Week of September 25, 2013

Mark DeVriesMy Dear Friends,

In July 2014, I will have served as your youth pastor for exactly 1/2 of my life. That month will mark the end of my 28th year on the staff of our marvelous church family.

This has been a place that has (very!) patiently taught me to be a pastor, a place that shaped (and continues to shape) all of our children’s lives with a vibrant faith and a place that has given me extraordinary freedom to grow, innovate and dream about what the future of this 2,000-year experiment called “the church” might be.

I have had the best seat in the house at so many of your weddings and baptisms, and I have had the tender, incomparable privilege of walking with you through days of deep sadness, loss and tragedy as well. We hope to spend the rest of our lives repaying the debt of thanks we owe to our church family, and it would never come close to compare with all you have given us.

So it is with a heart full of gratitude that I let you know today about our plans for our next chapter, a chapter we have playfully referred to as “the last lap” of vocational ministry.

As of July 31, 2014, I will be stepping down from my role as the Associate Pastor for Youth and Their Families.

In order to give the new youth pastor as much freedom as possible to lead, unencumbered by the presence of a long-term predecessor, we will be taking a one-year break from involvement at First Pres, starting August 1, 2014.

At the end of that time (August 1, 2015), if it seems wise to the Session, to Todd, to the youth staff and to my bride for us to return to serve as an unpaid associate pastor at FPC, I will be thrilled to do so. Though the scope of the role is yet to be defined, I would work with Todd to determine how I might be most helpful to the church, with the understanding that I would not be returning to my previous role in the youth ministry.

What does this change mean for the next chapter of our youth ministry?

We will begin the search immediately for a full-time, seminary-trained youth pastor to lead our marvelous youth ministry team. It is our hope that this person would begin July 1, 2014, and I would work alongside him or her for a month to help ensure continuity and as smooth a transition as possible.

At this point, though one or two of our staff members may be heading off to seminary in the fall, it is our hope that most of our marvelous staff will remain in place at least through the summer of 2015 (and hopefully for a decade or so longer!).

I have often said that, although I’ve been around awhile, my real title should have been “Interim Associate Pastor.” For these 27 years, my role has been to steward the church’s generous and wide-reaching vision for the next generation and to prepare our youth and their families to be led by the next “interim” who will come after me.

Of course, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me any time (mdevries@fpcnashville.org or on my cell at 615/424-2304).

Though First Presbyterian Church has a long and rich history, especially when it comes to youth ministry, I am convinced that our best years are still ahead of us.

Gratefully,

Mark DeVries

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