Ninety-Day Companions for New Mid Council Leaders
and the Association of Stated Clerks
A service provided by the Association of Mid Council Leaders and
the Association of Stated Clerks
What is the Ninety-Day Companion Program?
The ninety-day companion is a seasoned presbytery leader who is asked to call the new leader on a weekly basis the first month, and at least monthly the next two months. The purpose is simply to walk with the new leader as they prepare to start the new call and during the first few months on the field. Companions can direct new leaders to resources they may need as well as help sort out the things with which they will need to deal in beginning their new ministry.
The PLF program coordinator assigns the ninety-day companions on behalf of the Association of Mid Council Leaders. Ninety-day companions are assigned to new Presbytery program leaders and new associate presbyters. Wilson Gunn is the program coordinator until Dec. 31, 2022 after which Sheldon Sorge will assume the role. The email for the program remains the same: firstname.lastname@example.org
What is it like to begin service as a new Mid Council Leader?
“I feel like I’m drinking from a fire hose” is a common reaction. Sometimes new leaders can feel overwhelmed and inundated. Some are looking for resources, and don’t know where to start. Some find it all exhilarating and want a good colleague to share the joy.
The purpose of the ninety-day companion program is to provide the new leader with a close colleague relationship to share the start-up season. The ninety-day period begins as soon as is helpful to the new leader – generally when the new position begins or shortly before the start date. The companion shares the privilege of walking with the new leader through the beginning months of service.
Who is Eligible for the 90-Day Companion Program?
The Association of Mid Council Leaders (AMCL) and the Association of Stated Clerks (ASC) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will provide a 90-Day Companion to new Mid Council Leaders who would like to benefit from this service. This includes those with position titles such as Stated Clerk, Executive/General Presbyter, Associate Executive/General Presbyter and those in hybrid roles. We recognize that there are dozens of titles for these positions, and will always work on an individual basis for eligibility. Those in temporary/transitional/interim positions are also eligible, in particular if it is a longer-term position.
How are 90-Day Companions Assigned?
The Associate for Mid Council Relations in the Office of the General Assembly (OGA) keeps track of the selection of new Mid Council Leaders and refers them to the joint 90-Day Companion Team of AMCL and ASC. The team matches the new leader with an experienced Mid Council Leader.
How are the More Experienced Companions Selected?
The more-experienced companions are assigned from a pool of volunteers from ASC and/or AMCL. Regular opportunities to volunteer for service as a companion are provided to the organizations.
How Do We Get Started?
When the new leader is matched with a more-experienced leader, they will receive an email to connect them and start the journey. It’s traditional that the more experienced leader take the initiative to contact the new presbytery leader, but the new leader also often jumps in first. The 90-Day Team is always glad to get an email confirming the companion journey has begun successfully. The 90-Day Companion Team will touch base after 30 days to see how it’s going.
What Are Best Practices for a Terrific Journey as 90-Day Companions?
Many companions covenant for a weekly conversation for about 30 minutes for the first month at least and then negotiate the frequency for the remaining two months. Not surprisingly, companions who meet over zoom or other video platform report a deeper sense of connection than those who might by audio only. In addition, the new leader may make contact with the companion when needs for help/support arise and need quick attention. It’s good to agree on preferred communications methods: video, phone, texts, emails.
What are Fruitful Discussion Topics?
Priorities in the first months and learning the environment and systems
Best practices to thrive in the new position
Personal life adjustments to a new position and often a new place
Managing time and establishing priorities
Dealing with pace of transition and change
Building relationships with staff and the leadership/committees of the mid council
Building partnerships with other mid council leader colleagues
Effective ways to work with congregations
Questions specific to the Leader’s role: Working with COM, working effectively as a Stated Clerk,
staffing other Mid Council Teams and Committees
How Do We Conclude?
At the end of the 90 Days, the more experienced leader should initiate a closure conversation to bring the formal Companion Experience to a conclusion. Both leaders will be asked to respond to feedback surveys on the experience.
How Else Can New Leaders Connect?
AMCLMatters Google Group
New Mid Council Leaders are also welcome to join the AMCLMatters Google group, which is a very active peer resource group. Generous colleagues respond with resourcing, brainstorming, rejoicing and commiseration. Enroll by contacting Erin Cox-Holmes, email@example.com.
New Presbytery Leader Orientation
The Office of the General Assembly (OGA), in partnership with ASC and AMCL, holds New Presbytery Leader Orientations. This event replaces the previous New Stated Clerk Training (previously offered twice each year) and the Presbytery Leader Formation Orientation (previously offered once each year). All newly elected presbytery staff leaders—stated clerks, general/executive presbyters, and associates—are invited to share one combined orientation, offered twice a year.