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Table of Contents
Chapter One: New LeadershipOld Issues
Transitions in pastoral leadership are intense experiences for congregations. How churches handle these periods of transition and succession are critical to their success.
A practical resource for the incoming pastor as well as for church leaders who have responsibility for ushering a congregation through a pastoral transition. Whether the outgoing pastor's departure is planned or unexpected, whether the new pastor is assigned or elected, author Ralph Watkins shares:
• Helpful insights• Practical strategies• Biblical principles
These tools enable clergy, their family, and their congregation to successfully negotiate a change in leadership. Features a variety of ministry profiles based on interviews with pastors and churches that have navigated a significant pastoral change of their own.
"This is a must read book. Please express my gratitude to Dr. Watkins for giving us a panoramic view of transitioning pastoral leadership. Often these principles have been undiscovered or masked. The results have caused casualties in the pulpit and the pew. Thank you again for the inestimable resource." Sheila Bailey, president and founder, Sheila Bailey Ministries
"Dr. Ralph Watkins has produced a timely, insightful, and practical resource to guide every pastor and church leader in handling the delicate matter of transition. The principles and the case studies wed together offer an exceptional blend of theology and practice. If I had had this book when I followed my church's founding pastor (the late E. K. Bailey), it would have been an answer to prayer and saved me some tough lessons. This is mandatory reading for every leader preparing, practicing, or anticipating transition." Rev. Bryan Carter, senior pastor, Concord Church, Dallas, TX
"Pastoral transitions are difficult for almost every congregation, whether they be positive or negative transitions in the minds of the church folk. Watkins helps church leaders navigate through the process, helping to make the transition as smooth as possible. He not only shares his own knowledge, but captures the insight of others through interviews and profiles of those who've been through it. While it is billed as applicable to the African American churches, I feel all churches facing a pastoral transition will benefit. I highly recommend it." as reviewed by Dr. John C. for Book Bargains & Previews
"When transition is not handled with intentional care and concern, many pastors and congregations find themselves in a whirlwindif they manage to live through it. Many healthy churches ingest the food of arrogance and recklessness from new leaders who do not take the time to assess carefully the culture, mores, and traditions of the new work assigned to their care. What was once a healthy church can quickly become an unhealthy church ailing and suffering from dis-ease. Dr. Ralph Watkins' book Leading Your African American Church through Pastoral Transition addresses these issues and more. This practical resource offers help for pastors climbing the stairs to new church assignments and new pulpits, giving them the tools necessary to avoid making the same mistakes over and over again. I hope that all pastors and church members will read this book to avoid the perils and pitfalls of pastoral transition." Rev. Brenda J. Gregg, Presiding Elder, Springfield-Xenia District, Third Episcopal District, African Methodist Episcopal Church
"Not one week passes in which I do not find myself counseling a new church pastor about pastoral transition. Many are facing frustrations as they assume the role of senior pastor in traditional congregations or in congregations where the outgoing pastor has served for many years. Now thanks to the diligent work of noted scholar and church leadership expert, Dr. Ralph C. Watkins, we have a resource that will address and answer many of the questions raised by pastors and churches going through pastoral transition. A thorough congregational study of Leading Your African American Church through Pastoral Transition will help congregations avoid the many headaches and pitfalls that come with change. Hallelujah!" Carolyn Ann Knight, President/Founder, Carolyn Ann Knight/Can Do! Ministries, Inc., Smyrna, Georgia
"Pastoral transition in African American churches can begin with a top-down approach, where a bishop appoints a new pastor, or an inside-out approach, where an autonomous congregation seeks to select a new pastor for itself. Each approach may result in conflict or in celebration, depending upon how well the congregation has been prepared for the transition. This book by Ralph Watkins will be an invaluable guide to any church facing pastoral transition no matter how that transition was initiated. As my own retirement from pastoral ministry approaches, this book will play a central role in guiding our church through its transition." Rev. Dr. Marvin A. McMickle, pastor, Antioch Baptist Church, Cleveland, Ohio; professor of homiletics, Ashland Theological Seminary; and prolific author
Rev. Dr. Ralph Watkins, PhD, DMin, MA, is the Pastor of Wheat Street Baptist Church and the Associate Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA. He was the assistant dean of the African American Church Studies Program and associate professor of society, religion, and Africana studies in the School of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary.
With over 20 years of pastoral, teaching, and administrative experience, Dr. Ralph Watkins is an active teaching scholar with over 250 publications and conference presentations to his credit, including five books.
In recent years, Watkins has received a Governor's Teaching Fellowship, Lilly Teaching Fellowship, Fulbright Hayes Fellowship for a study in Ghana, a Wabash Teaching Fellowship, and various awards and study grants to study in Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt, Mexico, and Ethiopia. He is ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) denomination and served as the executive pastor of First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles under Rev. Dr. John J. Hunter. Prior to FAME he served as Director of Ecclesia / Executive Pastor at The City of Refuge under Bishop Noel Jones in Gardena California.
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