Succession

Succession

A word from Pastor Greg

Church Family,

Serving on the pastoral team of Sherwood Park Alliance for nearly 17 years has been the privilege of a lifetime. Thank you for doing life and ministry with me!

The fact that you’ve ended up here may be an indication that you’ve heard some news which I recently made public: I sense the time is right for me to step out of my role and let a next generation leader take us into the next era. I plan to resign as Lead Pastor later this year.

For some time, I’ve been processing my life, tenure, desires, and sense of call. This has not been a solo experience. My wife, Corrine, is my primary confidant and the source of considerable wisdom. Our kids and their significant others are a close second. I’m also blessed with several wise friends and mentors who watch me and my life closely. Plus, I have a therapist and a spiritual director – it takes a village!

It was in late October 2023 that I felt confident enough to begin sharing this journey openly with the Board of Elders, and since that time they have been walking with me, praying for me, and supporting me in exemplary ways. I thank God for their kindness and faithfulness. Our organization is being well served and is in good hands. Thus far, the Board has embraced the concept of intentional succession, a strategic process conducted with openness, transparency, stakeholder engagement, and (we all hope)

HIGH TRUST. One of our key leaders expressed it like this: “If we can do this with high maturity and low stupidity, we have an opportunity to model what it looks like for deeply rooted followers of Jesus to navigate change.” Let it be so!

Succession Planning

Succession planning has been shaping our Board meetings since October and resulted in additional meetings in November and December. The staff Executive Team has been engaged throughout, and our Elders are being supported by our Western Canadian District Superintendent. What this means practically is that we anticipate moving our succession process beyond the Preparation Phase (our current posture) to a Selection Phase (explained below) in March and April. We plan to finalize our process and timelines at our Board retreat in mid-February, but the working draft expresses a goal of naming our next Lead Pastor in May, with the successful candidate assuming the role in early fall. As we move further into 2024, I anticipate having additional opportunities to share how I arrived here, and what may be next for me, so stay tuned! Regular updates will be posted on this page and in our newsletters. In the meantime, the Board and I have provided brief answers to some anticipated questions, which you can read below.

As all this unfolds, please remember that this is a deeply spiritual process which calls for prayer and recognition of God’s leading. I thank God for you and welcome your participation in this Intentional Succession journey.

-Greg Hochhalter

Information

Thank you for being here!  As we walk through the next few months together, this page is here as a communication tool.  The Elder board is there to answer any of your questions or concerns at anytime. This page will be updated as we move along the timeline.

Update

May 3rd, 2024 | This week the Succession Sub-Committee completed their assignment, and they have submitted their report. Please continue to pray for the Elders as the full board prayerfully discerns next steps in the succession process.

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April 8th, 2024 | The Lead Pastor role at Sherwood Park Alliance Church is now closed for applications. Thank you for your continued prayers and support as we step into the next part of this process.

Timeline

Our hopeful timeline

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Intentional Succession?

When a pastor initiates a transition and signals to the Board that they should prepare to hand leadership to another, we call this intentional succession. The goals include modelling healthy transition and preparing the church for the next era of ministry. Every church is unique, and every succession scenario has its own complexities, but typical succession processes include four phases: Preparation, Selection, Transition, and Continuation.

Preparation Phase

Proactive Approach: Since the outgoing Lead Pastor has initiated succession, this phase can be more strategic and less reactive. The outgoing pastor works with the Board in creating a succession plan, ensuring alignment with the church’s Purpose, Priorities, and essential Practices. The process can be more orderly and less hurried, allowing for thorough preparation and widespread involvement of the congregation.

Selection Phase

Inclusive Process The SPAC Board of Elders expects to create a subcommittee of the Board, known as the Succession Committee. The composition of the committee will include current Elders and additional congregational members. The committee will listen to input and support the Elders by reviewing and interviewing applicants while being supported by the District Superintendent of The Alliance Canada, Western Canadian District. When the committee reaches consensus, they will recommend a short list of candidates for consideration by the Board of Elders.

Transition Phase

Mentorship: The outgoing Lead Pastor continues in their role while serving as a mentor to the incoming leader, providing guidance, sharing insights, and navigating the handover. This type of collaborative approach, with the outgoing pastor championing the new leader to the congregation, is a way to welcome and prepare for the final succession phase.

Continuation Phase

Legacy and Stability: The outgoing Lead Pastor steps aside, and a new Lead Pastor assumes the role while respecting the church’s legacy and maintaining a degree of continuity. Enhanced Confidence: The congregation feels confident and secure in the church’s future, knowing that succession was thoughtfully planned and executed.

FAQ

He hasn’t, at least not yet! Pastor Greg has informed the Board that he intends to step down from the role of Lead Pastor later this year. Watch his public announcement here for more of the back story, including some specifics about his desire for change and where he believes he will continue to make a positive impact on our wider community.

Pastor Greg shared the news during the weekend gatherings on January 27 & 28, 2024.

We have outlined a hopeful timeline for the selection of our new Lead Pastor, which you can view above. This timeline reflects our commitment to a thorough and prayerful search process.

The mission and vision of Sherwood Park Alliance Church is grounded in our “3 P’s:” our Purpose, Priorities, and essential Practices. While leadership changes naturally result in some degree of culture change, our Board and Staff leaders are committed to remaining faithful to the path we began articulating in mid-2023. Our next Lead Pastor is expected to be someone who aligns with these core convictions.

We deeply value the power of prayer and are wholly dependent on the leading of God’s Spirit. Please pray for our Elders, the Succession Committee, Pastor Greg, Staff members and all who lead and participate in our church and school ministry. And of course, please pray for our next Lead Pastor!

More information to come in March about the Succession Committee

Given our chosen succession model, an Interim pastor is not required. Pastor Greg is committed to guiding our church throughout the succession process and potentially beyond if necessary.

Our succession model is designed to encourage a smooth transition. While there's always a learning curve with any change, we trust that God will guide us to the best outcome for our church and school ministries.

Absolutely! Your thoughts and concerns are important to the Elders and the Succession Committee. You may provide feedback to the Board of Elders or to the Succession Committee by email.

Updated March 2024

The Succession Committee is comprised of 3 elders:

  • Andrea Priebe (chair),
  • Andy Trevoy,
  • Grace Albers/Trent Forsberg
  • 3 members of the congregation:
  • Ruth Tjostheim,
  • Nathan Sinnamon,
  • Melanie Russell.

Your prayers for the work of committee are deeply appreciated. To join the prayer team click here. To contact the committee please do so by emailing!

As Pastor Greg mentioned in his public announcement, one factor motivating his timing is the health of our church and staff. Our staff team is stable and healthy and is made up of an enviable mix of veterans and a dynamic group of younger pastors and staff. While other changes may come, we appreciate our current staff members, and we will support them as they navigate this change.

Our Elders and Succession Committee will prayerfully discern the character, competency, chemistry, and capacity requirements of our next Lead Pastor, and will craft an updated job description along with church and community profiles. Please click here to see the updated Ministry and Lead Pastor Profile.

Stay informed through updates at www.spac.ca/succession, our social media channels, and our weekly e-newsletter. We are committed to maintaining transparency throughout this journey.


Pastor Greg is fully focused on supporting our church throughout this transition. Details about his future will be shared as they come into focus, but his immediate priority is finishing well and shepherding our church family. He does not intend to pursue a pastoral role in another church, and he and Corrine expect Sherwood Park/Edmonton to remain their home.

The Board has met with Brody, affirmed his gifting, and believe he is a viable candidate. They have welcomed him to enter into the process, to which Brody has agreed. Prayers for Brody, Jodie, and their family are certainly encouraged!

The Board of Elders believes it’s in the best interests of the church, as well as the next Lead Pastor, that the succession process be thorough. We want to do our due diligence so that the congregation and next Lead Pastor know that the best decision has been made for the church, staff and school according to God’s leading.