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Jeffrey Betz
Per Ralamb
Elisabeth MacDonald
Fiona Stewart
Ashley Antonello
Loren Darzano


Discernment Committee Update:

The Discernment Committee has been in place since May 2019. They have collected information on milestones that we have individually had at Hilltop as well as completed a demographic study of our area.  Throughout the summer they have been holding focus groups with constituent groups to gather views and opinions on the future direction of our church. Information from the timeline event and from the focus groups will be summarized in a final report that will be submitted to Session at a Special Session Meeting in early October. This report will trigger the creation of a Pastoral Nominating Committee whose job will be to identify a Senior Pastor for Hilltop's future. Your input is critical in creating the vision for Hilltop Church going forward!

Please contact the Discernment Team Members with any questions or concerns.



Message from the Hilltop Discernment Committee

July 18, 2019

The Discernment Team is continuing to work diligently through-out the
summer, as we strive to complete our report by the end of September.
Our report will summarize the current state of Hilltop Church as well as
our aspirations for the future. This report will then be used by the
Pastoral Nominating Committee as it undertakes its own process to
find a new pastor for our church.

We thought that it would be helpful if we provided a status report on
the Discernment Team's progress and if we shared some background
on Presbyterian governance and processes.
Presbyterian church government emphasizes that the leadership of the
church is shared between those called to be ministers and church
members called to be elders within the congregation. The Presbyterian
Church (U.S.A.) is governed by its Constitution, the Book of
and The Book of Confessions.

  • Session: Governing body in each church made up of the minister (as moderator) and 18 Elders (church members) elected by the congregation

  • Presbytery: governing board composed of several churches (we are part of Newton Presbytery)

  • Synods: “mid-counsel” body made up of several Presbyteries (we are in Synod of the Northeast)

  • General Assembly: overall governing body made up of all Synods, representing the entire denomination

  • The Book of Order: a book that contains church government policies to guide every aspect of Presbyterian church life

Every ten years, Presbytery requires a congregation to re-evaluate
itself to assess/identify its future direction. Presbytery has defined a
very specific and deliberate process that a church uses to understand
its past, and, most importantly, its vision for the future. The congregation
essentially characterizes itself to identify its attributes,
beliefs and personality.

There are four steps in this process which are to be followed sequentially. Here is the summary of those steps:

1. Create an event timeline of the church for the congregation to populate – Completed

2. Demographic study - Completed

3. Hold “focus groups” with members to gain insight on where we would like our church to be – Late July and August

4. A final report summarizing all information to the Session and to you – Late September

Here is a summary of the next steps that we will be following to meet our September deadline:

  • Focus group meetings with church members through late July and August (membership will be flexible as will dates/times
    o Member participation is critical

  • The Discernment Committee will analyze and summarize our needs and vision in a final report (September)

  • This final report will be presented to Session and the congregation

  • Pastoral Nominating Committee (PNC) will be appointed

  • PNC will use the report to write a job description and identify a panel of candidates

  • PNC will determine the best suited candidate for our church

  • Entire Pastoral process estimated to take 12 - 18 months from its initiation

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact any of us on the Discernment Committee.
We all look forward to seeing you at one of our focus group meetings.

In Christ –
Your Discernment Committee

Jeffrey Betz, Per Ralamb, Elisabeth MacDonald, Fiona Stewart, Ashley Antonello and Loren Darzano


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