Unexpected Ministerial Changes Coming To Several Chattanooga Denominations

Monday, June 09, 2014 - by Ruth Robinson

Ministerial changes are coming to Chattanooga, some expected and some a surprise. Expected every year are annual appointments at the Holston United Methodist Conference. Those will be announced later this week.

In the Methodist process, change or no change begins with the local church personnel committee. They take their wishes to the Chattanooga District Superintendent who takes any changes to the bishop.  Pastors are appointed one year at a time, from June to June. The Bishop makes the appointment in consultation with the cabinet, comprised of the bishop and the 12 district superintendents.

Pastoral appointments are then announced at general conference.

Those are expected. Several unexpected changes among other denominations have been coming over a period of several months. Dr. William Dudley, long-time beloved senior pastor at Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church, is winding down his ministry following an announcement many months ago that he would be retiring. He gave the church a lengthy time to find a new pastor and that process has been going forward.

Then just this past week Dr. Tim Filston told the congregation that over the past months, his family has been in conversation with First Presbyterian Church of Thomasville, GA. They have extended a call for him to be their senior pastor and he has accepted. The family will move from Signal Mountain this summer after 11 years.

"There’s always going to be a feeling of interruption and unfinished business when a season of ministry comes to a close.," Dr. Filston noted. "We know that nothing in this life is complete until the trumpet sounds, the Lord makes all things new, and we say "goodbye" to goodbyes. We will be here a number of weeks. I will work through the end of the month. Our plan at this point is to move at the end of July."

Earlier in the spring, Dr. J. Render Caines, long-time senior pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church, announced his retirement after 25 years in leading the church to the East Brainerd community and in construction of a large Anglo/Norman Romesque building with multiple and far-reaching ministries.

"In Chronicles 28:9-10, as Solomon faces the impending responsibility of becoming Israel’s leader, his father David urges him to seek the Lord, to be careful, to be strong and do it.," Dr. Caines said.

In line with the Presbyterian Church of America’s Book of Church Order, this spring the motion was begun toward the calling of a new pastor. This is a lengthy process, the pulpit committee has been appointed and is at work. Once the congregation and the candidate agree then the Presbytery makes the decision to call the pastor and to install him as the new senior pastor.

"This is a moment of great importance in the history and future of CPC. Therefore, I urge you to seek the Lord, to proceed carefully, to be strong in your faith and then do what is required," Dr. Cairnes said to the congregation.

Dr. J. Render Caines has been Senior Pastor since 1988. He has served as a trustee of Covenant College since 1985, and also serves as board member and an adjunct Professor of Biblical Studies. Dr. Caines graduated from Covenant College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. He also earned a Master of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary and a Doctorate of Ministry degree from Covenant Theological Seminary. Prior to coming to Covenant Presbyterian Church, Dr. Caines served on Grand Cayman Island, as well as Sparta, Illinois, Simpsonville, South Carolina and East Ridge, Tennessee. Dr. Caines has been an influential voice in the Presbyterian Church in America, serving as Stated Clerk of the Tennessee Valley Presbytery for eighteen years. He and his wife, Linda, have six children and twenty two grandchildren.

Dr. David Brown, long-time minister of Pilgrim Congregational Church, announced in April that he plans to retire at the end of the year. "While I know that this is the right time both for Pilgrim and for Barbara and me," Dr. Brown said, "this does not mean there are no regrets. I wish I was younger and could give another 10 years of service to you. But by the end of this year I will be nearly 77 years old. I do not feel that old but it is something I have to take seriously."

Recently Dr. Brown marked the 50th anniversary of his ordination. This also is the year when the church will celebrate it’s 100th anniversary. He said he hopes the next eight months will be a time of celebration and progress.

"Serving as pastor of Pilgrim Church has been the most meaningful ministry in my career." Dr. Brown said.  "Each of the 12 churches I have served had their own challenges and rewards, but Pilgrim is special.

"From my long ago days as a Boy Scout, I remember that we were told to leave a campsite better than we found it. This is in no way a criticism of those who served here before me, but I do believe I am leaving Pilgrim Church in a better place than I found it. This is something we have accomplished together. I am so grateful for what all of you have done in working with me to make this happen. A pastor is no better than the people and you are a great congregation."

A final thought, he said is that "you need have no concern about Pilgrim’s future. There are many fine younger clergy in the United Church of Christ who will be delighted to be considered for this ministry. At an appropriate time, you and your leaders will elect an interim pastor and a search committee to select a new pastor. Someone is going to be very fortunate to be chosen."

Finally in the current list of changes are two ministers at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Associate Rector Suzanne Smitherman will retire in September. A church leader for the past nine years, she  made the decision this spring.

Andy Olivo who has been at St. Paul’s as a seminarian, curate and associate rector, will leave this week to become assistant rector at St. John’s Church, Lafayette Square, in the Diocese of Washington, D.C.


Fall Festival/Trunk Or Treat At Orchard Missionary Baptist

Orchard Knob Missionary Baptist Church,1734 East Third St., is hosting a fall festival and trunk or treat on Saturday from 1-4 p.m.  Ages 4-11 are welcome to come for fun, games, food, and candy. The event is free and they request no costumes, please. For more information, contact the church at 423-629-6115. -- (click for more)

Heritage Pointe Baptist Hosts Harvest Hangout Oct. 31

Heritage Pointe Baptist Church, located at 60 Dyer Bridge Place in Ringgold, will host a Harvest Hangout with a bonfire, hot dogs, hayride and trunk of treat on Friday, Oct. 31 from 6-8 p.m. The event is free and everyone is welcome to attend.   If you need more information please call  706/858-0976 . (click for more)

2 People Shot Saturday Night On Carousel Road

Two people were shot Saturday evening on Carousel Road. At  9:11 p.m. , Chattanooga Police responded to 1406 Carousel Road on a call of a person shot. One victim on the scene suffered minor injuries.  Another victim was transported by personal vehicle to a local hospital. The s econd victim suffered non-life-threatening injuries.  The suspect ... (click for more)

Teenager Killed In ATV Accident Thursday Night

Damon Lee Jones, 15, was killed Thursday night in an ATV accident in Walker County. It was reported he was riding with a 17-year old, when they tried to enter a church parking lot, but ran into a cable barrier. The accident happened on Dunwoody Road in LaFayette. The other rider, identified as Timothy J. Wallin, was not injured.   (click for more)

Tom Dugan Was A Good Man

Tom was my boss for most of my 36 years at Carta.  At the ceremony where I was awarded my 30-year service award, Tom said, "Don disagrees with 85% of my decisions, but I wish I had 80 more employees just like him." This kind of indicates our relationship. When I asked him to help with my plans for a reunion for the group of Veterans that I served with in Vietnam, he quickly ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: More Sunday Funnies

On the last Sunday before Daylight Savings Time disappears next week, let’s go to my jokes back for some grins and giggles: * * * An old gentleman was on the operating table awaiting surgery and he insisted that his son-in-law, a renowned surgeon, perform the operation.  As he was about to get the anesthesia, he asked to speak to his son-in-law. “Yes, Dad, what is ... (click for more)