understand the talents, religious skills, and compassion of these candidates, and will have a solid foundation for making a recommendation to the congregation. We know that the process can seem long, but we ask for your patience and also your prayers as we try to discern God’s will for PPC.
An Update from the Pastor Nominating Committee (November 2017)
The Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) now has reviewed submissions from more than 130 Presbyterian pastors from around the country. The committee continues to meet for about two hours every week and is heavily engaged in the discernment process. In recent weeks we have conducted video Skype interviews with leading candidates that have allowed us to get to know these pastors better. Jointly with them, we are exploring the Presbyterian process of a “call”—trying to discern God’s plan for PPC and God’s plan for these individuals. We are carefully checking references and look forward, at the proper time, to inviting a few top candidates to visit Potomac to have face-to-face meetings with our committee. Overall, we are very impressed with the quality of the candidates we are in conversation with. We continue to ask for the congregation’s prayers and support as we continue with our discernment process.
In the meantime, there are concrete things the congregation can do to help. First, be friendly to visitors. Candidates frequently visit churches that they are considering on Sunday mornings, so please go out of your way to welcome any visitors, tell them about PPC, and invite them to coffee hour. Let visitors see how friendly and welcoming PPC is! And second, it is important to maintain our church’s vitality. Attend worship service regularly. If you are contacted by the nominating committee about serving as a deacon or elder, say “yes”. Also, please look for ways to volunteer to keep our forward momentum going as a church—whether it be preparing a meal for one of the shelters we support, helping with holiday decorating, serving as an adult chaperone for our youth group, or helping to teach a Sunday School class.
An Update from the Pastor Nominating Committee (October 2017)
The PNC remains extremely busy reviewing pastor information forms (PIFs), listening to candidates’ sermons online, and trying to discern God’s plan for PPC. We now have received materials from about 115 candidates. Increasingly, the committee is being contacted by pastors and friends in Presbyterian and seminary circles who are bringing candidates to our attention and making recommendations and suggestions. The PNC continues to meet for approximately 2 hours every Monday evening, and has skipped only one week since we began meeting in May—the week of the 4th of July. The committee is now in the process of reaching out to interesting candidates and beginning video interviews via FaceTime and Skype to get to know them better. We are working diligently and prayerfully, and we ask for the prayers and support of the congregation.
An Update from the Pastor Nominating Committee (8/1/17)
Your Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) is pleased to report that our church’s Ministry Information Form (MIF) went “live” on July 31 on the Presbyterian Church USA’s Church Leadership Connection (CLC) web site—which serves as the job market for PCUSA pastors. Our form describes the qualities and spiritual vision that we are looking for as we seek to call a new head-of-staff pastor. Among the leadership competencies we highlight are: preaching and worship leadership, compassion, spiritual maturity, teacher, public communicator, decision maker, organizational agility, strategy and vision, interpersonal engagement, and motivator—many of the competencies that PPC members identified in the recent congregation-wide Holy Cow survey. We expect to receive dozens of applications from interested pastors in the coming weeks and will be rolling up our sleeves and reviewing their materials. It will be a busy August for your PNC.
An Update from the Pastor Nominating Committee (June 2017)
Your PNC has been off to an aggressive start by holding six meetings through June 12th, following our commissioning on April 30th. Our Presbytery liaison, Alison Bennett, has provided the training to acquaint us with the Presbyterian processes associated with the Theology of Call and EEO/Affirmative Action Policies. Furthermore, the PNC has come together as a group and has self-selected roles for its membership as follows: Co-Chairs – Gayle Goff and Jon Davies; Tech Lead – Gary Niskanen; Document Clerk – Arianna McFeaters; Editor – Bob Stow; Recording Secretary & Devotions – Marnel Williams; Corresponding Secretary – Amanda Kuhn; Communications – Rob Wescott.
We are working to generate our Ministry Information Form (MIF), which describes our church and its requirements for our new Pastor, Head of Staff. Our development of the MIF is informed by information and insights gained from the Transition Committee, results from our church’s “Holy Cow Survey,” and from the MIF generated by our prior PNC. Your PNC will develop the MIF as expeditiously as possible and, after approval by the session, will post it on the Presbytery website so that potential candidates nation wide will have access to our search needs. We continue to prayerfully ask for God’s guidance in this Call process and we ask for your prayers as well. God has a plan for PPC and we ask for God’s blessings and direction as we aggressively seek to pursue God’s Call to find our next Pastor, Head of Staff.
SEE BELOW FOR PNC MEMBER BIOS
Jon Davies, co-chair
Jonathan Davies and his wife, Heather, have been members of PPC since 2011. Jonathan and Heather have two children: Colin (13) and Corinne (9). Jonathan is originally from Danville, Pennsylvania, where he and Heather met in first grade. He professed faith in Christ early in his young adult life, and was active in his local church. Jonathan has lived in Pennsylvania and Ohio while attending college, graduate school, and law school. The Davies family moved to the area in 2008 and currently lives in Potomac. He has served PPC as a deacon, and is currently a member of the Fellowship Committee. Jonathan is a partner in the law firm of Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett, & Dunner, LLP, in Washington, D.C., where he practices intellectual property litigation, particularly in the pharmaceuticals and biologics industry areas. Jonathan is honored to be asked to serve on the PNC and looks forward to contributing to a very important decision in the life of our church.
Gayle Goff, co-chair
Gayle Goff Gayle Goff grew up in Miami, Florida. After graduate school and 8 years as a Navy wife, she began her own Navy career which, much to her surprise, would last over 30 years. She worked first as a technical expert measuring and controlling workplace chemical and environmental hazards. Later she served in a variety of healthcare management positions focusing on strategy development and execution. She and her husband, John Sohl, moved to Potomac in 1998 with their daughters Christa, Meili, and Lia and became members of PPC around 1989. The girls were active in PPC throughout their school years and greatly enjoyed the summer mission trips. At PPC Gayle has taught Sunday School, served on the education committee, and enjoyed summer mission trips. She is also a Stephen Minister and is actively involved in Project Shine. Having recently retired from full-time work, she is exploring options for the future and is delighted to have more time to serve at PPC.
Amanda Kuhn, Corresponding Secretary
Amanda Kuhn has been attending PPC with the rest of her family since she was born. She was confirmed at PPC in 2009. Amanda is the daughter of Wendy and Tom Kuhn and the sister of Victoria, Chandler, and Preston Kuhn. She grew up in the Potomac area and went to PPC until leaving to attend college at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In Pittsburgh, Amanda attended Bellefield Presbyterian Church. She was a member of PPC’s youth group growing up, and occasionally taught Sunday school classes and assisted at Vacation Bible School at PPC. She absolutely loved PPC’s mission trips and went on a total of four: Hammond, Indiana; Oak Hill, West Virginia; Hazard, Kentucky; and Bayville, New Jersey. In the past, she has worked as a swim coach for River Falls and interned at the NIH. Amanda also was a teacher’s assistant at Carnegie Mellon, and following graduation this year, will be working at the NIH in the Sleep and Neurodevelopment Section; and applying for medical school. Amanda is absolutely thrilled and honored to serve on the PNC, and has high hopes that this committee will work together to recruit an outstanding pastor!
Arianna McFeaters, Document Clerk
Arianna McFeaters was born in Wisconsin and grew up in Potomac attending PPC along with her siblings Melissa, Darcy and Derek. Her parents are Mary Margaret and Del Smith who have been active members of the church for 37 years; and her siblings, Melissa Conway (Roman and Blake) and Derek Smith are also members. Darcy is in the memorial garden. She was confirmed at the church and played clarinet for many years in PPC’s Jesus Birthday Band and on Christmas Eve. She was married in the church in 2004 to Jason McFeaters who became a member thereafter. Arianna and Jason have three sons Sebastian (10), August (7) and Dash (5) who were all baptized in the church and attend Sunday School classes and church. August sings in the children’s choir and Sebastian and Jason perform Christmas Eve. Arianna is the music teacher at the Primary Day School in Bethesda and has a private clarinet studio. Arianna earned a B.A. majoring in music from the College of William and Mary, a Master’s Degree in clarinet performance from the University of Michigan, and her teaching certification from Catholic University. When Arianna got the “call” she certainly felt “called” to serve on this committee and is grateful to be a part of this vital search. She is connected to the history of this church and thankful to be part of its future.
Gary Niskanen, Tech Lead
Gary Niskanen and his wife, Audra, have been attending PPC since 1980. Gary grew up in the Washington DC area. As a youth, he was confirmed at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Fort Washington, Maryland. Met his wife in 1980, and was married by PPC’s former pastor David Uhl in 1982. They have lived in North Potomac for 35 years. Gary became a member of PPC in 2001. Their son, Thomas grew up at PPC (now 27), and resides in Lancaster, California working as an aerospace engineer. Gary has served PPC as an Elder; Chairman of Property, Chief Usher; as well as served on several other committees which include Endowment, Property, and other special task projects, like the parking lot, church kitchen renovation, acoustic, to name a few. Gary enjoys his many different church activities because of the community and congregational spirit it fosters. As well, he enjoys golf, tennis, and a good hike. From a professional perspective, he is a Client Executive for AT&T Public Sector, and oversees the US Department of Transportations’ telecommunications and IT infrastructures for both mission support and the National Airspace Network for the FAA. Gary is honored to be asked to serve on the PNC and very much looks forward to being an integral part of one of the most important selections affecting the future of our congregation and church.
Bob Stow, Editor
Bob Stow has been a member of PPC since about 2001. His wife, Patricia of 43 years, was deceased in 2009. They raised three children, Timothy, Rebecca, and Stephanie, each married with their own children. As a result Bob has seven grand children ranging in ages from 4 to 18. Bob grew up in Westfield, Massachusetts, where he was an active youth, young adult, and member in the First Congregational Church of Westfield. He was married to his wife Patricia in 1966 between his first and second year of graduate school. He received a BS in Mechanical engineering at WPI, and two graduate degrees in Aeronautical & Astronautical engineering at MIT, following which he began a career in engineering and technology for a defense company in northern New Jersey. Bob and his wife were both very active and raised their family in the Ramsey Presbyterian Church in New Jersey for over 20 years. He served as a Deacon and co-superintendant with his wife in the youth Bible School program at Ramsey Presbyterian. After a corporate move from New Jersey to Potomac, Maryland in 1999, he and his wife joined PPC, and Bob has been an active participant at PPC for about 17 years. He has been an Elder, a Stephen Minister, and serves on the Worship Committee. He is currently a Stephen Leader in this important ministry. Bob is also active in the Men’s Bible Study, Wednesday morning Bible Study, Men’s book club, and PASTCF groups. Bob retired as a corporate executive from a large multi-national defense company in 2008, after a 40-year career in engineering and R&D technology development. Bob is humbled to be asked to serve on the PNC, and looks forward to supporting the selection of a new pastor for PPC, that will provide an excellent fit for PPC’s next chapter in our continuing growth as a community of faith.
Rob Wescott, Communications
Rob Wescott and his wife, Karen Wise, have been members of PPC since 1995. Their children, Emily and David, grew up at PPC and are now adults living in the area. Rob grew up in Gorham, Maine & Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. As a youth, he was confirmed at Gettysburg Presbyterian Church. He has served PPC as an elder and deacon; as chair of the mission committee, assisting with local and international charities; Rob also has joined PPC youth at a number of summer work camps as an adult leader. (Participating in work camp “skit nights” ranks among his favorite activities at PPC!) Rob served on a prior PNC at PPC in 2010-11, and currently serves as chair of PPC’s endowment committee, which oversees the church’s investment funds. He also enjoys participating in adult Sunday school. He has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania and is founder/president of Keybridge Research, an economic and public policy research firm in Washington, DC. He looks forward to bringing to the PNC his many years of experience recruiting highly skilled professional employees. Rob is humbled to be asked to serve on this PNC, and looks forward to helping to identify and call a well-qualified pastor who will be an inspiring spiritual leader at PPC.
Marnel Williams, Recording Secretary & Devotions
Marnel Williams came here in 1978 from Jamaica. She has been worshipping at Potomac Presbyterian Church since 1983. She is a lifelong Presbyterian worshipping in Jamaica at Carron Hall Presbyterian Church which has since been incorporated into the United Church of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. At Potomac, Marnel has been a member of the choir, served two terms as deacon, served on the Session, has been a Stephen Minister, and is an active member, assisting in most of the programs that our church participates in. She has chaired the Komen National Race for Cure, assisted in Christmas in April, Habitat for Humanity, Sophia’s House and other mission projects. Marnel promises to do her very best for the members of the congregation as a member of the Pastor Nominating Committee.