August 19, 2020
With joy and hope we are pleased to announce the Rev. Dr. Charlene Han Powell as our candidate for Senior Pastor and Head of Staff at First Pres Berkeley! We’re filled with gratitude and love for Charlene and her sense of call to love and lead our congregation. We trust her honest faith, open-heartedness, wisdom, and the flow of God’s grace through her. We hope you enjoy this video where we share what has so captivated us about Charlene and introduce her to you.
We believe that Charlene brings the experience needed to lead First Pres Berkeley into our next season of life together. An East Bay native, Charlene comes to us from New York City where she has most recently served as the Executive Pastor at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in her ten years of tenure there. Prior to holding that role, she was the Associate Pastor for Education and Engagement. Charlene possesses an abundance of gifts, both pastoral and administrative, that have been honed in her current environment pastoring a church of over 3,000 people with an annual budget of $5M+ and a large staff.
One of Charlene’s mission-driven interests has focused on understanding generational differences in faith and culture, particularly focusing on Millennials. Her commitment to young people and her heart for people of all generations are gifts she will bring to our church, the University community, and more broadly to the Bay Area.
Charlene is excited about helping the church live out its mission to do good in the world, to love neighbor, and pursue God’s restoring justice. She brings pastoral sensitivity and a commitment to seeing the Gospel take hold in people’s lives. She cares for the poor in their neighborhoods, and in New York she worked with other organizations to revitalize a shelter for people without homes.
We have been struck by Charlene’s passion for supporting others in their spiritual formation. She led an initiative to transform an adult education program by creating lively discussion-based learning opportunities that also focused on creating community among members. We were particularly drawn to Charlene as a truly exceptional fit for us in the midst of this pandemic and its associated challenges. We observed her ability to connect, teach, lead, and pastor well in spite of the various constraints we have all experienced during this COVID-19 time.
Both in her preaching and in personal conversation, Charlene radiates a genuine love for people and a passion for learning people’s stories that is rooted in knowing and loving God. She is a gifted communicator. Colleagues and congregants testify to how relational Charlene is and how well she engages with people of all generations. We have observed that she is direct and authentic and a listener who also can make herself heard. With her faithful groundedness, her effusive warmth, her compelling preaching, and her deep authenticity, Charlene will be God’s blessing to us.
We invite you to visit the First Pres website for more information about Rev. Han Powell, including her professional and personal stories (with pictures of her and her family), her statement of faith, links to sermons, and a timeline of events and communication. Also, please watch these videos where 1) Charlene answers PNC questions and 2) friends and colleagues tell us about Charlene in their words.
By God’s grace and the leading of the Spirit, each of us has come to wholeheartedly support and love Charlene and we recommend her to you as our next Senior Pastor. And she, too, has experienced a sense of call to love and lead our congregation! Thank you First Pres for your faith and trust in us. We are incredibly excited for you to get to know the Rev. Dr. Charlene Han Powell and worship with her on Sunday, August 30, 2020! Please join us in praying for her, her family, and our church until then.
With love in Christ,
Lindsey Bischel Deputy
Charlene Chong, co-chair
Phillippe Daniel, co-chair