Martha Haigler has served Providence Baptist Church faithfully for many years now, first as Membership Secretary and, most recently, as our Pastoral Care Associate, a position with both pastoral care and administrative support responsibilities. Beginning April 1, she will start her work as Interim Director of Pastoral Care here at Providence.
So, what does this mean?
First and foremost, it means that Martha will be serving Providence in the area where her true passion and gifts for ministry lie. An ordained minister and honors graduate of Gardner-Webb’s School of Divinity, Martha enjoys doing pastoral care—and she’s good at it. Not only does Martha know her way around the hospitals, in-care facilities, and retirement villages in the Charlotte region, she’s been around this church long enough to know the Providence people who are in these facilities.
Moreover, Martha has a knack for organization that helps her keep track of who’s where, when they got there, why they had to go there, and how they’re doing. In a large church, where keeping up with everybody and their pastoral care needs—especially in times of crisis—can be a challenge (to say the least), this knack is a huge advantage. Already during my time at Providence, I have pretty much on a daily basis been blessed by—and grateful for—Martha’s efficient, informative, accurate reports and her wise recommendations. She cares deeply about Providence and its members.
When the apostle Paul writes about spiritual gifts, he maintains that each Christian “is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7). In other words, when we serve God through the church by doing what we like doing and are good at doing, then everybody benefits. I am confident that, during this interim period, putting Martha in a position to make best use of her gifts will be a positive move, both for Martha and for Providence.
The second thing this change in Martha’s position means is that, soon, I hope you will begin to notice a change in the way we do pastoral care here. Specifically, we want to make it easier for members to contact on-call ministers and deacons. We also want to improve the way we share information so that ministers, deacons, Sunday School leaders, and visitation teams can better keep up with Providence people in times of need. Finally, we want to be more intentional about reaching out to Providence people whom we haven’t seen or heard from in a while. There is a surprisingly large number of folks who fall into this category. Some have no doubt moved away from Charlotte, or started attending a different church in the area, without letting us know about these significant changes in their lives. Others still consider Providence to be their church, but their connections here have, for whatever reason, grown weak over time. Because good pastoral care requires good communication, we intend to make the effort on our part to be in touch with those we’ve been missing.
Now, with all that said, I imagine you may yet have some lingering questions about what will happen during this transition time at Providence. Let me try to anticipate a few:
Q. With Martha assuming the role of Interim Director of Pastoral Care, what will happen to her administrative responsibilities?
A. Beginning April 1, Sharon Isley will assume these duties. Martha has spent the month of March orienting Sharon in preparation for this move.
Q. Why is Martha’s position designated as “Interim”?
A. Because we are in an interim period following David Jordan’s resignation as Teaching Pastor and Martha is taking on some of the responsibilities that might otherwise go unmet during this interim.
Q. What will happen to the Teaching Pastor position?
A. Based on my conversations with the Personnel Committee and the Deacons’ Strategic Planning Ministry Group, a new ministerial position will most likely be created in its place, one focused primarily on faith formation and Christian discipleship. As per our by-laws, when the time comes to move forward with the process of creating this new position, the Nominating Committee will form a search committee. Once this search committee has been approved by the congregation, it can begin developing a profile for this new position which will, when completed, be submitted to the congregation for approval. At that point, the search committee can start its work in earnest.
As the month of April begins, please pray for Martha and Sharon as they begin new roles at Providence. Pray also for God’s guidance in our process of discernment as we search for new ministry leadership here in the days to come. Most of all, however, “in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We certainly have many good reasons to be thankful. May the peace of Christ be with you!