Sheryl Taylor is a woman on a mission.
As Grace Presbytery’s director of vocations, she is charged with the responsibility for the Irving, Texas-based presbytery’s Committee on Ministry (COM) and Committee on Preparation for Ministry (CPM). Taylor arrived here with the ambitious goal of helping fill nine of the presbytery’s dozen or so vacant positions.
“At any given time, probably about a fourth of our presbytery’s 175 churches are in some stage of search,” Taylor said. “We are grateful that the General Assembly Face-to-Face gives us the opportunity to get to know potential candidates up close and personal so that we can commend them to our churches.”
Face-to-Face, which has been held here at the General Assembly July 2-7, is an interactive and cost-effective way for churches and church entities seeking a church professional — or professionals — seeking a call to meet and attend to the leading of the Holy Spirit, as everyone considers whether there is a potential for a call to minister together. Sponsored by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Church Leadership Connection, Face-to-Face allows for personal connections to be made between pastor nominating committees, search committees, COM liaisons, presbytery and synod leaders, ministers of Word and Sacrament, candidates and Christian educators.
By the time she returns home, Taylor will have completed a total of 18 interviews at this, her third Face-to-Face. “These are all solid candidates and ministers open to God’s leading,” she said. “It was a delightful surprise to find such a large pool of quality people here.”
Taylor has been grateful for the help of several members of Grace Presbytery’s COM, who are here as alternate commissioners to General Assembly. Because the presbytery assumes half of the cost for its alternates, who will serve as commissioners at the next assembly, to come to the assembly and learn, it was the suggestion of the Rev. Jan DeVries, Grace Presbytery’s new general presbyter, that they also assist Taylor.
“I give Jan all the credit for this idea, which allows those who are seeking positions to tell the churches that they have met with people from our COM,” Taylor said. “The presbytery is very excited at her arrival.”
Taylor said she was pleased to learn that the forms her CPM uses are now available online and that they can be customized by each presbytery, she said.
The Rev. Timothy Cargal, interim associate for Preparation for Ministry/Exams for the PC(USA), here with other colleagues from the Office of Vocation to provide resources and opportunities for Assembly participants, said that this was a significant step forward.
“A priority request of the CPMs for the past four years has been to revise and make available in a digital format all the various forms used as applications and reports in the preparation for ministry process,” said Cargal. “We are thrilled to be able to help them to expedite their important work by offering these tools online through our newly launched website.”