We’re excited to welcome our next Senior Pastor, Rev. Ryan Laughlin, and his family as they prepare to join our congregation! We’ll use this space to provide updates on the transition ahead; stay tuned!

This page also provides background on our Pastoral Search Committee’s process and updates during their work from Oct 2020 to Oct 2021.

Our next Senior Pastor

On 10/31, our congregation voted with an overwhelming majority to call Rev. Ryan Laughlin as our Senior Pastor!

Read intro | Watch his 10/24 sermon

Pastoral Search Committee Updates

  • Oct 2021 Updates

  • Oct 2021 Updates

  • Jan–Aug 2021 Updates

  • 2020 Updates

  • FAQs

10/29/21 Update

We pray you are encouraged as you reflect upon God’s word, join us in prayer and fasting as able, and recount how He has worked in the life of MPC and also in the details of the Pastoral Search Committee’s process by yielding clarity on who we believe should be the next Senior Pastor.

As you prepare your hearts for the Congregational Meeting on Sunday, we invite you to ask the PSC any remaining questions regarding Ryan Laughlin’s candidacy for Senior Pastor.  We welcome you to reach out to the [email protected] inbox. We want our congregation to have a full understanding of Ryan, and at the same time, we want to provide Ryan space to minister to his current congregation in this sensitive time, as they process the news that God may call him to another church. In light of that, the committee is happy to address any questions you may have; our meetings and interviews with Ryan over this process have been extremely thorough and we will do our best to address your question/s as a committee.

There are a number of resources available as you prepare for Sunday: Intro bookletRyan’s sermon on Sunday, our Town Hall Q&Ahis past sermons, our Scripture-based Prayer Guide.

In the interim, may you joyfully enter into God’s presence:
“Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations” (Psalm 100:3-5)!

With the love of our Good Shepherd – Jesus Christ,
The Pastoral Search Committee

Ellis Chaplin, Gene Goodell, Leslie Hobbs, Tricia Hollis, Rachel Hooker, Erica Hotmire, Jim Perry, Don Solberg, Eric Treene, Margie Watkins, Mark Whittle, Bruce Young, and Daniel Zimmerman

10/24/21 Update

As we look ahead to our Oct. 31st Congregational Meeting, preparing to vote on the calling of Ryan Laughlin as our Senior Pastor, the Pastoral Search Committee created this Scripture-based prayer guide specifically to aid us in seeking God’s sovereign guidance.  We hope you will find this helpful to your prayers over the week.

In addition to prayer, we hope you also had the chance to hear from Ryan directly, whether it was his sermon on Sundaythe Town Hall (Q&A key highlights to follow – stay tuned!), or one of his past messages, and be encouraged to learn how the Lord is working.

In the interim, may we celebrate taking inventory of God’s gifts, investing in His kingdom come, and enjoying the relationship we have with Him because of Christ.

Praying with you,
The Pastoral Search Committee

Ellis Chaplin, Gene Goodell, Leslie Hobbs, Tricia Hollis, Rachel Hooker, Erica Hotmire, Jim Perry, Don Solberg, Eric Treene, Margie Watkins, Mark Whittle, Bruce Young, and Daniel Zimmerman

10/21/21 Update

The Pastoral Search Committee is delighted to provide ways for you to learn more about MPC’s candidate for Senior Pastor, Ryan Laughlin, and his family, background, giftings, and shepherd’s heart. Read the brochure, which includes:

  • A biographical sketch & schedule of events
  • The Laughlins’ story
  • Reflections on our congregational priorities
  • Ryan’s resume & access to his recorded sermons

Printed copies of the brochure will be available on Sunday at our worship services, Town Hall, and at our upcoming Congregational Meeting.

We praise God for his promise found in Jeremiah 3:15 where God says he “will give us shepherds after His own heart, who will feed us with knowledge and understanding.” We rejoice at how the Lord has answered this prayer across MPC’s history, and will continue to lead us in this next chapter as we anticipate welcoming Ryan into our Capital Pres Family.

In Christ,
The Pastoral Search Committee

Ellis Chaplin, Gene Goodell, Leslie Hobbs, Tricia Hollis, Rachel Hooker, Erica Hotmire, Jim Perry, Don Solberg, Eric Treene, Margie Watkins, Mark Whittle, Bruce Young, and Daniel Zimmerman

10/20/21 Update

The Pastoral Search Committee is excited to recommend Rev. Ryan Laughlin for your consideration as our next Senior Pastor. After a 12-month careful search process in service of you – the congregation – our committee firmly believes the Lord is calling Ryan to McLean Presbyterian Church (MPC).  We look forward in the coming days to sharing with you the gifts and attributes that drew us to Ryan as an outstanding fit for our church. He has a vibrant heart for our Lord and for His people at MPC. As God told Samuel when he chose King David, “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”  (I Sam. 16:7 (b))

There will be more information on Ryan, Heather, and their sons to follow across the next few days. Please watch this video from our committee for a preview. Mark your calendars for opportunities to meet Ryan and Heather: this upcoming weekend (October 23 & 24) they’ll be joining us at McLean, and the following Sunday (October 31 at 12:30pm) there will be a Congregational Meeting to vote on Ryan’s candidacy.  We hope you can arrange your schedules to engage with them as you are able.

Thursday, October 21

  • Brief Pamphlet introducing the Laughlins – keep an eye on your email
  • Evening with Board of Women (Off campus)*

Friday, October 22

  • Meeting with MPC Staff (11:30am, MPC Fellowship Hall)*
  • Evening with the Pastoral Search Committee (Off campus)*

Saturday, October 23

  • Diaconate Meet & Greet (7:30am, MPC Multi-Purpose Room)*
  • Evening with the Session (6pm – 8pm, MPC Fellowship Hall)*

Sunday, October 24

  • Ryan will preach at all services (9am & 10:45am – Sanctuary, Livestream, Livestream to Fellowship Hall and Fairfax), 5:15pm – Sanctuary + Livestream
  • Church Town Hall (Immediately following the 5:15pm service, Sanctuary + Livestream)

Saturday, October 30

  • Men’s Retreat (10:15am, Zoom in)

Sunday, October 31

  • Congregational Meeting (12:30pm, details to follow)

Friday, December 17

  • Young Adult Round Table (Zoom in)
*denotes meetings with Elected Leaders or Staff only

As you know, the role of our congregation in electing our Senior Pastor is an inalienable privilege and sacred duty performed before God. We ask you to enter into this duty wholeheartedly; please invest time to get to know the Laughlins, listen to Ryan’s preaching, pray (and fast as you are able) for God to lead our congregation in unity, and share your thoughts and seek input from others in a manner worthy of the gospel (Phil 1:27). As you have questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Pastoral Search Committee’s inbox ([email protected]).

We celebrate God’s steadfastness in the history of our church and the flourishing that is happening right now at MPC.  We marvel at how the Lord has guided us in this process, and we joyfully look forward to what He will continue to do in this next chapter. Thank you for your continued prayers in this journey.

Rejoicing in God’s faithfulness,
The Pastoral Search Committee

Ellis Chaplin, Gene Goodell, Leslie Hobbs, Tricia Hollis, Rachel Hooker, Erica Hotmire, Jim Perry, Don Solberg, Eric Treene, Margie Watkins, Mark Whittle, Bruce Young, and Daniel Zimmerman

10/1/21 Update

As you may remember, the Pastoral Search Committee’s work kicked off last September and for those keeping an eye on our progress and supporting us in prayer during each step (thank you!), we believe we are close to putting forward a nominee.

We want to preview with you the likely course of events when the Pastoral Search Committee (PSC) finally announces the candidate. These suggested actions are based on the accumulated wisdom of those with experience in this process and on the Book of Church Order protocols (BCO chapter 20).

  • When the committee is ready, we will announce the nomination via email and send details on the candidate to the congregation.
  • The following weekend, the candidate and his spouse will visit McLean Presbyterian Church. Members will have opportunities to meet them during that visit. Information on those events will be included in the initial announcement.
  • The candidate will preach at every service on the Sunday of his visit, in person at McLean and via livestream at Fairfax. We hope that you will plan to attend worship — even if online — so you can hear him open God’s Word. (Until then, any guest preacher who is not introduced from the pulpit as a candidate is not the nominee!)
  • Our congregation will invest time across the next several days seeking God’s guidance together. We will ask you to consider joining us in fasting and prayer across that time as you are able.
  • The PSC will ask the Session to expeditiously schedule a congregational meeting to discuss and vote on the question of whether to call the candidate to the Senior Pastor role at our church. Congregants will have opportunities for comments and questions, and the PSC will be prepared to present why we believe the candidate is the man “most suited to be profitable to the spiritual interests of the congregation” (BCO 20-2).
  • If that vote is affirmative, then the church will present his case to our Presbytery for examination and approval and anticipate him joining our family when he is able.

The role of our congregation in electing our Senior Pastor is an inalienable privilege and sacred duty performed before God. Let’s pray that together we approach this duty in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (Phil 1:27).

We are grateful for all of the prayer support and words of encouragement that you have given us across the last several months and are delighted that our God’s answers to those prayers now bring us to this point. We look forward to taking the next step together.

-The Pastoral Search Committee
Ellis Chaplin, Gene Goodell, Leslie Hobbs, Tricia Hollis, Rachel Hooker, Erica Hotmire, Jim Perry, Don Solberg, Eric Treene, Margie Watkins, Mark Whittle, Bruce Young, and Daniel Zimmerman

8/27/21 Update

We ask for your prayers for the Pastoral Search Committee, as we seek God’s guidance in the final stages of the process.

Starting with over 90 potential candidates (sourced from various places including from you — our congregation — among others), we have narrowed our focus to three, and we are in the midst of extensive face-to-face meetings with them.

Should it be the Lord’s will, our Committee hopes to be in a position to propose a candidate this fall for your consideration and vote. Given where we are in the journey, please pray that the work we are now doing would make it clear which of those men would be “most suited to be profitable to the spiritual interests of the congregation” (The Book of Church Order, BCO 20-2). Pray that we would be of one mind in reaching that view. Finally, pray that the other men who have generously invested time in our evaluation efforts would place their confidence in God and be at peace with our process.

For those who missed our previous updates and want to know how we got to this point, across the last several months we have:

  • conducted extensive surveys and in-person listening sessions with our congregation,
  • absorbed a steady stream of verbal and written feedback,
  • reviewed 60+ potential candidates who our church members and staff asked us to consider,
  • reviewed almost 30 additional candidates brought to our attention,
  • listened to over 1,000 sermons, classes and conference speeches,
  • read dozens of potential candidates’ blog posts, articles, and books,
  • studied the wisdom of those who think deeply about today’s church and about the
  • complex issues that might threaten our unity,
  • and, most importantly, spent many hours talking with men who have been called by God into gospel ministry, learning who they are and being blessed by the overflow of their relationships with Christ.

That work, bathed in seasons of prayer and fasting, has had one goal: to help us seek God’s will with regards to our next Senior Pastor. But “unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1). So please pray with us that God would speak with unmistakable clarity.

In the interim, may we all “stand firm in the strength of the Lord’s might” (Ephesians 6:10)!

-The Pastoral Search Committee
Ellis Chaplin, Gene Goodell, Leslie Hobbs, Tricia Hollis, Rachel Hooker, Erica Hotmire, Jim Perry, Don Solberg, Eric Treene, Margie Watkins, Mark Whittle, Bruce Young, and Daniel Zimmerman

7/15/21 Update

Hello, this is Tricia Hollis, a member of your Pastoral Search Committee (PSC). Many of you have been praying for the PSC that God would lead us and give us insight as we seek his man for our church. One way he has answered those prayers is by teaching us as we move along in the journey — we would like to thank you and acknowledge the impact of your prayers. Here is a brief window into how the Lord has encouraged me during this process.

When I was first approached last fall about the possibility of serving on this committee, my immediate response was positive. I thought it would be interesting to be involved in such an important decision. I love our church and have been blessed through the years by the teaching, preaching, fellowship, and opportunities to serve — but I had no idea what I was getting myself into!

As we gathered via Zoom for our first meeting, I realized that the task ahead was monumental, and I would be working with 12 people — some of whom I’d never even met — who all had various interpretations and feelings about how we fulfill the charge we’d been given us by the congregation. As we’ve progressed through each new phase of the process — from electing our committee leaders and setting our operating procedures, to gathering input from the congregation and preparing profiles, and now to interviewing candidates, I’ve seen over and over that this search can only have a positive outcome if we trust and allow the Holy Spirit to work within us individually and as a group. I’m thankful that we remain like-minded in that approach and continue to be encouraged as we take it one step at a time.

Just like we know that the Capital Pres Family is not a perfect church (but we serve a perfect King!), we know that finding a perfect man to call as senior pastor is not possible. There is no perfect man! But, by the grace of God, we believe that God has a perfect choice for our church and we continue to pray and strive to find his choice for our church.

In my own devotional life over recent months, I’ve continually come across admonishments to remember God’s faithfulness, his sacrifice, his wisdom, his love, his redemption and his sovereignty. Just like the Israelites wandering through the desert after being delivered from Egypt, we are so prone to forget what God has already done for us and complain over today’s situations. That’s true in my life and in the life of our church. For more than 75 years, God has richly blessed this church and I am confident that his perfect plan for us as a church family will be revealed.

Thank you for the privilege of serving on the Pastoral Search Committee and for your prayers and support for all of us. Please continue to pray that God will reveal his perfect will to our committee and to the congregation.

With gratitude for the many blessings from the Lord (Psalm 103:1-5),
Tricia Hollis, on behalf of the Pastoral Search Committee

6/6/21 Update

See this video from committee members Mark Whittle and Erica Hotmire and the update below.

The Pastoral Search Committee humbly invites you to join us at some point during the week of June 6th for a day of fasting and prayer as we seek the Lord’s continued guidance in the search for our next senior pastor.  We believe that this experience, based upon prior experiences as a committee, could help prompt spiritual growth, sharpen and intensify our prayer life, and cause us to rely more acutely on God and celebrate the nature of his character.

Dr. Richard Pratt, who recently preached at our church, notes that “in the Scriptures, fasting is the self-denial of some or all food or drink as the faithful express their intense concerns to God in special times of prayer and worship.”[1]  We understand that this discipline is not practiced regularly by much of the church, so we thought it would be helpful to outline scriptural support for your potential consideration:

  1. Prevalence of Fasting in the Bible – Individuals like Moses, King David, the prophet Elijah, Queen Esther, Daniel, the prophetess Anna, the apostle Paul, and Jesus Christ all fasted. There were also corporate days of fasting (Lev 23:27, Joel 2:15, 2 Chron 20:1-4, 1 Sam 31:13, Ezra 8:21-23, Neh 1:4, 9:1) in Israel’s history. Fasting was also a mark of the early church (Acts 13:1-3, Acts 14:21-23).
  2. Purpose of Fasting – This exercise must always center on God and be an extension of worship to him (Zech 7:5, Luke 2:37). It can remind us that we are sustained “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” and not by earthly things (Matt 4:4); an opportunity to feast on the word of God. It also can reveal what we may be enslaved by; Paul writes that “all things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything” (1 Cor 6:12).  Fasting can intensify prayer and be a vehicle where God’s people express their deep dependence on God and plead for his mercy and grace.
  3. Practice of Fasting – While fasting is not a commandment, Jesus provides instruction to his disciples on how to fast, suggesting that he expected fasting to be a common practice. Fasting should be done with the right motives to please God (Matt 6:16-18). This discipline is always exercised in the context of prayer, where we can come to God with adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. There are different patterns of fasting across church history and living, and what one chooses to deny him/herself is for each to determine privately and based upon individual or family circumstances.

As Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, fasting was an element of his ministry and something that we can enjoy because of the freedom and fulfillment we experience in Christ.

Regardless of whether you join us or not, we remain thankful for your prayers and encouragement as we, as a congregation, seek and trust God’s guidance throughout the search for our next senior pastor.

Praising God for the manna he rains down daily,
The Pastoral Search Committee

Ellis Chaplin, Gene Goodell, Leslie Hobbs, Tricia Hollis, Rachel Hooker, Erica Hotmire, Jim Perry, Don Solberg, Eric Treene, Margie Watkins, Mark Whittle, Bruce Young, and Daniel Zimmerman

5/4/21 Update

We wanted to take a moment to shed some light on our process and address a few questions we have received since our last communication. We hope this window into our efforts is encouraging as you consider our desire to be rigorous, thoughtful, and prayerful in our approach.

Q1: “Where do candidate nominations come from?”
Suggestions for senior pastor candidates have been received from the congregation through our survey, email and listening sessions, from committee members, and from others in the PCA.

Q2: “How do candidates apply?”
A candidate must submit their resume and fill out the PCA’s Ministerial Data Form (MDF).

Q3: “How are candidates evaluated?”
Every team member reads every file and listens to at least one sermon by each candidate initially. A two-person team is then assigned to each candidate to research backgrounds and experience, listen to a range of sermons, scour social media and review published work/blogs. An initial Zoom conversation is scheduled with the candidate. The PSC convenes to hear reports of these engagements and votes to continue the interview process or decline further consideration. Applicants who continue in the selection process are scheduled accordingly for additional interviews based on the criteria derived from the Senior Pastor Profile.

If you are interested in more details of the workplan or the document outlining additional insight into the evaluation process, you can access them on the website.

May we all be encouraged by our latest sermon series claiming the indescribable promises found in Ephesians: we are set apart by God, chosen, redeemed, and have a glorious inheritance saved up for us!

Praising God that he has blessed us with every spiritual blessing (Eph 1:3),
The Pastoral Search Committee

Ellis Chaplin, Gene Goodell, Leslie Hobbs, Tricia Hollis, Rachel Hooker, Erica Hotmire, Jim Perry, Don Solberg, Eric Treene, Margie Watkins, Mark Whittle, Bruce Young, and Daniel Zimmerman

3/24/21 Update

See this video from committee member Ellis Chaplin and the update below.

The Holy Spirit is working in and through our Pastoral Search Committee. We are especially thankful to see his hand of provision in these three ways:

  1. Church profile response – the committee has received encouragement and affirmation from many of you regarding how the document captures God working amidst our church family. Thank you for your feedback!
  2. Consistent unity – it has been glorious to see the Holy Spirit unify 13 people who start with 13 often varying perspectives in a way that accomplishes an apparent miracle: he has repeatedly enabled a committee (surely the most challenging organizational structure for actually getting something done!) to reach unanimity on hard decisions, collectively craft effective documents, and meet weekly goals.
  3. Curated content – the committee has also created a sermon evaluation rubric to help us assess the 5 C’s of preaching (the contextual, clear, convictional, compassionate, and Christ-centered nature of a message), an interview guide, a diagnostic to assess pastoral fit with the worship culture, and an additional FAQ document to help us address various questions that prospective candidates might have regarding MPC during this evaluation phase.

We hope this is encouraging to see the fruit of your prayers being answered and the Spirit at work in the details! We are so grateful for your continued prayer support.

Habakkuk 2:3 says that “the vision awaits its appointed time…if it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” May we all continue to cling and draw comfort from God’s promise that he is perfectly working out his plan for the church.

Carried by the power of the Spirit,
The Pastoral Search Committee

Dan Zimmerman, Chair; Bruce Young, Vice-Chair; Gene Goodell, Clerk; Ellis Chaplin, Leslie Hobbs, Tricia Hollis, Rachel Hooker, Erica Hotmire, Jim Perry, Don Solberg, Eric Treene, Margie Watkins, Mark Whittle

2/25/21 Update

We are pleased to share with you the church profile that will be used to help potential candidates learn who we are as a church family (mission, vision, history, where we want to go, etc) and whether they might be a fit. It is designed to reflect the massive amount of feedback we received from across the congregation through the survey and listening sessions, and the grace-filled community that makes the Capital Pres Family so special. While this is intended to be an external facing document, we pray it would also encourage you as you celebrate, participate in, and serve the body of Christ.

Our prayer is that the Capital Pres Family would continue to be a place where Acts 2:42–47 is lived out; that there would be a strong devotion to teaching, joyous worship, intimate fellowship, relentless evangelism, and sacrificial service.

In Christ—the author and perfecter of our faith,
The Pastoral Search Committee

Dan Zimmerman, Chair; Bruce Young, Vice-Chair; Gene Goodell, Clerk; Ellis Chaplin, Leslie Hobbs, Tricia Hollis, Rachel Hooker, Erica Hotmire, Jim Perry, Don Solberg, Eric Treene, Margie Watkins, Mark Whittle

1/29/21 Update

We write you today to respond to a few questions we have been hearing from you regarding the candidate search. See this video from committee member Margie Watkins and the Q&A below.

Q1: “Have you started talking to candidates?”
A: Yes, we have just begun. The PSC decided early on that its first priority was to understand the views of the congregation regarding the senior pastor position. After dozens of listening sessions, 600+ completed surveys, and reviewing the many emails received, we are close to completing a church and pastor profile that reflects this feedback. We expect to share this profile with you in the coming days.

Q2: “Will you consider both internal and external candidates?”
A: Yes. The feedback we received included recommendations for a variety of internal and external candidates. Our search includes qualified Teaching Elders in the PCA or like-minded denominations who match the profile developed from the input you – the congregation – have provided. Every application, whether internal or external, will be given a fair and timely evaluation.

Q3: “Why did the PSC decide to conduct a broad search for our next senior pastor?”
A: This approach is most consistent with feedback we received from the congregation. One thing that did not factor into the decision to do a broad search was the merit of any particular potential candidate. The PSC has not yet evaluated any candidate, and it goes without saying this decision conveys no lack of confidence in the current, gifted pastoral team. It is because of our confidence in the current team that we believe MPC can continue to prosper while the search process unfolds.

Q4: “Why did the PSC decide not to evaluate any potential internal candidates prior to a broad search, as was done with James Forsyth?”
A: The PSC weighed multiple factors in making this decision. Among them were the congregation’s feedback and our denomination’s constitution, the Book of Church Order (BCO), which states that internal assistant pastors “may not normally succeed the senior pastor without an intervening term of service in a different field of labor.” The BCO does allow for an internal candidate to become senior pastor, but describes this as an “exception,” charges the PSC to ensure he is the “most suited” candidate, and requires a higher vote threshold of 80% of the congregation versus a simple majority. Therefore, we are conducting a broad search, and welcoming internal candidates as part of that search.

Q5: “Is there any update on the timeline?”
A: In November we noted that an evangelical church of our size and complexity should expect to take 6 – 18 months to call a new pastor from when the committee commences the work (late September). While the pandemic has created challenges, that is still our ambition.

We are grateful for your support, engagement, and prayer. Please continue to check the website from time to time and give us the benefit of your feedback. Also, if there are individuals who you would like to recommend as candidates, please do.

Yours in Christ,
The Pastoral Search Committee

Dan Zimmerman, Chair; Bruce Young, Vice-Chair; Gene Goodell, Clerk; Ellis Chaplin, Leslie Hobbs, Tricia Hollis, Rachel Hooker, Erica Hotmire, Jim Perry, Don Solberg, Eric Treene, Margie Watkins, Mark Whittle

1/15/21 Update

Thank you for participating in the Pastoral Search Committee’s survey launched this past December. We received almost 600 completed surveys! Your responses and written comments are an important input to our Committee’s work in hearing directly from you.

We are delighted to share the insights with you (view survey results). As you may know, in addition to launching the church wide survey, our committee has conducted dozens of listening sessions across various communities such as Community Groups, Crosstrainers, church leadership, church staff, and young adults. We look forward to sharing a more comprehensive picture when the church profile is completed.

May we all be comforted by God’s unwavering purpose for his church, unhindered by any circumstance, for scripture says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23)!

We appreciate your continual prayer and encouragement in this process.

Yours in Christ,
The Pastoral Search Committee

Dan Zimmerman, Chair; Bruce Young, Vice-Chair; Gene Goodell, Clerk; Ellis Chaplin, Leslie Hobbs, Tricia Hollis, Rachel Hooker, Erica Hotmire, Jim Perry, Don Solberg, Eric Treene, Margie Watkins, Mark Whittle

12/21/20 Update

Greetings in Advent! Click on the video to view the latest efforts and what’s on the horizon.

In the interim, be encouraged by Luke 1:68-69: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.”

Praising God for the gift of His son,
The Pastoral Search Committee

Ellis Chaplin, Gene Goodell, Leslie Hobbs, Tricia Hollis, Rachel Hooker, Erica Hotmire, Jim Perry, Don Solberg, Eric Treene, Margie Watkins, Mark Whittle, Bruce Young, Daniel Zimmerman

11/5/20 Update

Greetings Capital Pres Family,

As we journey in this process together, you can now visit The Pastoral Search Committee’s webpage on our McLean and Fairfax websites, which centralizes all the information and resources to facilitate our partnership, including:

  • Scriptural references to provide encouragement and guidance as we pray for our next senior pastor
  • Link to send direct feedback and questions to the group
  • Excerpts from the Book of Church Order to provide a window into the processes and procedures that govern our church
  • Confidentiality Covenant that binds agreement across the group

Here is a quick video that introduces the webpage and shows you how to get to it on our website.

The committee is also in the process of putting together a congregational survey so we can systematically gather data and insight around compiling a church and pastor profile. In addition to this feedback effort, we will conduct listening sessions across dozens of communities at Capital Pres (CGs, Young Adults, Senior Saints, Crosstrainers, etc) so we can glean additional sentiment and perspective to inform The Pastoral Search Committee’s work.

We hope you find this news helpful and encouraging.

May God continue to give us all a Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that we can know Him and His hope, riches, and power better in this season (Ephesians 1:16-19).

Praising God for the unity we have in Christ,
The Pastoral Search Committee

Ellis Chaplin, Gene Goodell, Leslie Hobbs, Tricia Hollis, Rachel Hooker, Erica Hotmire, Jim Perry, Don Solberg, Eric Treene, Margie Watkins, Mark Whittle, Bruce Young, Daniel Zimmerman

10/8/20 Update

The Pastoral Search Committee is delighted to let you know that we are up and running. We have kicked off with twice-weekly Zoom meetings, and one of our first objectives is to open lines of communication between the Congregation and the Committee. We want to hear from you and keep you informed regarding our progress.

How can you contribute to the Pastoral Search Committee?

  • Send us your thoughts, questions, and suggestions by using this central email address: [email protected] We may not act on every suggestion, but we will prayerfully consider every message.
  • Watch for periodic emails and Sunday announcements.
  • Participate in any congregational surveys and other input opportunities that we may ask of you.
  • Visit the coming landing page on the church website, where we will be updating a prayer guide, work plans, milestones/progress, and any congregational survey results, as appropriate.
  • Pray

We will strive to communicate frequently and thoroughly. However, until a candidate is put forward, we will maintain maximum confidentiality about our candidate pool. While we aim to communicate around what we are doing, we will be silent about whom we are doing it with. We hope you agree that this is the right way to treat candidates who are trusting us with their reputations and the feelings of their families and churches. We understand that a prolonged silence about the one thing we all care most about will be hard, so please be patient with your Pastoral Search Committee in this regard.

If you have any suggestions about other ways that we can effectively establish and maintain an open and constructive dialogue, please let us know.

In the interim, may you rest in God’s promise from Jeremiah 3:15: “And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”

Yours in Christ,
The Pastoral Search Committee

(Dan Zimmerman, Chair; Bruce Young, Vice-Chair; Gene Goodell, Clerk; Ellis Chaplin, Leslie Hobbs, Tricia Hollis, Rachel Hooker, Erica Hotmire, Jim Perry, Don Solberg, Eric Treene, Margie Watkins, Mark Whittle)

What is the role of the Search Committee?

Each PCA congregation has the privilege and responsibility of selecting its own Senior Pastor. The Pastoral Search Committee was elected by the congregation to work on its behalf in that effort. The Committee does not select the pastor. Rather, it does the necessary background research, first gathering input from the Congregation and wise counsel from a variety of sources and then identifying and evaluating candidates accordingly.

“Then the pulpit committee shall, after consultation and deliberation, recommend to the congregation a candidate who, in its judgment, fulfills the Constitutional requirements of that office (e.g., BCO 8, 13-16, and 21)1 and is most suited to be profitable to the spiritual interests of the congregation.” (Book of Church Order 20-2) The congregation has the authority and responsibility to accept or reject that recommendation.

Who are the members of the Pastoral Search Committee?

The congregation elected 13 members to serve as the Committee. Please use this link to access short biographies for each member.

How long does a search process like this normally take?

Consultants who specialize in helping evangelical churches of our size and complexity conduct pastoral searches estimate the process normally takes 6 – 18 months. Our two most recent Pastoral searches indicate that range should be appropriate for us to use in setting our expectations.

How can I pray for the church, the Committee, and the process?

Please use this link to find our most recent requests for prayer support.

Will the Committee share information about their process and the candidates being considered before a candidate is presented?

The Committee will attempt to over-communicate with regards our process while maintaining absolute confidentiality with regards any people affected by that process. Please see our Commitment of Confidentiality for more detail.

How do I submit the name of a candidate for Senior Pastor?

Please send us the candidate’s name and current role, along with any other information you want us to know, at [email protected].

Why do PCA churches choose their own pastor?

The Book of Church Order, which is part of our denomination’s constitution, states that “The government of the Church is [conducted] by officers gifted to represent Christ, and the right of God’s people to recognize by election to office those so gifted is inalienable. Therefore no man can be placed over a church in any office without the election, or at least the consent of that church.” (Book of Church Order 16-2)1

This declaration is anchored in two truths. First, that the sole authority in the Church is the Lord Jesus Christ. Second, that any power excercised by the Church is committed to the Church by Christ and is vested in a priesthood of all believers who stand equal before God. If the Holy Spirit wishes any man to hold an office in a particular church, He uses those believers in that church to call that man to that office. Each particular church is the “sacred unit” for calling those who will lead them. So their collective voice must be respected. When members of a church differ, the expression of the majority through voting determines that collective voice and also calls into practice the principle of submission to the brethren.

Is the new Senior Pastor elected by a simple majority?

Yes … with two caveats. First, “On the election of a pastor, if it appears that a large minority of the voters are averse to the candidate who has received the majority of the votes, and cannot be induced to concur in the call, the moderator shall endeavor to dissuade the majority from prosecuting it further, but if the electors being nearly or quite unanimous, or if the majority shall insist upon their right to call Pastor, the moderator shall proceed to draw a call in due form, certifying at the same time in writing the number of those who do not concur in the call, and any facts of the importance, all of which proceedings shall be laid before the Presbytery, together with the call.” (Book of Church Order 20-5)1

The second exception addresses internal candidates, who must meet or exceed an 80% threshold. “The associate or assistant pastors may continue to serve a congregation when the pastoral relation of the senior pastor is dissolved, but they may not normally succeed the senior pastor without an intervening term of service in a different field of labor. However a congregation by a secret ballot with four- fifths (4/5) majority vote may petition Presbytery for an exception which by a three-fourths (3/4) majority vote Presbytery may grant. Presbytery needs to determine if the dissolution of the pastoral relationship with the senior pastor was brought about in Christian love and good order on the part of the parties concerned. (Book of Church Order 23-1)1

Two principles are at work here. First, unity is of paramount importance both to the peace and purity of the church and to the credibility of her external witness. Therefore, a church should take all reasonable steps to avoid the disunity which may result from pursuing a call in spite of principled objections by a sizable minority. Second, due to the fallen nature of man even a clear majority view can be in error. In that case the consciences of an unconvinced minority may offer a vital warning against such error. Therefore a church should take all reasonable steps to utilize, as a potential source of wisdom, the consciences of those holding objections.

What is the Presbytery’s role in choosing a pastor?

After the congregation has voted to approve a candidate, that congregation – by public vote – appoints a commission to “prosecute the call before its Presbytery.” “The Presbytery, having heard all the parties, may, upon reviewing the whole case, either recommend them to desist from prosecuting the call; or may order it to be delivered to the minister to whom it is addressed, with or without advice; or may decline to place a call in his hands; as it shall appear most beneficial for the peace and edification of the Church at large.”  (Book of Church Order  20-10)1

What are the qualifications for a Pastor (Teaching Elder) in the PCA?

Because the Pastor is so important to God’s people (Jeremiah 3:15) and because “those who teach shall be judged more strictly” (James. 3:1) great care is taken to properly qualify men for the calling of Teaching Elder (Pastor).  To become a Teaching Elder in the PCA a man must:

  • Earn a Bachelor or Master degree from an approved college or university
  • Also earn a Bachelor or Master degree from an approved theological seminary or a theological study program as approved by the General Assembly.
  • Serve a one-year internship while a member at a particular church under care by his Presbytery.
  • Meet the Constitutional requirements for the office of Elder as found in BCO 8-1 through 8-3.
  • Meet the Constitutional requirements for the calling of Teaching Elder as found in BCO 8-4 through 8-6.
  • Become licensed by passing an “ordination trial” that includes written and oral examinations covering:
    • A statement of his faith and his calling
    • Basic knowledge of doctrine as outlined in the Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.
    • Practical knowledge of Bible content and its application (Please see BCO 21-4-c  for the exhaustive list of  the 15 major components of “ordination trials”.)
  • Have been ordained into the PCA or else admitted by transfer as spelled out in BCO 13-6.1

What is the distinction between a Teaching Elder (Pastor) and a Ruling Elder?

According to the BCO the Scripture describes one office of Elder comprised of those who meet the Constitutional requirements found in BCO 8-1 through 8-3. As noted in 8-3 those believers “jointly and severally exercise government, shepherding, discipline, and oversight of the spiritual interests of their particular church and of the Church generally.”

But within that one office I Tim. 5:17 distinguishes two groupings. All elders are required to “rule well” (Greek καλῶς προεστῶτες, “diligently lead or influence”) and to be able to teach (I Tim. 3:2). But a sub-set of elders are called to diligently “labor [literally ‘exhaust themselves’] in the word and in doctrine.”  “Those elders who are gifted, called, and trained by God to preach may serve as teaching elders.” (please see BCO 7-2.)1

In our tradition teaching elders are not only uniquely called to “feed the flock by reading, expounding, and preaching the Word of God” but they alone can also “administer the sacraments” (BCO 8-5.),  specifically baptism (BCO 56-1.) and the Lord’s supper. (BCO 58-4 ff.)

According to scripture, what is a Pastor’s role?

The only scripture that specifically uses the English word “pastor” is Ephesians 4:11, 12. Those verses teach that God gave the church “pastors” as well as “evangelists” and “teachers” “to equipping the saints [the lay-members of the church] to do the work of ministry.”

Beyond that, Paul’s instructions to a young pastor in I and II Timothy can infer a more detailed “job description.”  The important duties that the Holy Spirit called out are:

  • Rightly handle the word of truth
  • Preach the word in season and out of season
  • Focus on teaching sound doctrine
  • Relentlessly refute erroneous doctrine
  • Pray for the church and its members
  • Teach a few individuals everything you know and teach them to teach those things to others
  • Pursue personal holiness in order to set a good example in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity within the church
  • Set a good example outside the church in the larger community
  • Suffer patiently, as necessary, for the sake of the gospel

1 For those who are not familiar with the Book of Church Order (BCO).

The BCO, along with the Scriptures and The Westminster Confession, comprise the Constitution of the PCA and several other conservative Reformed denominations. The BCO has a particular focus on the practical details of church governance and polity.  It is not inspired and is considered the least authoritative or binding of the 3 core documents.  That said, it is well-crafted and comprehensive. Since its original publication 231 years ago it has undergone constant scrutiny and regular refinement and updating in an attempt to capture the collected wisdom and experience of our current leaders, our fathers in the Reformed faith and their forefathers as reflected in Scripture.

If you have a question you want us to post and answer please send it our way by using this email address: [email protected]. Thank you.

Resources: Our Church

Church & Pastor Profile

This profile was developed to help potential candidates learn who we are as a church family and whether they might be a fit.


Book of Church Order

The Book of Church Order (BCO), part of the constitution of our denomination, offers guidance regarding a senior pastor, in chapters 20 & 23.

Chapter 20 | Chapter 23

Biblical Qualifications/Requirements of a Pastor

In his Word, God lays out the requirements for a pastor. We encourage you to dig into these scriptures in this time.

1 Tim 3:1-13, 2 Tim 4:2, Titus 1:5-9

Praying Together as a Church

As a church, we’re praying together in this season. Be encouraged by Isaiah 30:18 as we celebrate God’s grace and perfect timing: “Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.  For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.”


Resources: Our Committee

Confidentiality Covenant

This document outlines the confidentiality surrounding the work of the committee.

View Document

How We Evaluate Candidates

This document outlines the application and selection process, including a preliminary evaluation, an initial conversation, general review by all committee members, and sermon evaluation.


Search Committee Members

The Pastoral Search Committee includes the following church members: Dan Zimmerman, Chair; Bruce Young, Vice-Chair; Gene Goodell, Clerk; Ellis Chaplin, Leslie Hobbs, Tricia Hollis, Rachel Hooker, Erica Hotmire, Jim Perry, Don Solberg, Eric Treene, Margie Watkins, Mark Whittle.


Contact the Search Committee