Managing the Senior Pastor Transition Process
at Harmony Hill Baptist Church
In November of 2022, Pastor John W. Greene will cross the 50-year mark at Harmony Hill Baptist Church. Throughout that time the Lord has worked mightily through his leadership here on The Hill, having a kingdom impact from Lufkin and reaching around the globe. In 2021 he commissioned the Elder Team to begin planning for an eventual transition. He wants nothing but the best for each individual who calls Harmony Hill their home church.
It is the desire of the Elder Team to walk the church through the transition of Pastor John Greene serving as the Senior Pastor to the next era of ministry here on The Hill. It is the intention of the Elder Team to not only oversee the process with Pastor John through this time, but also with his wife, Kathryn. It is the stated desire of Pastor John and Kathryn to remain active in ministry here on the Hill after the transition – albeit in different roles.
Let us all seek to care deeply for them during this time. Let us consider the best interests of the ministry of the church here on The Hill and in everything we do related to the transition process, may we bring honor and glory to God.
This page is the place to visit and stay current on all things related to the transition. As the plan rolls out, you will be able to see the updates posted here.
- April Update – Summary
- Dec 5 Transition Update – Summary
- Emergency Succession Plan – What is it and why do we need it?
It is the desire of the church to keep you informed about the progress of the eventual transition of Pastor John & Kathryn. We want everyone to join us on this journey and ask you to keep this matter in prayer. It is very rare to have a pastor in one place for 50 years and even more rare when it is his only pastorate. The impact of a transition can be significant and therefore, it is imperative that we remain unified because of our desire to glorify God in our actions.
There are 3 things that we would like to update you on related to the transition.
- Based on historical precedence and the guidelines of the bylaws, the Elder Team will be leading in the search process for the next Lead Pastor. This search will include both internal and external candidates, exhausting internal candidate options before proceeding to do a nationwide search, as deemed appropriate by the Elder Team.
- To provide stability in the transition season and for years to come, the Elder Team is working with staff and church members on 3 strategic projects as part of this transition.
- First, we have begun working on hiring staff for open positions to ensure that every ministry of Harmony Hill is supported by leadership that is passionate, gifted, and called to serve in each area. We have already filled the Discipleship Pastor role in January with Pastor Justin Easley. We have been and continue to actively seek a Children’s Pastor/Director.
- Second, Pastor John, the Elder Team, and various staff, and church members are working together to prayerfully define Harmony Hill’s Identity and Direction. The Elders have contracted Sherpa (consulting firm) to help us in this process. We began by considering the people, community, and passions that God has given us, and we will continue by discerning how He is calling our church to serve accordingly. This will be a 6 to 9-month process that will end with defined Identity and Direction that will bring organizational continuity by articulating a vision and purpose for the church that is not defined by a single leader but by the church’s distinctives/the Lord’s leading. We will continue to provide updates and request feedback along the way.
- During this process, we have also realized that our bylaws and constitutions are outdated and, in many ways do not reflect changes in operation that we have already approved as a church. Therefore, the Elder Team and staff will review our current bylaws in light of current structures and operations and the Identity and Direction process and present suggested changes to the church body at an upcoming business conference (future date to be decided).
- A webpage is being developed that will contain regular updates and videos from the Elder Team and Pastor John to keep our church family informed during the transition process.
Many hours have already gone into this process, and many more will be invested as we work together to discern God’s will for His church here on The Hill. As we continue working on these projects, several of you will be called upon to provide insight and feedback. Whether you are called upon or not, you are a beloved member of this congregation, and we value your involvement in our church family. We are asking you to help by communicating updates in your circles of influence and speaking up if you hear doubts or assumptions being made. You play a crucial role in maintaining truth and unity in our church body.
Please pray. We will continue to provide periodic updates on the transition webpage and from the pulpit. In the meantime, we need the whole church unified in prayer and spirit. We ask that your families pray regularly in the following ways:
- for our church family to be guarded against disunity, gossip, or doubts
- wisdom and discernment for the Elder Team
- for Pastor John & Kathryn and their entire family
I want to share something with you that I feel needs to be shared. People have begun coming to me from time to time to ask when I will retire and what will be next for me. I understand people asking, and here’s what I want you all to know, and I want you to hear me on this and not read any more into this than I’m saying. Because I think about you, the church, and my responsibility, I’ve initiated the conversation with the Elder Team to begin planning for when I transition from being Senior Pastor.
I pray that as long as God gives me breath, there will be a ministry for me here on The Hill. That’s my heart; it’s what I want to do, and I don’t want to be anyplace else. I love this church, but there will be a time when the same God who put on my heart to come here will say my time with you as Senior Pastor is done.
– Dec. 5 2021, Pastor John W. Greene
The purpose of the Emergency Succession Policy is to ensure the continuous coverage of duties critical to the ongoing successful operations of HHBC. The Elder Team is adopting policies and procedures for the temporary appointment of acting staff members in the event of an unplanned and extended absence of key positions.
Filling Ministerial Staff Needs
We have begun working on hiring staff for open positions to ensure that every ministry of Harmony Hill is supported by leadership that is passionate, gifted, and called to serve in each area. We have already filled the Discipleship Pastor role in January with Pastor Justin Easley. We have been and continue to actively seek a Children’s Pastor/Director.
Identity & Direction
Pastor John, the Elder Team, and various staff, and church members are working together to prayerfully define Harmony Hill’s Identity and Direction. The Elders have contracted Sherpa (consulting firm) to help us in this process. We began by considering the people, community, and passions that God has given us, and we will continue by discerning how He is calling our church to serve accordingly. This will be a 6 to 9-month process that will end with defined Identity and Direction that will bring organizational continuity by articulating a vision and purpose for the church that is not defined by a single leader but by the church’s distinctives/the Lord’s leading. We will continue to provide updates and request feedback along the way.
Bylaws and Constitution
WHEN IS PASTOR JOHN TRANSITIONING?
There is no date set yet for the transition. We are performing our due diligence to ensure that when the time comes, our church will be prepared to transition in a healthy manner.
WHO WILL BE LEADING THE SEARCH FOR A NEW PASTOR?
When the time comes to search for a Senior Pastor, based on the guidelines of the Constitution & Bylaws and the historic precedent of the church leaders being the group that makes up the search team, the elders will be leading our church in this process.
WHAT WILL BROTHER JOHN & KATHRYN DO AFTER THE TRANSITION?
It is the stated desire of Pastor John and Kathryn to remain active in ministry here on the Hill after the transition – albeit in different roles. As God leads, we will be excited to share with you what those responsibilities will be.
WHAT IS PISGAH?
Pastor John began to realize God’s call to transition (Pisgah – the mountain from which God showed Moses the land He had promised the Israelites through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob but also the mountain where God told Moses he would not inhabit the land with the Israelites. Duet 34:1-5).
WHO IS SHERPA?
Sherpa is a consulting firm that specializes in “Guiding ministry transitions, helping churches, para-church ministries, and nonprofit organizations steward key leadership transitions.”
“Pastoral Succession is one of the biggest stewardship challenges facing the Church in the next 10 years.”
The website can be found at https://www.successionsherpa.com/
WHO IS THE SHEPHERD'S STAFF?
This is an organization that specializes in ministry staffing matters.
“Our staff is committed, both as individuals and as a team to being as useful and unique as a staff is in the Shepherd’s hand so that He is able to empower you and your church ….”
The website can be found at https://theshepherdsstaff.com/
HOW CAN I PRAY?
Pray for God’s provision of a Children’s Ministry leader.
Pray for Pastor John & Kathryn as they plan for their next season of ministry.
Pray for the Elder Team as they seek God’s will for our church leadership.
Pray for the “heart” of our church body to be united during the transition.