First Pres Berkeley





May 12, 2017

Dear Friends,

It is with excitement and gratitude that we announce that Rev. Dr. Steve Schibsted has been selected to serve as our Interim Senior Pastor. With more than 20 years of ministry experience, Steve is a highly relational, collaborative, and intuitive leader who loves God and loves people. His many gifts include an approachable style, strong preaching ability, demonstrated skill growing a joyful and engaged church, and experience shepherding a congregation through and beyond challenging seasons. What we see in Steve is someone with the capacity to lead us through difficult conversations and who can help our church and staff grow and thrive during this Interim period.

As you will see from the attached bio, Steve most recently served as Senior Pastor of San Clemente Presbyterian Church in San Clemente, CA. Prior to that, he spent 17 years as Senior Pastor of Bidwell Memorial Church in Chico, CA. With this background, Steve has a particular heart for serving in a university context. Steve and his wife Leslie know and love the Bay Area and are particularly excited to become part of the First Pres community. First and foremost, Steve sees his role as pastor, shepherd, team leader and coach. We are tremendously grateful for God’s faithful provision of such an experienced pastor as Steve who will provide loving, steady leadership to our church and prepare us to receive our permanent Senior Pastor when the time comes.

This announcement is the culmination of a search process that began in January when the Interim Senior Pastor Search Team (ISPST) was convened by Session. The ISPST members represent a wide range of experience at First Pres through decades of attendance, membership, and service in the many programs and ministries. In all, the ISPST received and thoroughly reviewed 42 applicants. The field was further narrowed through a series of steps in a rigorous screening and interview process. After much reflection, prayer, discussion, and listening to sermons, the ISPST came to the unanimous and enthusiastic conclusion that Steve was the candidate that God was calling to serve here at First Pres. The recommendation of the ISPST was subsequently approved by Session in a special meeting on May 9.

Steve will officially start work at First Pres on Monday, June 19. We will formally welcome him after both worship services on Sunday, June 25. Tom Elson, our beloved Bridge Pastor, has agreed to remain with First Pres for a period of time to ensure a smooth transition. We will have an opportunity to thank and celebrate Tom for the profound gift of his ministry when the transition period is complete. We will provide more details on timing as they become available.

We give thanks to God for the many ways He has extended his grace to us and for your steadfastness in prayer during this period of waiting. We are grateful to Him and look forward to this next season of leadership with hope and gladness.

Yours in Christ On Behalf of Session,

Renee Chagnon
Clerk of Session