Tenth Press: Will Spokes

by D. Marion Clark December 15, 2013

At the annual congregational meeting, Dr. Goligher reported the following decision of the Session—to propose to the congregation that Will Spokes be called as an Associate Minister of Tenth Church. Let me unpack what may be confusing.

Will has been serving as the minister of outreach at Tenth for more than a year now. What else needs to be done? Will was originally called by—i.e., he was hired by—the Session to be an Assistant Minister. Carroll Wynne, Bruce McDowell, and I are Associate Ministers.

What is the difference? An Assistant Minister is called by the Session; an Associate Minister is called by the congregation. You may remember that when Will came last year, he was presented to the congregation but church members did not actually vote for him to come.

An Assistant Minister is not a member of the Session. An Associate Minister is. As an Assistant Minister at Tenth, Will does attend Session meetings and is free to participate in discussion, but he cannot vote. If the Session goes into “executive session,” which means no one outside the Session may participate, Will leaves the room. Even so, as an ordained minister, Will is a teaching elder, and he may even moderate a Session meeting if asked to do so.

Why was Will called as an Assistant Minister and not an Associate? The reason is that when the search was taking place for someone to lead outreach, the search committee was not limited to searching among ministers. It was possible that a layperson could have been hired, who then would be titled Director rather than Minister. For expediency, he was then hired as Assistant Minister, with the understanding that he would likely be presented later as an Associate.

That time has come. Will and his family (Megan, Liam, Elliott, Henry, and Oliver) have settled in. He has had a year to gain a good understanding of Tenth and his role here, to develop an outreach strategy for the congregation, as well as to put initiatives into place, such as training and doing outreach. (He has also demonstrated loyalty to the Phillies.) Will has earned the confidence of the Session, and we know that he has earned the same from many of you in the congregation by your comments and involvement.

Then what is next? We need to set a date to call a congregational meeting for voting. That date is likely to be in January and likely to follow the morning services, which provides the strongest turnout. You will be receiving further information about Will—what he has accomplished since arriving and his strategy for moving forward.

Meanwhile, let me recall some history and background. Will began his ministry with us in August 2012. Previously, he had served seven years as the Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) minister on the campus of Duke University. RUF is the college campus ministry of our denomination. Will already knew Philadelphia, having attended seminary at Westminster. It was at that time he discovered Megan, the daughter of Jerry McFarland, when Jerry was Dean of Students at Westminster and an Assistant Minister at Tenth.

Will’s job description as Minister of Outreach includes the following:

•  Model a lifestyle of personal evangelism and train church members to engage in such a lifestyle.

•  Develop, direct, and implement all facets of adult outreach.

•  Initiate/create/facilitate new outreach efforts.

•  Oversee all outreach events and activities.

•  Co-chair the Metro Outreach Commission with a Ruling Elder.

•  Direct the work of the college ministry director.

•  Direct the ministry for young adults, specifically Tenth City Network.

•  Disciple the interns under his supervision.

Observing and overseeing Will’s activities over the last year, the Session is pleased with his ministry and, again, recommends him to the congregation to be called as Associate Minister of Outreach.