Calling Ashley Popperson as a Settled Associate Minister

Dear Old South Church,

Since Katherine Schofield's departure in December, Council has been hard at work. We've been working to achieve the important goal of having a stable ministerial team of three settled pastors. After several years of major transitions, I believe the congregation is eager for a time of consistent leadership. There are two important, interconnected paths for achieving this. The first is to call Ashley Popperson to a settled role. And the second is a national search for a settled pastor for Katherine's position.

Calling Ashley Popperson as a Settled Associate Minister
Ashley is currently serving as a Designated Term Pastor, meaning that she has been serving on a contract basis, with her contract set to expire later this year. Designated Term Pastors often become settled pastors at the church they serve. Their contract periods offer a long and detailed opportunity for both candidate and congregation to assess if there is a good fit for settled ministry. Over the past few months, Council has prayerfully considered Ashley's role in the congregation. Following a unanimous vote, Council is excited to present her to the Congregation at our March 3 rd annual meeting for a vote to call her to a settled position. During her time, Ashley has demonstrated her many gifts for pastoral ministry. She is a gifted worship leader, with strengths in a biblical preaching. She is also a creative and collaborative colleague, a warm and caring pastor, and someone with deep wisdom about people and a heart for the church. She also brings a unique background of skills and connections in urban ministry and a talent for helping those in need connect to social services. With over ten years of experience as a pastor, Ashley is an invaluable member of the pastoral team. I am thrilled that she has sensed a call to serving here at Old South as a settled Associate Minister. I enthusiastically join Council in inviting the congregation to call Ashley to serve as a settled Associate Minister at our congregational meeting on March 3rd. You are also invited to an information session on February 25th, at either 10am or 12:15pm, to learn more about the Council's process and recommendation to the congregation.

Forming a search committee for a third Settled Pastor
Following Katherine's departure, Council also prayerfully engaged questions around the needs of the congregation for the coming years. There was a clear sense from the Council that the church is in need of a third settled pastor. There are a variety of gifts that the church would seek in a third settled pastor. One of our most central prayers for this search process is that we might find a candidate who can expand the racial diversity of our pastoral team. A diverse pastoral team is important to the congregation's goals of expanding the diversity of the congregation itself. The Leadership Committee has been charged by Council to form a search committee, so that we can begin formal work on our search process expeditiously. The work of gathering a search committee is important, and I encourage members of the congregation to consider whether you are feeling a call to serve on such a committee. If you would like to self-nominate, please reach out to David Becker or Randy Billings. One major question that people often have is "how long will it take?" In the United Church of Christ, a national search normally takes the better part of a year from the time of the formation of a search committee to when a pastor begins serving. It is my hope that a third settled pastor might begin their call here at Old South in early 2025.

In these first months of my time as Senior Minister and CEO of Old South, I've been inspired by the congregation's dreams for where we are called to go next as a congregation. I've heard the deep love that people have for this community as well as a desire to be closer to one another. I've seen the deep appreciation we have for the justice-making legacy of this place as well as a hunger to write new chapters in our history that live up to the examples of our forebears. I've also seen a real joy in welcoming new members into the community and a desire that Old South grow our membership in a city hungry for spiritual connection and the gospel. We have big dreams and big hearts! 2024 will be a year of transformation for Old South.

With love for the people of the church,

John Edgerton
Senior Minister and CEO
Old South Church in Boston