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9/15/2019 Moving Forward Update

Park Place Search Committee Update (September 15, 2019)

One of my favorite parts of the service is when children are invited to come forward to go to Godly Play. I think it’s because you never know what might happen. So I am excited today to invite all children age 4 and older to come to the Godly Play banner. And if we have any parents who would like to join your children in Godly Play, you are most welcome.

Good morning! I am Lolly Bargerstock. I am currently serving as chair of the Lead Pastor Search Committee and am here to provide an update on the process. Since the end of May, we have reviewed 17 applications and approximately 35 recommended names from various sources. From those possibilities, we have narrowed the field to five applicants and are getting ready for the next step which will be initial interviews. We are excited and looking forward to these conversations.

During one particular committee meeting, we discussed ways we have been working to stay in tune with God during this time. One person mentioned that they walk around and through the church praying. One person mentioned their practice of fasting. I, myself, walk the prayer labyrinth across the street. In case you haven’t seen the labyrinth, I have a photo for you here. I love prayer labyrinths. It is a time in which I perceive myself as very literally walking with God.

Although it looks like a maze, the prayer labyrinth is not a maze. There is typically one way in and one way out. No dead ends. No possibility of making a wrong choice on the path. There is no prescribed pace to walk the labyrinth. Although Kathryn Womack-States assures me it is possible to walk it so quickly you get dizzy.

I am someone who likes finding the most direct route from point A to point B. So you can see how a labyrinth might be a challenge for me. And when you are in the labyrinth, the visual of the path is very deceiving. Sometimes just as you think you are moving close to the center, the path takes you back out to the farthest edge.

Most often, God and I walk together in silence but occasionally I hear a word or two. One day this past week as I approached the labyrinth, I noticed tire marks all over the sidewalk leading up to the labyrinth. You see, the university is further developing and beautifying the area and right now, some things are messy. I have to admit I was a bit annoyed. I guess I like a clear and pristine entryway to my walk with God. In my annoyance, I slipped off my shoes, took a few deep breaths, and entered the labyrinth. Not far into the labyrinth, I heard these words…”It’s okay to be in the mess. It’s okay to be in the mess.” This is a message God has been giving me for a long time, one that I have to learn and relearn. The director of my PhD program used to counsel us that feeling confused and stuck in the mud of a research question or design was not only completely normal but a necessary part of the process. Thank you God that it’s okay to be in the mess.

Now please don’t go from this place and tell anyone Lolly said the Search Committee is in a mess or stuck in the mud. That is not what I am meaning to say and it wouldn’t be an accurate depiction. You might say the committee is walking the path, weaving in and out, slowing down as to not get dizzy, speeding up a bit as to not get stuck, continuing to move in spite of messes, not knowing exactly how close we are but always, always walking in the presence of God.

Dear Mother/Father God,

You have taught us to lead with gratitude…to recognize the bounty we have been given…and to offer ourselves up to you. Accept this joyful offering as a token of our abiding love: use it to bring peace, justice and comfort to all the world, Amen.

9/10/2019 Moving Forward Update

Good morning,

For those who do not know me, I am Ken Nieman, a member of the Servant Leadership Board and I also serve as Church Treasurer.

I am taking these next few minutes, on behalf of the Servant Leadership Board, to provide you with a “Moving Forward” update with an emphasis on the church’s finances.

The Servant Leadership Board met this past Tuesday. And, by the way, thank you for your prayers on our behalf. They are deeply appreciated and felt. The wonderful diversity of Park Place is evident in our discussions where we are putting into practice “Unity not Uniformity.” We are being ably led by Janet Brewer, our chair.

Part of our conversation on Tuesday was sharing about the underpinnings of anticipation, excitement, and growth we see evidenced on many fronts across Park Place. While we may be in a search for a new lead pastor that does not mean that we are not moving forward. We are! Here are a few items:

  • As already announced a Welcome Lunch is happening today that will include 20 persons who are new to our congregation and who are interested in becoming more involved with Park Place.

  • We have become more intentional in welcoming folks visiting Park Place with a new print piece and updated welcome space.

  • Park Place sponsored a SOT Chapel lunch recently, engaging with students and providing them with information about the mentoring partnership program and other Park Place ministries.

  • And related to that, 13 AU students will be participating in the EYA Mentor Partnership Program this semester. Thank you to those who had agreed to serve as a mentor (we actually had more than needed) and to those who have been assigned a university student mentee.

  • Team of young adult men volunteered several hours to trim shrubbery around the perimeter of the building. Thank you.

  • We have implemented a three phase prayer connection for our search process. I hope you are being prompted to pray by the bracelets, your smart phone screen, or printed prayer guide.

  • We are being challenged through thoughtful, well-studied, pastoral preaching by our preaching team through the book of Ephesians.

Next week Lolly Bargerstock, chair of the search committee will be providing us with an update on their work. That group, which I know you have been praying for as well, has been meeting weekly and working diligently on our behalf. As a committee they have sought clarification from the SLB on a couple matters that we, in turn, have wrestled with, providing them with our feedback.

Now regarding our finances.
While final figures are still subject to change pending the completion of the audit it would appear that we have ended the fiscal year with a modest surplus of $27,000. That is made up of an $18,000 deficit attributed to the church’s operating budget offset by a $45,000 surplus coming from the operations of the Children’s Center.

Our collective contributions to the operational budget fell short of budget by about $70,000. That shortfall was offset by $24,000 in other income and by underspending on the expense side by $28,000.

A more detailed financial report will be shared at our annual business meeting in November. The details of our financial reports are always available and I am, along with any member of the SLB, available to share that information with you, hear your concerns, or answer your questions.

You will recall that, in approving our 2019-2020 budget, we reduced the budgeted income from contributions in an anticipation of not meeting the 2018-2019 budget amount. The good news is that, through the first two months of the current fiscal year, we are keeping pace with our projections. Your continuing financial support is so very much appreciated.

The Blessings that you provide are evident every day. We do not wish to take them for granted. And as we provide support, both in time and money, to this church, Park Place Church of God, may our efforts join with others in the furtherance of your Kingdom here an earth.

6/17/2019 Moving Forward Update

Sunday, July 14, 10:30 am Worship will be Pastor Markle’s final Sunday with us as Lead Pastor. Save the date and plan to join us in celebration of Pastor David Markle and his faithful service to his Lord and to the Park Place congregation. A celebration lunch in his honor will follow worship in the Fellowship Hall. It is very important to RSVP for the luncheon by Friday, July 5 in the Narthex on Sundays, by calling the church office, 642- 0216, or by emailing

As Servant Leadership Board member, Ethan Harting, said on Sunday there’s a lot of information to share with you in this update!  If you would like to review previous Updates, visit our newly revamped website @

First, we want to let you know that Laura Poole has joined the Lead Pastor Search Team.  This addition was made so that our congregation’s demographics are more fully represented.  The Lead Pastor Search Team meets on Monday evenings.  Please continue to keep the search process and the Search Team in your prayers.  Members are Lolly Bargerstock, chair, John Pistole, Blake Janutolo, Steve Fridley, Leah Helvering, Julie Short, Laura Poole, and David Sebastian.  


At our Mid-Year Meeting on June 9, 2019, the Church’s Annual Budget was presented and voted upon.  The vote was 88 Yes; 3 No; and 1 Abstention. 

On the ballot there is space for comments and we want to acknowledge these:

·       There was a question concerning if a quorum was present at the meeting.  Our Bylaws state the following: “Seventy-five (75) members in attendance, registered and eligible to participate, shall constitute a quorum for the conduct of business at any regular or special meeting of the corporation.”

  • Other comments:

o   Concern with the reduction of the outreach budget; Bob Edwards indicated that the combined Outreach and Faith Promise budgets total 11%, Outreach Team members are Gwen Johnson, Blake Alford, Kathy Simpson, Graeme States, Kirsten Streit-Harting, Pastor Markle and Andrew Gale.  The Team has formulated a working mission statement/strategy: Park Place Members will be the hands (the doing), the feet (the going) and the voice (the speaking) of Christ in our community and in our world.  The Team desires for Park Place’s outreach efforts to go deeper, not broader.  The Outreach Team is in agreement with the cuts to the outreach budget, because they believe in the need for a balanced budget.  No reduction is being made in Living Link supports. The two main reductions in outreach are from amounts given to Indiana Ministries and Church of God Ministries (national office). 

    • Provide more details about the budget (several commented on this as well as getting it more in advance of the meeting)

    • Praying for growth and continued giving

A Preaching Team has been formed.  Serving on that Team are Andrew Gale, Courtney Rice-Alford, Gilbert Lozano, and MaryAnn Hawkins.  They will begin “filling the pulpit” on Sunday, July 28, preaching through the book of Ephesians.  The plan is for this series to run up to Advent.  David Sebastian will be preaching on Sunday, July 21, “New Beginnings,” Acts 19:1-10; John 20:19-23.

The Sacred Places team attended the first workshop of the program and are busy preparing for the second workshop, hosted at Park Place, on July 20.  The team reported that this is a great program and that they can see several benefits for our Church.  However, there is a lot of work involved and it seems overwhelming at this time.  Please pray for the team (and be ready to assist if asked).  Members are Kirsten Streit-Harting, Ken Nieman, Lori Dixon, Karen Soetenga, Don Boggs, and Marvin Ginn.

Pastor Josh is pleased to announce the formation of the Family Ministry Team. Members are Ben & Janell Flesher, Michaela Hammel, Kathy Simpson, Darlene Stafford, and Lydia Stanton-Roark.  Pastor Josh says, "I could not be more thrilled to serve alongside these amazing individuals. I believe they all bring unique gifts, talents, and experiences, and I can’t wait to help equip and empower them all to lead our church into this new chapter."

Engaging Young Adults -- Have you visited the Church's website lately? Through the Engaging Young Adult grant, we were able to contract with Fishhook, an innovative communications and creative services firm, to revitalize our website.  Check it out @


I am pleased to update you in this Moving Forward communication on our progress in the search for our next Lead Pastor and plans for an interim preaching team. In beginning the process, the Servant Leadership Board and Staff Ministry Team first consulted the Bylaws, specifically Article VI, Section 2 and Article VII, Section 3. Both Sections charge the Servant Leadership Board with establishing the process and supervising the process. Specifically these Sections read as follows:

Article VI, Section 2: Servant Leadership Role

#7.  Establish a process for calling the Lead Pastor, set that pastor’s compensation package and leave policy, and present the candidate’s name to the congregation for a corporate decision.

Article VII: The Lead Pastor, Section 3 – Calling and Tenure

The Servant Leadership Board establishes and supervises the process of search and selection of a candidate for the role of Lead Pastor.  Once a candidate is approved by the Board, it sets the proposed compensation package and leave policy, gains the willingness of the candidate to serve, and then presents the candidate to a meeting of the corporation.  The corporation, in a regular or special business meeting, must formally call the candidate by a seventy-five (75%) or more affirmative vote.

 The process decided upon is traditional in nature.  A Search Committee is formed and charged with identifying and recommending to the Servant Leadership Board a candidate for the Lead Pastor position.  The SLB will then schedule a time for the candidate to meet with the Staff Ministry Team and congregation.  This time of candidating will be followed by a business meeting during which a vote on the candidate will be held.

In selecting persons for the Search Committee, we (SLB & SMT) worked towards forming a group that would represent the Park Place congregation in gender, age, and theological diversity.  Along with Rev. Dr. David Sebastian as an ad hoc member, these six persons have agreed to serve –

  • John Pistole

  • Lolly Bargerstock

  • Blake Janutolo

  • Steve Fridley

  • Leah Helvering     

  • Julie Short

A joint meeting of the Search Committee, SLB, and SMT is scheduled for Tuesday, May 28.  A time of prayer and commissioning of the Search Committee is scheduled for Sunday, June 2.  

A complete description of the Lead Pastor position and the job announcement is available on the Park Place Church of God website. The position was posted to the Church of God Ministry Connector, a connecting tool for individuals seeking ministry opportunities and for Church of God congregations with open positions, on Friday, May 10, and the description and job announcement has been shared with 20+ individual Pastors, Executives in the Church of God, and educators.  If you would like to recommend a possible candidate for the position, please do so in writing to the Search Committee using the email address noted in the job announcement ( or through the Church Office.

Plans for an Interim Preaching Team of 4-5 individuals are beginning to come together and will be shared soon.


Park Place Church of God has been accepted into the Indiana Landmarks Sacred Places Project!  This program “...trains congregations to fundraise—not the traditional fish fry model—and harness their houses of worship for outreach and growth.”

  • The program selects up to ten congregations for intensive training in landmark stewardship, community engagement, and fundraising.  Following the training, congregations are eligible to compete for Sacred Places Indiana grants for planning and capital improvements.

  • Park Place Team: Kirsten Streit-Harting, Lori Dixon, Ken Nieman, Karen Soetenga, and Don Boggs 

Rev. Dr. David Sebastian, experienced in pastoral transitions (with twelve churches), has agreed to be our Interim Consulting Pastor during the time we will need to take to engage our next Lead Pastor. This will include oversight for and service to the Search Committee; consult for SLB and SMT; and consult for Pastor Markle in his remaining time with Park Place.   

During the next few months and for the interim period after Pastor Markle’s last day, the SLB has asked Pastor Carma Wood to take on the additional role of Interim Executive Pastor; she will continue in her current role as Worship and Arts Pastor, too.  Generally speaking, an Executive Pastor oversees a church's operations, administration, finances, and human resources to achieve the church’s mission and vision. Executive Pastors lead and oversee the church staff.  At Park Place many of these responsibilities have been with the person serving as Lead Pastor with the assistance of other members of the Staff Ministry Team. Pastor Carma will be meeting regularly with staff members and overseeing the church’s operations; when questions arise, she will be the go-to person with the Chair of the SLB “on call” as needed. It is with Pastor Markle’s encouragement that we move forward with this appointment. 

The newly reformed Outreach Team met for a half-day Retreat and Andrew Gale led as facilitator. During this time they focused on beginning steps in the development of a Mission Strategy.  Another 2-hour retreat is to be held within the next month.  Names of team members are -- Bob Edwards/team leader, Gwen Johnson, Kathy Simpson, Graeme States, Blake Alford, David Markle, Andrew Gale, and Kirsten Streit-Harting. 

Work on the 2019-2020 budget is underway. 

Mark your calendars: Mid-year Business Meeting & Lunch, June 9, 2019, immediately following worship. 


Pastor David Markle has announced his resignation. His last day as Lead Pastor at Park Place will be July 15, 2019. We are thankful for his 18 years of faithful service to our congregation. A full statement from the Servant Leadership Board can be found here.


Joshua Mifflin has begun service as Family Ministries Pastor, Steve Hency is wrapping up a very effective and brief time as Interim Pastor with Children and their Parents. Steve will continue serving actively in educational ministries. Pastor Josh will be taking Godly Play training March 8 – 10 in Cincinnati.

A refreshed Outreach Team is being formed and led by Bob Edwards.

Prayer gathering opportunities during Lent will be offered in the Prayer Chapel, Thursdays at the noon hour and as a Wednesday evening 6 pm option. Courtney Rice is coordinating.

Hospitality emphasis focuses on “Making Room” involving most Adult Sunday school classes during March. Pray that we will “warm up the welcome” at Park Place.

Elizabeth Weller has been recommended by the Children’s Center Search Team and Servant Leadership Board to serve as Director of Park Place Children’s Center. A congregational vote will be held at a Special Business Meeting on Sunday, March 17 following the morning worship.

We have had an initial meeting with David Frederick from Sacred Places Indiana. Sacred Places Indiana selects up to ten congregations each year for intensive training in Landmark stewardship, community engagement, and fundraising. Four to six people from each congregation participate in Partners for Sacred Places’ New Dollars/New Partners training. We are beginning the application process.


  • Transition: Pastor Markle has been engaging in positive conversations with the Servant Leadership Board regarding transition in 2019. Next steps will be communicated as they are determined.

  • Moving forward: A special service of "Confession and Communion" is coming Sunday, February 3. Be with us!

  • Exercises in Flexibility: A number of young adults are engaging flexibility by sitting in a different place in the Sanctuary during worship this month. You might, too. Youth will be sitting together on the front left of the Sanctuary on the first Sunday of the month. 

  • A common curriculum in Hospitality will be offered in participating Adult Sunday School classes during March. Come, learn, and experience Biblical, historical, and practical expressions of our Lord's welcome to our neighbors.

  • Engaging Young Adults mentorship program is serving around a dozen AU students. In addition, an EYA team will be meeting with an organization who specializes in communications in the church in the coming weeks.

  • Prayer Labyrinth will be available in the Fellowship Hall this Sunday, January 27 until thirty minutes after the morning worship ends.


We will move forward on the wings of faithful prayer. Let us pray daily and regularly for pastors, leaders, and all the people of Park Place Church of God.

Staff Ministry Team is beginning each weekly staff meeting with focused prayer and attention for 30 minutes seeking “low hanging fruit” and deeper issues around our greatest priorities: “Developing a comprehensive strategy to reach new people and incorporate them into the life of the church” and “Making necessary changes to attract families with children and youth to our church.”

Pray with us for a fruitful gathering of Servant Leadership Board and Staff Ministry Team members to discover applications of “Findings and Recommendations” from the consultation process on Saturday, January 19.

Watch for opportunities to participate in Congregational Discussion Groups seeking to discover “next steps” during February.