INTERIM PASTOR'S MANUAL by Alan G. Gripe ($19.95)*

WJK: 0-664-50002-1

This revised edition of Alan Gripe's book on the responsibilities of interim pastors is a guide through the problems and possibilities of interim ministry in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Full of biblical and theological insight as well as practical wisdom, this book is built on personal experience and grounded in the theology and polity of the Presbyterian Church.

Five tasks of the interim pastor are identified:

"Several changes in the life of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have called for this revised edition of Tbe Interim Pastor's Manual. Among the more significant developments are changes in the Book of Order regarding the practice of interim ministry, continued growth in the number of churches employing interim pastors, an increasing number of pastors who are interested in this field of service, and continued development and refinement of the understanding of the art of interim leadership. The Book of Order provisions for interim co-pastors and interim associate pastors were added as the need to expand the possibilities for interim service became apparent to the church. Experience in several presbyteries led to another amendment to the Book of Order to prohibit an interim pastor from being called to be the next installed pastor, copastor, or associate pastor of a church where that person had served as interim pastor. In light of these changes, I have extensively revised, reorganized, and rewritten this edition to reflect the Book of Order amendments and current interim leadership practices in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

"Since the publication of the earlier edition, I have myself become an interim pastor and have served five churches in this role, which also prompted numerous changes in the text. I have kept in touch with the national and local professional organizations of interim pastors, both Presbyterian and ecumenical. I continue to consult with individual interim pastors, with presbytery leaders, and with many of the leaders of interim training programs in presbyteries, synods, and General Assembly. All these relationships have provided the knowledge, energy, and enthusiasm that have made this revised edition possible. I would like to express particular gratitude to the interim pastors in the Genesee Valley Presbytery Interim Gathering whose thoughtful support and encouragement have nourished and guided me along the way for nearly five years.

"Since the first publication more than ten years ago, the number of pastors serving in interim ministries has increased at least five-fold. Training programs have flourished; those at Ghost Ranch and Montreal have been filled to overflowing every year. The General Assembly's Office of Certification and Accreditation has worked with leaders of the Association of Presbyterian Interim Ministry Specialists and others to develop a program for certifying intentional interim pastors, which it administers from the headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky.

"In spite of the increasing number of quality Presbyterian and ecumenical interim pastor training programs now available throughout the country, there is still a shortage of intentional trained interim pastors. There is an even more acute shortage of certified interim pastors. One result is that trained interim pastors are seldom unemployed. Another result is that churches often are forced to employ temporary pastors who lack an understanding of or training in interim ministry. This has led to some unfortunate experiences in a number of presbyteries, when temporary pastors have overlooked or misunderstood the dynamics and needs of the congregations they were serving. The information here attempts to remedy such problems, but the most effective response to the needs of the church today is for all interim pastors to complete the full sixty-hour training program offered by the General Assembly and by some synods and seminaries.

"This manual was originally developed for the Joint Task Force on a More Effective Placement System of the Presbyterian Church in the United States and The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. It was designed for four audiences: the interim pastor, the session, the congregation, and the presbytery committee on ministry. Others who are likely to find it useful are members of presbytery or synod staffs whose tasks relate to the leadership of congregations. Some sections deal with matters of greater concern to one of these audiences than to the others. It will be beneficial, however, for each group to understand all aspects of interim service.

"Sessions exploring whether or not to seek an interim pastor will be interested in chapter 1, especially the sections that deal with choosing the right option and that list some advantages of interim ministry. Sessions seeking or negotiating with an interim pastor will want to give special attention to chapter 3, the section titled "How Does a Church Find an Interim Pastor?"; chapter 4, the sections on contracting and covenanting; Appendixes A, C, and D; and chapter 5. Persons who are considering becoming an interim pastor may want to begin by reading the first four chapters and chapter 11. Key members of the committee on ministry will want to be familiar with the entire manual.

"A variety of special resources, ideas, examples, and models are included. Except for the quotations from the Presbyterian Book of Order, the entire manual is to be understood as advice and counsel, and each presbytery is free to establish its own policies and procedures. Relevant passages from the Book of Order are quoted or noted throughout the text. Every clerk of session and every interim pastor should keep a current copy at hand. Significant changes occur nearly every year. And congregations, sessions, and ministers should remember that specific guidance from presbytery will of course always supersede any advice offered in this manual.

"It is desirable for each presbytery to approve formally a presbytery policy and procedure to guide the committee on ministry, sessions, and interim pastors. Many have already done so. It is hoped that this manual will be helpful in preparing such a policy statement.

"Advocacy for the wide use of interim pastors and a desire to recruit more and better qualified persons to undertake this type of specialized ministry are additional reasons for preparing this manual. Presbyteries and synods themselves need to recognize why interim ministries are of critical importance to our church today. Further, governing bodies should have data available in concise and persuasive form to present to sessions the reasons for empitying qualified interim pastors when they are needed.

"Pastors themselves should understand both the opportunity and the challenge in serving as an intentional interim pastor. More qualified persons of all ages are needed who are willing to polish the special skills required for this particular ministry. Above all, recognition needs to be given to those pioneers in this field whose devotion to the church has inspired them to endure the difficulties that interim service sometimes imposes.

"I am excited about the possibilities for this manual and feel sure it will be used by interim pastors, by churches thinking about calling interims, and by the faculty of the training experiences at the denominational level, the synod level, and the presbytery level." --Donna Cook, Associate for Certification, National Ministries Division of the PC(USA)

"This expanded and updated edition of Alan Gripe's groundbreaking book promises to be a helpful guide to interim pastors. Using recent contributions to the field, Gripe presents the unique tasks and opportunities of interim work as occasions for congregational growth and development. This book will also be invaluable to sessions and congregations as they seek to discover what to expect during periods of pastoral transition." --Carolyn J. Jones, Executive Presbyter, Washington Presbytery

ALAN G. GRIPE is a minister of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and an interim ministry specialist.

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