Co-Pastor Evaluation Team Questions and Answers
Pastors John Anderson and Theresa Cho propose to change their current pastor/associate pastor relationship to one of co-pastors at St. John’s. Session has asked the Co-Pastor Evaluation Team (Jill Jacobi, Carol Ogilvie, Kim Kwok and Jonathan Howe) to study John and Theresa’s proposal. Then they will recommend to Session whether to approve pursuing that proposal. If Session approves the proposal, it would be voted on by St. John’s congregation. If approved, it would go to Presbytery for further approval. Before making any recommendation to Session, the Evaluation Team wants input from St. John’s congregation.
Q. Who came up with this proposal?
A. John and Theresa jointly proposed this change. The formal change will more accurately reflect the collaborative partnership that John and Theresa share at St. John’s. Although their day-to-day “jobs” focus on different areas, they have been contributing equally to St. John’s, its missions and ministry.
Q. What are co-pastors?
A. The title provides for two pastors to share equally in their roles, responsibilities and vision. A strong sense of teamwork and good communication skills are required! John and Theresa have been working together since Theresa’s call to St. John’s in 2003, ten years ago! They believe they have the right qualifications to make the change.
Q. What pastoral roles will change and what will not?
A. There will be a fundamental change between John and Theresa’s roles in the sense that their responsibilities would become equal as regards staffing, the facility, pastoral care, worship, leadership and Presbytery; John and Theresa would become jointly accountable for those responsibilities. They would also share the responsibility to execute the congregation’s vision and expectations.
Even with this fundamental change of roles, however, very little would change on a day-to-day basis. As they do currently, John and Theresa would continue to provide worship leadership, educational, spiritual development and training opportunities, conduct weddings and memorials, direct the congregation’s vision and relate to the community and to Presbytery. Each also has unique strengths, skills and interests. For example, Theresa coordinates Sunday School, the website and electronic communications. John coordinates the various “teams” at St. John’s and supervises the staff, our intern and the finances.
Q. How long would this co-pastor arrangement be in place?
A. As proposed, the new structure would be indefinite as to Pastors John and Theresa, but the pastors’ terms of call would still be voted on by the congregation every year.
Q. How would this proposal affect St. John’s budget?
A. In the short term—the coming three years or so–we would likely need to adjust Pastor Theresa’s compensation upward commensurate with her increased responsibilities and experience. However, we recognize that Pastor John will be 65 in 2016 and may wish to reduce his hours, subject to the congregation affirming his terms of call. That could mean a reduction in John’s salary that would largely offset an increase in Theresa’s compensation.
Q. Who decides whether St. John’s transitions to a co-pastor structure?
A. The Co-Pastor Evaluation Team is studying the proposal. They want input from all of you, the congregation. How do you feel about it? What are your concerns? When the Evaluation Team feels it has sufficient information to make an intelligent analysis, it will report back and make a recommendation to Session. If Session approves, the proposal goes back to the congregation for a vote. Then, if the congregation approves, the San Francisco Presbytery must also approve.
Q. Is there any other significance to a change from pastor/associate pastor to co-pastors?
A. Yes. There would be a significant change in pastoral transition for St. John’s in certain circumstances. Now, if anything happened to Pastor John, such as retirement or a disability that prevented him from serving as pastor, the Book of Order—our Presbyterian constitutional document—directs a certain process. First, the Session, with Presbytery’s approval, would obtain a temporary pastor to serve for 12 months or so. After that, neither the temporary pastor nor Pastor Theresa would be eligible to be installed as St. John’s pastor, except on special approval vote by Presbytery. Pastor Theresa would remain as Associate Pastor.
If John and Theresa are co-pastors, the situation is different. If anything happened to either one of them that prevented their service as pastor, the other would remain as St. John’s pastor. There would be no need to hire a temporary pastor because the remaining pastor would be St. John’s pastor. (Of course St. John’s would be free to seek a new Associate Pastor, if needed.) Therefore, a co-pastor relationship might be viewed as providing stability and a peaceful, smooth transition should either John or Theresa’s relationship with St. John’s end.
Q. I have other questions. Whom do I talk to?
A. Jill Jacobi, Carol Ogilvie, Kim Kwok and Jonathan Howe are Evaluation Team members. They will be available to answer questions after worship. If you have further questions, you can call or email then. Their contact information is:
You can also feel free to speak to John and/or Theresa directly.