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The Pastor Call Process

Say Goodbye to Pastor Russell Smith

On November 12, 2020, the congregation of Covenant-First Presbyterian Church said “Goodbye” to long-term pastor Russell Smith.  Russell Smith began his ministry at Covenant-First on April 1, 2001.

Elemental Churches Team Organized

Covenant-First Presbyterian Church began a six-month long process to focus on goals for the congregation. This team was a cross-section of congregational leaders and staff: Rod Crousey, elder, Rob Heidenreich, Clerk of Session; Genita Heidenreich, Church Administrator; Jamie Jewell, elder; Barbara Lambing, deacon; Mike Millhaem, elder; Yolanda Parker, Choir Director; Cindy Standen, deacon. Lisa Allgood participated in her role as Executive Presbyter and CFPC member and the congregation’s interim pastor, Robert Anderson, also participated as an ad hoc member of the team. These members embarked on a six-month study with resources paid for by the Presbytery of Cincinnati's Living Churches Initiative (which is funded in large part by a Lilly Grant).  Using materials entitled Elemental Churches, the work amplified the discernment process and is part of our pastoral transition. 


Begin Ministry with Interim Transition Pastor Robert Anderson

Our interim pastor, Rev. Dr. Robert C. Anderson, began his ministry with us on Monday, January 4, 2021. Bob is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell (Masters) and McCormick (Doctorate) seminaries, and for most of his career has served as an interim pastor in churches of all sizes.  Most recently, in greater Cincinnati, he served as interim pastor at The Presbyterian Church of Wyoming, and before that, at Crestview Presbyterian Church.  He also served on the faculty of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary for 18 years, leading training programs for interim/transitional pastors.  Bob is a passionate Bible preacher and teacher, who tells us he "comes from a long line of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians — but grew up in a conservative Baptist home!"  He and his wife Susan live in Monroe, Ohio. 

Elemental Churches Mission Study

Over the course of six months, the 10 members of the Elemental Churches Team held a series of day-long sessions to take a critical look at where Covenant-First is today and what we envision for its future. 

The Elemental Churches Mission Study evaluates four elements: 

 Earth:  Institutional Integrity – the systems that unify all the parts of any successful church

  • Do we have a vision that can be clearly understood?

  • Are the processes in place to ensure that our mission is achieved?

  • Do all processes and people should work together?

Fire:  Passion – a strong desire to see things happen with, in, and through people

  • Do we harness the passion that God has placed within us all to advance the Kingdom of God?

  • Do we generate passion within our membership?

  • Do we celebrate our success in a way the honors God while encouraging people?

Water:  Servanthood – outward focus express, putting other needs before our own.

  • Do we fulfill our biblical calling to model God’s grace in tangible ways?

  • Do we fulfill our social responsibility by adding value to our community?

  • Do we give individual believers the opportunity to imitate Christ by serving others?

Air:  Imagination – the ability to creatively adopt to a changing world

  • Are we maintaining a clear commitment to core values?

  • Do we encourage and reward creative thinking?


For each session, we asked God to lead us to the path he would have us take, beginning with 30-minutes of individual prayer and reflection on scripture: Father, what should be ask for on behalf of our church?


The various steps in the process included:

  • Inventory – a critical look at CFPC: who we are, and where God is guiding us.

  • EnVision – what is our mission? Who are we trying to reach? How can we share the gift of Jesus Christ in our own community?

  • Values – what do we want Covenant-First to be known for?


The output from this process included clear values and goals for the future of Covenant-First.  Ultimately, the Session adopted the goals (see below) proposed by the Elemental Churches team in the Stated Meeting of September 13, 2021.  Now our collective challenge is to live into the goals as we work to continue to grow the ministry of our congregation in this growing neighborhood where God had placed us.

Elemental Churches Create Strategic Plan

Our Values

  • Biblical Authority: We uphold and proclaim the truth of Scripture, which serves as the foundation for our worship and our life as a Christian community.  

  • We celebrate God both individually and together as a part of our traditional, Reformed theology.

  • We help people of all ages grow in their faith through our worship and through participation in our Christian community.

  • We strive to communicate our values in a way that enables people to hear, understand, and relate to those values.

  • Outward focus. We look, think, and act with a Christian purpose that goes beyond our membership.


Our Goals

  • Build a congregation of disciples fully committed to their spiritual walk with Jesus Christ

  • Develop a sustainable outreach ministry within the local downtown community (within a 20-minute walk of the church) to provide a spiritual home that is safe and nurturing and to help them find the point where God opens the window to get them engaged.    We want to foster a sense of belonging and continued spiritual growth

  • Communicate the passion and possibility of Jesus Christ with more people to encourage and support both new Christians and mature believers as they grow in their faith.

  • Expand our already exceptional music ministry to reach new people

Session Approval of Strategic Plan

The Elemental Churches Strategic Plan was approved by Session on September 13, 2021. After approval, the Session was able to apply for grant funding through the Presbytery as part of the Living Churches Initiative, to fund ministry initiatives identified in the new plan.  


Congregational Information Gathering Event

A Congregational Information Gathering Event was held on October 24, 2021. During this time the congregation was introduced to the Strategic Plan developed through the Elemental Churches team’s work and given the opportunity to ask questions about the Call Process.

Nominating  Committee Nominates PNC

These members of the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) were elected by the Nominating Committee:

Phil Cameron, Carol Carhartt, Rob Heidenreich, Barbara Lambing, Mike Millhaem, Cindy Standen, and Jack Weis.

Elect the PNC

The congregation approved and elected these nominees on June 19, 2022.  A commissioning service was held to commission these seven members to service. The PNC met for training by Executive Presbyter Lisa Allgood on June 22, 2022. The committee also then organized and planned for it's future meetings, and selected Rob Heidenreich as PNC chair, and Mike Millhaem as secretary.

Goodbye Pastor
EL Team
Transition Pastor
ELMission Study
EL Strategic Pla
Info Gathering
EL Strategic Approved
Nominate PNC
Elect PNC
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