Posted May 24, 2024 in Featured News

Jamie McLeod speaks at Middle Springs Presbyterian Church during a presbytery meeting where he was introduced as the mid council’s new co-leader for Vision and Transformation.

Jamie McLeod has climbed the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) ladder. In early May, he officially took a step up onto another rung.

Jamie is the Presbytery of Carlisle’s new co-leader for Vision and Transformation, making the transition from a pastor who has served congregations in North Carolina, Missouri, New York, Alabama and Kentucky. He has been feeling the call to take on mid council work and is ready to tackle a new adventure.

“Working on COMs (Committee on Ministry) in the last couple of presbyteries I’ve been in have been very affirming to my sense of call, working in that level,” he said. “I have several friends who are presbyters, and when I began thinking through this, they were very affirming. I just sensed God’s movement in my life, suggesting that it was time for a different direction.

“I’ve enjoyed my time working in the church level, and certainly God’s shown the door to that being a possibility in the future, but for now I’m really excited about doing work at the mid council level. I want to just continue to seek the movement of the Spirit in my own life, believing that she has carried me through to this place and will be with me in the future.”

Jamie joins Kristal Smith (presbytery leader for Governance and Congregational Leadership) as the co-leaders of the central Pennsylvania mid council. He replaced Lucy Bowerman, who has filled that same role as a bridge presbytery leader since Cheryl Galan retired 12 months ago as the presbytery’s interim executive presbyter.

The co-leader model, among other things, was something that drew Jamie to Carlisle.

“I started thinking about doing mid council work,” he said. “I had interviewed at a couple different places and Carlisle came onto my radar. I just really loved the energy the search committee put off. It was very positive, very forward-looking, very future-looking.

“Another reason I really, really felt called there was because I really liked the co-leader model they were using. They determined that the best way for leadership to work was to have one person who is in the stated clerk role and another person who does the big-think pieces. I really like to think about myself as being somebody who looks to the future, figure out what comes next for the church, and really felt drawn to that sort of co-leader model.”

Having recently been a chair of COMs at the presbytery level in both Louisville and Birmingham has given him a feel for what serving a presbytery will be like.

“I really just enjoyed and got a lot of meaning out of working in those leadership roles but also just working with those churches in general at different transition points,” he said. “I really appreciate the process of bringing a pastor to a close, figuring out what comes next and beginning the search for a new pastor. I enjoy working with churches in that position.

“I also enjoy working with pastors who maybe struggle at times to hear the call of God, and so I like being a sounding board and being a chair of a COM gave me a position to step into those roles when I had time and step back out when I didn’t. It was very affirming of my own sense of call in mid council.”

That relationship building is something Jamie is anxious to begin in his new call.

“I really want to get to each of the churches,” he said. “There are 39 congregations in my presbytery, so for the next year, I’d like to start a process of visiting each one of those, hearing their stories, getting to know the pastors where there’s pastoral leadership, getting to know the sessions, and forming connections between the presbytery and churches.

“At times, churches that are taller or further away from the center of the presbytery often feel disconnected, and so I want to build up those connections as quickly as I can, just be a sounding board to hear what folks have going on, the good news that they’re spreading and the hope that they’re feeling.

“I’m not looking to roll into the presbytery with five great ideas for how to increase your church attendance or grow the presbytery. I just want to hear people’s stories and help them figure out where God is living in them.”

Kristal Smith and Jamie McLeod will co-lead the Presbytery of Carlisle into the future.

Jamie knows there will be a learning curve and that it will take time to build up people’s trust levels, but he understands that’s all part of being the “new guy” and is looking forward to that process.

“I think anytime that you come into a system without any kind of capital built up, it’s going to take a little while just for people to get to know you, to know that they can trust you and know that you just want to love on them and be loved,” he said. “Initially I want to build those early relationships up and make sure that folks know that I’m here and present and can be trusted.”

While Jamie did serve in nearby New York, he has not lived in Pennsylvania, and the new scenery is something he’s excited to explore.

“I’m not wildly familiar with central Pennsylvania but I’m looking forward to the opportunity to get to know folks there and get to hear their stories,” he said. “While I’m not wildly familiar I think it’s a great opportunity and I’m looking forward to living there.”

When not visiting a congregation, Jamie and his wife will spend time with their three children (ages 16 to 5 ½) exploring the area. Jamie has a passion for music and plays the guitar and mandolin. He enjoys the outdoors and has scuba-dived around the world.

“I enjoy searching for what God has next for me,” he said.

Jamie also collects (and wears) bow ties, with roughly 50-60 in his collection. He is a website developer as well, a skill that could come in very handy for churches in the presbytery looking for a new online presence.

“I really enjoy designing websites,” he said. “If there are churches or presbyteries that need new looks or need to be freshened up, I’m happy to work with them.”

Whether it be through a new website or another avenue, helping to guide the Presbytery of Carlisle and its congregations into the future is what Jamie has been called to do. It’s a new challenge for him and one that’s he’s more than ready to tackle.

“I’m a pastor at heart,” he said. “I look forward to building pastoral relationships with folks. I hope that my experience, having done that in the past, will carry over somewhat into this new position. I look forward to making those sorts of connections with folks so that they’re comfortable with my leadership and the direction that we’re going to go together.”