Denominational Discernment Team Process
(September 2015-March 2016)

This is the archive of the Whitworth Community Presbyterian Church discernment team blog.

March 12th, 2016

The WCPC Discernment Team would like to express its great appreciation to all who participated in the discernment process.  We met at the conclusion of the small group meetings and are currently working on completing a report with our recommendations to present to Session at this month’s meeting.  We appreciate all of the continued support and prayers for our team and for your board of Elders.

Greetings!  Currently our small group listening sessions are underway and are going well (see the previous post below for more information).  We are meeting in room M108 – the small office (previously Steve’s office) right next to the Sanctuary.  There is still room to sign up for one of the following groups, although space is limited:
– Wednesday, February 17th – three groups at 6:30pm
– Sunday, February 28th – one group at each service time
– Wednesday, March 2nd – three groups at 6:30pm
We ask that you RSVP to the church office so we can keep the group sizes small enough to hear from each person. Should any time/date show to be especially popular, we can open up additional groups at that time. Contact Rachel Voight at the church ((509) 466-0305) to sign up for a date or time or contact us at The sign-up sheets will be available in the Welcome Center on Sunday mornings as well.

For these meetings, we are using the following three documents:
1.  WCPC FAQs from the DT
2.  Small group session discussion questions
3.  Small Group Demographic Questionnaire

We hope to see all of you there!
– The Discernment Team


January 6th, 2016

Education Series Completed:

Greetings, friends of WCPC, from your Discernment Team! While we have not posted a lot of recent correspondence, we have continued to work hard throughout the educational series. We just wrapped up our speaking series, and we all hope that if you were unable to attend any of the speaking engagements, you will find the time to watch the YouTube videos (posted below under “Speaking Series Video Links”). Part of our goal during this discernment process was to provide educational opportunities to the congregation as much as possible in various formats. We especially thought it helpful if the series allowed parishioners to hear what other churches have experienced. While each church’s journey is entirely unique, we wanted you to hear from the same pastors that spoke with the members of Session prior to Session’s vote last June.   In addition to the educational speakers, we are working on a FAQ document that resulted from the many small group discussions and questions that have been frequently asked of us in the past several months. We hope to have this completed in the near future to wrap up our educational portion of the discernment process.

To complete our educational component, we will also be offering a talk by Ron Pyle during the January 31st Sunday School hour at 10am. He will be helping contribute to our small group process by presenting guidelines on excellent communication techniques, which we hope all of you will be able to attend.

The Next Step:

Another component of discernment in our denomination is listening to the congregation. Communal discernment is described as a process that “…engages a group of people to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. It involves prayer, a humble surrendering of control, reflection on Scripture, and listening carefully to one another as together we seek to hear God’s voice.” In that spirit, our next stage in the discernment process will include members of the Discernment Team meeting with as many members and friends of WCPC as we are able to. We have set up some dates and times to meet with the Discernment Team members (outlined below).  We realize that there may be some of you who cannot attend any of the scheduled sessions; so, please let us know if you would like to explore other possibilities to gain your input. If you are somebody uncomfortable meeting in a small group setting, we will have an additional handout for you to complete and return to us; however, it is our hope that each and every one of you engage in a small group process so you may hear how the Holy Spirit is leading some of your fellow congregants. Our goals are to reach as many in the congregation as we are able – and to discern the Holy Spirit’s will for WCPC.

  1. What is the objective of these meetings? We are hoping to hear from as many congregants as possible as to their individual discernment for WCPC’s denominational affiliation.
  2. Who can attend these meetings? Anybody who has a vested interest in WCPC is encouraged to attend. We are hoping even if you have no strong opinion on the matter that you will still choose to attend – people that do not have a preference are still an important factor for our team to consider. It is important to note that should any official vote occur, only members will be allowed in the voting process. A new member class is scheduled for February should you wish to join WCPC at this time (contact Steve Watts for more information). In addition, Session members are tasked with the duty of maintaining membership rolls. Membership in a congregation is a formal process, and entails the following (from the Book of Order):
    G-1.0402 Active Member:  An active member is a person who has made a profession of faith in Christ, has been baptized, has been received into membership of the church, has voluntarily submitted to the government of this church, and participates in the church’s work and worship. In addition, active members participate in the governance of the church and may be elected to ordered ministry. Active members shall regularly, after prayerful consideration, recommit themselves to the disciplines and responsibilities of membership outlined in G-1.0304. The session shall have responsibility for preparing those who would become active members of the congregation.
    G-1.0304 Membership in the Church of Jesus Christ is a joy and a privilege. It is also a commitment to participate in Christ’s mission. A faithful member bears witness to God’s love and grace and promises to be involved responsibly in the ministry of Christ’s Church. Such involvement includes:
    • proclaiming the good news in word and deed,
    • taking part in the common life and worship of a congregation,
    • lifting one another up in prayer, mutual concern, and active support,
    • studying Scripture and the issues of Christian faith and life,
    • supporting the ministry of the church through the giving of money, time, and talents,
    • demonstrating a new quality of life within and through the church,
    • responding to God’s activity in the world through service to others,
    • living responsibly in the personal, family, vocational, political, cultural, and social relationships of life,
    • working in the world for peace, justice, freedom, and human fulfillment,
    • participating in the governing responsibilities of the church, and
    • reviewing and evaluating regularly the integrity of one’s membership, and considering ways in which one’s participation in the worship and service of the church may be increased and made more meaningful.
  1. When will these meetings occur? As mentioned above, the Discernment Team can be flexible in places, times and dates with meetings. However, we would prefer if you signed up for one of the following times or dates:
    – Sunday, February 14th – one group at each service time
    – Wednesday, February 17th – three groups at 6:30pm
    – Sunday, February 28th – one group at each service time
    – Wednesday, March 2nd – three groups at 6:30pm
    We ask that you RSVP to the church office so we can keep the group sizes small enough to hear from each person. Should any time/date show to be especially popular, we can open up additional groups at that time. Contact Rachel Voight at the church ((509) 466-0305) to sign up for a date or time or contact us at The sign-up sheets will be available in the Welcome Center on Sunday mornings as well.
  2. Who will conduct these meetings? Each group that meets will have two Discernment Team members facilitating the meeting – one from WCPC’s Session and one from our Presbytery.
  3. What will be done with the data collected from these meetings? After we meet with as many people as we are able, we will finish our discernment process by compiling a report including a recommendation for Session. Your individual input will be kept confidential by all members of the Discernment Team – any information that is shared with Session will be shared with anonymity.

We appreciate all of the support and prayers that have been extended to us – please continue to keep us in your prayers as we continue to pray for the congregation of WCPC. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or need any further information from us.

In Christ,
The WCPC Discernment Team


November 16th, 2015

Greetings from the Discernment Team!  Our speaking series is off to a great start, and we hope you have been able to attend and/or watch the recordings of the sessions below.

We know many of you had more questions than the time would allow, and we are currently in the process of gathering those questions and responses from the speakers for you.  Watch this page for further information.  Also, questions on the overall discernment process are being collected with the intent to create an expanded FAQs document on this discernment process.

Recently we sent out the following email, with hard copies available at the Welcome Center, which explains more the purpose of this educational series:
Congregational DT Letter 11-6-15

Again, if you are not receiving correspondence from the church, please call or stop in the office to verify your information in the database.

We hope to see you at the next speaking engagement with Mark Toone, Head Pastor at Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church in Gig Harbor, WA (transferred their affiliation to EPC) on Thursday, December 3rd at 6:30pm!

PLEASE NOTE there was a time/date change for the speaker in January.  It was originally listed for January 13th, but is now being held on January 10th at 6:30pm (see below, Oct. 31st post for more info).

The WCPC Discernment Team

Ron Pyle Outline


October 31, 2015

Greetings friends and members of WCPC! The discernment committee met again twice since our last post and wanted to share the following information:

  • Several people have said they have multiple questions and are wondering how they can get their questions answered. It is our hope that throughout the educational process, you will have a chance to receive answers to your questions. There will also be opportunities this fall to submit your questions in writing, or you may submit your questions via our email address at
  • Some people have indicated they are not receiving emails from the church. Others would prefer to receive written correspondence from the church only. Please feel free to drop by the church or call to verify that your information is correct, or to be put on a regular, “snail-mail” mailing list.
  • Currently we plan on having speaking engagements from pastors representing their church’s own discernment process. These times and dates are outlined below. It is our plan that we will also video tape these engagements and will post them on this blog should you be unable to attend any of them.
  • A letter was sent out to each congregant on the October 21st regarding the discernment process. It also included a copy of the letter sent out by Session in June as well as a FAQ document that was sent out in July. Please see below for copies of those documents.

Mailing Sent out October 21st, 2015:

Letter from Session to congregation 10-19-15
June 9th, 2015 Letter from Session to the Congregation
FAQ–Denominational Discernment

Speaking Series:

  1. Sunday, November 1st at 7:00-8:30. Speaker John Sowers, Head Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Spokane, currently affiliated with the Fellowship Community of Presbyterians.
  2. Wednesday, November 11th at 6:30-8:00. Speaker Eric Jacobsen, Head Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Tacoma – transferred their affiliation to ECO.
  3. Thursday, December 3rd at 6:30-8:00. Speaker Mark Toone, Head Pastor at Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church in Gig Harbor, WA – transferred their affiliation to EPC.
  4. The week of Jan 10th, time and date TBA: Speaker Eric Peterson, Head Pastor at Colbert Presbyterian Church, maintaining their affiliation with the PC(USA).

*Childcare will be available at each of these events, please contact Cara Cavicchia if you plan on using childcare on these dates.

Further Education:

In the meantime, please peruse the below informational links regarding our denomination as well as other denominations’ information:

Presbyterian Church in the USA (PC(USA) (Book of Confessions)

Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians (ECO)

The Fellowship Community

Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC)

October 6th, 2015

Greetings from the WCPC Discernment Team! We wanted to provide an update for you and let you know that since our last post, we have met two more times and the three elders on the committee have met an additional two times. Currently, we are planning on creating a two-stage process: starting with informational and educational distributions, then moving to a gathering of input from the congregation. Both of these will involve various formats and venues in an attempt to reach as many congregants as we are able. Anybody who is interested in this process – members and non-members alike – will be invited.  The educational portion will take place this fall and will include resources on different denominations, informational meetings (the first one currently tentatively scheduled November 1st, time and location TBA), videos, etc. At the beginning of this educational process will be a letter from the members of Session, expected to go out later this month. The process of gathering input from the congregation will take place starting in January. In the meantime, you are still welcome to communicate with us through our email account at God’s blessings on all of you! Thank you for your continued prayers as well.


The Whitworth Community Presbyterian Church Discernment Team


September 20, 2015

Greetings from the WCPC Discernment team! We have set up this blog in the hopes that you can keep tabs on what is going on throughout this entire discernment process, as well as a method to provide you with necessary resources. We realize that each of you have had a varied reaction to Session’s decision last June to start this process – so hopefully this blog will be the conduit to reach those of you who are interested. In addition, we hope each of you understands the necessity of complete confidentiality of this team. This blog has been set up to provide you with the necessary information while protecting the required confidentiality of the work of the team.

Our team comprises of three of your current elders on Session: Bruce Dentler, Julie Weller, and Kathleen Yarbro. Three representatives of the Commission on Ministry (COM) of the Presbytery of the Inland Northwest (PIN) also are on the team: Kevin Kirking, Terry McGonigal, and Pam Praeger. Kevin is a current ruling elder at First Presbyterian of Coeur d’Alene, and is the chairperson of the Commission on Ministry for PIN. Terry McGonigal the liaison to WCPC from COM and currently is the Director of the Office of Church Engagement at Whitworth University.   Pam Praeger is a current ruling elder at Bethany Presbyterian Church, and is also a member of COM, serving as liaison to Washtucna Community Church and Hamblen Park Presbyterian Church, and serves as chairperson to the Presbytery’s Reconciliation Team. Our meetings will occasionally be attended by Sheryl Kinder-Pyle, our Executive Presbyter of PIN, as well as Pastor Daniel White.

Our team has already met twice, and has done much of the very important introductory committee work. We have worked out a covenant, reviewed what the discernment process looks like, and discussed at length the four options for which Session members could vote and the resulting decision made last June by the WCPC Session. There have been some discussions about the current vision and mission of WCPC and how it relates to this denominational discernment. A common theme that has come up from all members of the team is that we care very deeply for the congregation of WCPC, and the care of the congregation through this process is a high priority for all of us.

Currently, we are in the first phase of the discernment process, which entails:

  • Building initial relationships;
  • Sharing Scripture and praying together, seeking each party’s initial hope for gathering;
  • Developing a covenant for working together in order to foster open and honest communication where people are free to share without fear;
  • Discussing and agreeing on processes for engagement;
  • Listing issues of controversy, and stating issues as questions to be discerned; and
  • Deciding who and how the above mentioned issues and questions will be studied and prayed about prior to the next meeting.

Eventually this process will lead to providing resources and education to the congregation to help each person learn and understand the issues currently facing WCPC in this time of denominational discernment. We will then focus on listening to the congregation through various methods of input (yet to be determined), in order to help our discerning the will of the Holy Spirit.

While we will have formal processes in the future for listening to the congregation, we know that many of you have a need to communicate with us directly and immediately. We currently have an email set up for any correspondence to the entire committee – send all communications to While we do not yet have a set process for handling responses to these emails, we do want those of you to feel that you are being heard even in this initial stage of the process. Please do not be concerned if you do not hear directly back from us. The email box is being set up to hear from you.

Once the process of education and listening has been concluded, the team will provide a recommendation to Session that will trigger the next step, if any. We hope to have that recommendation to Session completed by the first quarter of 2016.

Finally, know that each member on this team is committed to prayer, study, and reflection, knowing that the Holy Spirit has a plan for Whitworth Community Presbyterian Church that is “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:21-22) – we would love to know that the members of WCPC are also praying for this process and for those of us on the team.

Stay tuned for more!


The Whitworth Community Presbyterian Church Discernment Team