The Session of First Presbyterian Church approved the FPC Staff Team’s recommendation to employ The Rev. Dr. Walter Jones and The Rev. Dr. Dick Neelly as co-ministers to fill the ministry gap until an Interim Pastor can be identified and called.

Jones will fill the pulpit or arrange for guest preachers and preside over the day-to-day operations of the church. Neelly with handle visitation and congregational needs. Both will essentially work for free.  Jones has asked that money designated for his salary be given to the church’s new Matthew 25 initiative.  Neelly has asked that he receive no remuneration.

Session members expressed gratitude to both retired Presbyterian USA ministers for their willingness to provide their expertise and guidance in the coming months until an interim pastor is named.

Working closely with our church are new Cherokee Presbytery General Presbyter Wilson Kennedy and Presbytery Ministry Transitions Team liaison Gale Sandlin, who met with the Session last Sunday, July 17th.  Both emphasized that the Presbytery will continue to work closely alongside our church until a new minister is called and in place, a process that, on average, takes a year to 18 months.

The Staff Team will serve as the Search Committee for an interim minister.  A duly-elected by the congregation Search Committee will seek a permanent minister. In accordance with the Book of Order, a timeline for creating and launching the work of this second committee has not yet been established, but Session members expressed the desire to move along as quickly as feasible to begin the search process.