PNC Update

March 18, 2018

Our PNC formed over a year ago after spending a year on our Mission Study. We took quite of bit of time with this document because of the situation that we have been through and the healing process we experienced as a congregation. This document was important because we wanted to capture not only our turmoil but the strength and hope that we have gained from the experience. There was a delicate balance between sharing the truth and conveying the wonderful uplifting of the gifts that we have been given.

As a PNC we all understood that the Pastor that “got” our Mission Study would most likely be the person that God was leading us to. We pulled out twenty five dossiers at a time, and generally chose five or six individuals that interested us. The Pastors were very diverse, both ethnically and in gender. But spiritually we believed that they most closely represented our core belief of Scripture alone, Grace alone, Faith alone, Christ alone.

Time and time again our initial emails sent to these folks were readily turned away. Either the pastor never answered, told us that we were not a good fit, or stated that they were involved with other potential calls. We pulled well over one hundred PIF’s and had three folks that actually were willing to speak to us. After receiving clearance to speak to them (except for one) two were completely wrong for us. The third was like coming home. Gary Cecil has met all of the criteria that we have set as a committee. His theology is biblically conservative without being judgmental. He believes fully in the Presbyterian doctrine. He believes that Jesus The Christ is our one true Lord and savior, and that the Bible is the very word of God.

Gary was drawn to us because of the honesty and pain expressed in our Mission Study. He is drawn to us because of our hope and faith and our unwavering belief in the destiny of our Church. Gary agrees in our mission to put our resources into helping the City of Salem. We respect and feel empowered by Gary’s journey of Faith and his life experiences. We enjoy his warmth and sense of humor, and his self-depreciation. Unanimously as a committee we have selected Gary Cecil to be our Pastorial candidate. We believe that although we did not have a large pool of candidates to interview God has brought both us and Gary in the direction that he has chosen.

We have had Gary and his wife Shelia in Salem for three separate visits including preaching at a neutral pulpit. We have had exhaustive weekend long conversations about life, faith and the future for not only him and Sheila but our Church. We have watched him interact with his wife, the committee and folks that we have met in the course of tours of the City and County. While preaching he was met with a medical situation in the congregation and we saw him interact with the family. Gary is a warm, caring man whom we believe is exactly what our congregation needs.

Thank you for your considerations, as a committee we urge you to fully consider Gary as our selected choice.

First Presbyterian Church of Salem PNC

Our FPCS Pastor Nominating Committee Members:

  • Reid Willis, Chair
  • Erin Owens, Secretary
  • Chris Davenport
  • Earl Gage
  • Wendy Johnson
  • Kim Owens

We are pleased to use this web page to post news and items of interest in our search for our next Pastor.   You are welcome to send us questions about the process at  Our committee will answer you as soon as is possible.  Thank you!

Mission Study Team Report

Welcome to the First Presbyterian Church of Salem, a conservative, evangelical, orthodox congregation in the southern region of New Jersey. This document includes basic demographical and economic data compiled by Rutgers University, the results of the congregational survey, and our vision.

We are a small congregation of approximately one hundred members serving a diverse and struggling urban center in the most rural county in the State of New Jersey. We have been blessed with an endowment which provides our congregation with the means to provide not only for our congregation, but also provides our congregation with the means to reach out to the greater community as well. We strongly believe and follow the parable of the Faithful Servant, Luke 12:24 “To whom much was given, of him much will be required. “ Our vision has never been only about us, nor is it about building a big Church; it is about enlarging the ministry of the kingdom in the City of Salem, which is in desperate need.

You may read the full report here…

Frequently Asked Questions


What does PNC stand for?
Pastor Nominating Committee.  The First Presbyterian Church of Salem (FPCS) PNC was elected to search for a Pastor to be presented to the Congregation at a subsequent date.
What is a CIF and a PIF?
CIF is an abbreviation for the Church Information Form.  This is the document that describes MPC to potential candidates for our Senior Pastor vacancy, and also describes the qualities and characteristics we are looking for in a pastor.

A PIF is a Personal Information Form and contains the information that a traditional resume would have.  It is the document that we will receive from candidates interested in the position or who have been matched to us through the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Church Leadership Connection.

How long will this take?
The Presbyterian Church (USA) determines the process we must follow in selection our next pastor.  Throughout the process, we must follow the guidelines provided by the Book of Order and consult with our local presbytery.  In fact, the PNC is assigned a representative from the Committee on Ministry (COM) to aid us through this process.  All of this is designed to allow a fair and open search process and allow sufficient time for prayer and discernment.  As a result, there is no set timetable.
Will we be able to find out who the PNC is considering?
Due to the confidential nature of a pastoral search, the PNC will only present one candidate to the Congregation and cannot disclose other candidates that may be considered.  If the candidate presented to the Congregation is not acceptable, the PNC will continue the search process.
What can I do to help?
The most important thing you can do to help is to pray for the members of the PNC, as they discern God’s will for FPCS and consider potential candidates.

To contact the First Presbyterian Church of Salem PNC, email the entire committee at