October 7 will be the first “official” day of ministry with our new Interim Pastor, The Rev. Dr. Janice Lee Fitzgerald, a specialized Transitional Pastor. Inquiring minds want to know:
What should we call you? I invite all adults and children to call me “Janice”. I was very moved as a student pastor when an elderly member of the congregation explained to me that at that church “we take our baptisms very seriously. We are welcomed into the body of Christ with a name but not with any titles. So we honor each other by using our Christian names instead of titles.” I find that children treat this privilege with great respect.
We’ve already finished our CAT scan. What specific transitional work do you expect to do with us? The CAT scan results will give the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) much vital information. As things move ahead in my first weeks with you I am anticipating that we will plan an all congregational gathering or two to supplement the CAT results with a deeper look at the history of our congregation, especially to see what it might tell us about the pastoral personality traits and leadership styles that might most fruitfully fit in here. Then, in additional to doing all of the wonderful things that happen here throughout any given year, we will begin the work you will choose to do to maintain and enlarge your ministry and vitality based on the CAT scan results. A very important part of this year will also be to explore how to make having one pastor plus a youth coordinator work instead of two pastors – vitally important information in a year or so when you will determine which model to carry forth into the future.
What special qualifications do you have for Interim Ministry? As you know, intentional Interim Pastors (also called Transitional Pastors) must successfully complete three phases of specialized training. In addition, I have completed the Doctor of Ministry program at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary specializing in interim ministry. Perinton Presbyterian is the tenth church that I will have served as an Interim Pastor.
While not specifically needed at Perinton Presbyterian, you might be interested to know that I have been trained by the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center and have been serving very part time as the Mediation Coordinator for the Regional Synod of Albany of the Reformed Church in America. As service to the larger church, I am a professional Ministry and Leadership Coach certified by the International Coach Federation and can provide coaching for church pastors and Certified Ruling Elders serving churches, leaders of new ministries and ministry teams (such as the Session I will coach at their retreat in September as they work to envision what their congregation’s call to ministry will be in the next ten years and what they need to begin doing now to be reading for anticipated societal and community changes)
What did you do before coming here? I am currently completing a term of service as the Interim Pastor at Robinson Elmwood United Church in Syracuse. I have also served Presbyterian churches in Ontario Center, Irondequoit, Pittsford, Elmira, Horseheads, Greece and Bath, NY, as well as United Church of Christ congregations in Irondequoit and Buffalo and the Pultneyville Reformed Church. In my first career I was a Registered Nurse which included a number of years as the nurse manager in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Strong.
Where do you live? Do any members of your family live with you? I purchased my home in Irondequoit twenty-two years ago. Since marriage and children have not yet been part of God’s plan for my life, I live alone.
What’s the best way to reach you? You can reach me or leave messages for me on my church office phone. If there is a pastoral emergency when the church is closed, my voicemail message there will give you my cell phone number. Starting October 7, my church email address will be: [email protected]
When are your days off? I expect to work diligently with and for you on Saturdays through Wednesdays. My regular day off and Sabbath are scheduled for Thursdays and Fridays. I won’t be at the church those days unless there is a funeral, wedding or crisis.
Where might we run into you when you aren’t at church? Some of the time I might be online or on the phone coaching ministry leaders from Massachusetts to Michigan and Ohio to Georgia. But you definitely might see me at Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra concerts (Phils and Pops), at GEVA Theater, walking on the Erie Canal path, doing deep water aerobics or quilting at my sewing machine – and there is always Wegmans.
Could you stay and be our next Pastor? No, the ethical guidelines for intentional Interim Pastors do not ordinarily allow us to stay at a church as the next Installed Pastor. If we spent our time trying to impress a search committee we wouldn’t be able to ask the challenging questions and do the hard work that best helps a congregation move through the transition time.
Are you excited about ministering here with us? Most definitely. I am very impressed with the vibrant worship and programming for children and teens that you maintain and the warm welcome you give to differently abled adults and community groups during the week. I am especially looking forward to getting to know each of you and sharing this next year or so together.