By Paul Lewis (on behalf of the Interim Search Committee)
The old adage says, "Good things come to those who wait." The Interim Pastor Search Committee thinks we will find it true of our experience as we welcome to the pulpit this Sunday our interim pastor to be, Brett Younger. As interim pastor, Dr. Younger will preach every Sunday, including Second Sunday Vespers, work closely with the staff, write regularly for the newsletter, and be available to meet with the Pastor Search Committee as needed. He is also willing to teach an occasional Sunday School class when invited. He will be with us until we issue a call to a new pastor, except for pre-existing commitments the rest of July, August 19, and all of February 2013. He will not be a candidate for pastor.
One reason for that is that Dr. Younger already has a day job at Mercer University's McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta, where as Associate Professor of Preaching, he teaches courses in preaching, worship, and writing. Before coming to McAfee, Dr. Younger served as a pastor for twenty-two years in Texas, Kansas, and Indiana, most recently at Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth. He has also served several churches as interim pastor/preacher, most recently at First Baptist Church in Wilmington (I can tell you, he is quite excited about having a shorter commute now!).
You may already be familiar with his work from reading his columns in Baptists Today, some of which have been collected and published as The Lighter Side: Serving Up Life Lessons with a Smile and Who Moved My Pulpit? In addition, he and his wife Carol have co-authored Mark: Finding Ourselves in the Story. He has also written for the Formations Commentary, as well as articles and sermons that have appeared in a variety of journals and periodicals. You can read Dr. Younger's blogs at peculiarpreacher.com.
Dr. Younger received his B.A. in religion from Baylor University, and his M.Div. and Ph.D. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Brett and Carol (also a graduate of Baylor and Southern) have two sons, Graham, a student at the University of Georgia Law School, and Caleb, a student at Georgetown University.
How did we arrive at Dr. Younger? We're glad you asked! According to the church by-laws, the Pulpit Supply Committee is responsible for filling the pulpit when there is a vacancy. Since an interim is a different kind of vacancy than normal, we consulted with the deacons and others to try to recreate the process from our last interim, fifteen years ago.
To create the Interim Pastor Search Committee, we added several members to the Pulpit Supply Committee so that we would have a group that represented the congregation as a whole. Early in the process, we decided that Highland Hills would best benefit by having a non-member serve as interim pastor, even though we have many capable preachers in our midst. There are two reasons for this. First, having the perspective of an "outsider" can be extremely helpful as a church gets its bearings during an interim. Second, it is often difficult for a church member to make the transition from member to such a significant leadership role and back again.
We also knew that HHBC historically and rightfully asks for high quality sermons and worship leadership. With that in mind, we began to solicit recommendations, listen to sermons, talk with potential candidates, and get references. Many people, it turned out, were not available-including Dr. Younger at first. However, as we were developing a new list of potential candidates, we learned that his tenure at FBC Wilmington was about to end and so began serious conversations. As we talked with him, our committee unanimously agreed that he was worth waiting for. His candidacy and terms of call have been approved by the deacons.
Yes, it has taken more time than we anticipated when we first began our search for an interim pastor. As a committee, we are grateful for your patience as a congregation. We also are indebted to the many church members who have been willing to share their gifts with us as they have more than capably filled the pulpit these last few months.
One thing our committee has learned in this process is that Highland Hills is a congregation that affirms that good things come to those who wait. We're glad we waited, and we know you will be, too.
The Interim Pastor Search Committee:
Marty Leverett, Chair; Ben Bridges, Rachel Greco, Rachel Huston, Jean Keene, Paul Lewis, with Jim Netherton, ex officio