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Pulpit Committee Reports

Calvary Memorial Church


The first Sunday of each month the Pulpit Committee will provide a progress report on the search for a Senior Pastor. Below is the transcript of these reports listed by the most recent at the top.

Monday, November 19, 2018 | Final Update

We are delighted to announce that on Sunday, November 18, Dr. Gerald Hiestand was called by the members of Calvary Memorial Church to become Calvary's next Senior Pastor! We are thankful to God for His kindness and provision and for leading the Pulpit Committee, Board of Elders, and Calvary members to a place of clarity, overwhelming support, and unity in this decision. Pastor Gerald immediately and graciously accepted the position and we are thrilled. 

We plan to have a Service of Installation sometime in January 2019 to celebrate and give thanks together, so look for details in the next few weeks. Please be in prayer for Pastor Gerald, Jill, and their family as they transition into this new phase of ministry. Let’s love, support, encourage, care, and pray for Pastor Gerald as God’s appointed shepherd of our church under the Great Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ. Pray for his leadership of our ministry staff, his partnership with the Board of Elders, his personal holiness and growth in Christ and for his Spirit-dependent preparation and proclamation of the Gospel in the days and years ahead.

On behalf of the Board of Elders and the Pulpit Committee, we thank you for your prayers and thoughtful engagement with us throughout the process. May Jesus Christ be glorified in our church as we follow hard after Him and fulfill together the Great Commission and Great Commandment by making Him know in Oak Park, our surrounding communities, and around the world.

Thanks be to God!

Chris Jahns, Pulpit Committee Chair


Sunday, November 11, 2018 | Special Update: Video of Pastor Gerald Q & A Session

Calvary members and regular attenders were invited to remain after services on Sunday, November 11 to hear from Senior Pastor Candidate, Dr. Gerald Hiestand. Pastor Gerald was asked questions that were posed to him during the candidating process, as well as questions submitted beforehand by the congregation. This was a great opportunity to hear Pastor Gerald’s heart for Calvary, his ministry priorities, his view of preaching, and more. If you were unable to attend this session, don't worry, to follow is a video of that event:

Chris Jahns, Pulpit Committee Chair

Sunday, October 28, 2018 | Special Update

Good morning brothers and sisters. Most of you received an email yesterday from the Board of Elders, announcing our unanimous decision to officially present Gerald Hiestand as our candidate for the position of Senior Pastor at Calvary Memorial Church. If you didn’t receive a copy of the email, we have some printed copies at the Welcome desks in the Portico and the Lake Street lobby. (A link to the referenced email has been included at the bottom of this entry.)

We are so excited and thankful to God for His leading in the Pastoral Search process that began back in May. Since May, the Pulpit Committee, made up of four congregational members and four Elders, has been meeting regularly, praying together and evaluating our church, our needs and Pastor Gerald as a potential candidate. Of course, most of us have known Pastor Gerald because of his leadership and preaching ministry at Calvary as our Senior Associate Pastor for the past 9 years, but we did our best to look with fresh eyes at his fitness for this new role. As time went on, we became more and more convinced that Pastor Gerald was God’s man for our church in the role of Senior Pastor. Both the Pulpit Committee and the Elders met on separate evenings this past week to pray, discuss and vote, and each unanimously sensed God’s call on Pastor Gerald to be our next Senior Pastor. In just a few weeks, on November 18, the members of Calvary will meet to decide and affirm this call.

Please be in prayer. If you’d like to hear more about the process or want to have a chance to interact with the Elders, the Pulpit Committee and Pastor Gerald, we have a series of meetings scheduled in the next few weeks. For details of the dates, times and discussion topics, please consult the email you received, grab a printed copy of the email announcement or look on our website.

We thank you for your prayers throughout the process. We sensed the presence of the Spirit of God as we discerned together, so we knew that you were praying! Plan to join us at one of the upcoming meetings, and plan to attend the Business Meeting on Sunday, November 18 at 4:00. Please continue to pray for this final step of discernment, and for continued unity in our Body. Rejoice in the calling of God on Pastor Gerald’s life. Express your thanks and congratulations to him. Thank the members of the Pulpit Committee and the Elder Board for their willingness to serve and lead in this important process. And let’s give thanks to God for His provision!


If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to talk to one of the members of the Pulpit Committee or email the committee at

Chris Jahns, Pulpit Committee Chair

  Click Here to View the Letter from the Board of Elders ›


Sunday, October 7, 2018

Good morning. I’m Beth Spisiak and I’m a member of the pulpit committee. I’m here to give an update on the search for a new senior pastor. We’re being transparent about the details so you can be informed and prayerful, and so you can ask any questions you have. Proverbs 3:4,5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” We as a committee have taken seriously before God the responsibility to prayerfully seek His will and His “straight path” regarding the senior pastor position.

As discussed in previous updates, in order to honor Pastor Gerald’s ministry among us and his stated desire to be considered for the position of Senior Pastor plus the fact that he is qualified for the position, we have chosen to consider him as our first candidate. We all know and love Pastor Gerald but have not wanted to presume before God that he should be the next pastor. So we have tried to not lean on our own understanding, but prayerfully consider what is God’s best for Gerald and Jill and their kids and what is best for Calvary. So even though we know him and he knows us, we are going through the candidate process with him that we would pursue with any other candidate.

So, you may be wondering what have we been up to specifically, or what is taking so long?

  • We started with prayer and have continued to pray.
  • We looked at the job description developed by the elders.  
  • We discussed things that are unique about Oak Park and about our congregation and how they shape the type of pastor we need.
  • We officially accepted Gerald as a candidate for the Senior Pastor position, reviewed his resume and letters of recommendation from former colleagues and his detailed affirmation of Calvary’s statement of faith.
  • Last week, we had a lengthy interview with Gerald about his ministry priorities and where he would like to help Calvary grow.
  • We asked how Jill and the kids were feeling about him potentially being our senior pastor, and we were assured that one of his kids “doesn’t think he’s a bad preacher.”
  • We will be meeting more informally next week with Gerald and Jill and our own spouses.

Upon completion of all of this, our next step will be either to make a recommendation to the Elder Board to consider Gerald for the position of Senior Pastor, or to decide to move in a different direction. Our desire is to make a recommendation to the Elder Board soon with a great sense of confidence in the Lord’s leading.

If Gerald is recommended to the elders, then they will vote and need a ¾ affirmative vote to recommend him to the congregation. Prior to a congregational vote, there will be opportunities for you to interact with Gerald as a candidate and ask him questions or bring up concerns, just as you would with any outside candidate whom you did not know.

We will give you more details of the Pulpit Committee’s conclusions and any recommendation in the next few weeks. The process is well underway, we are greatly encouraged, and we ask again for your prayers regarding discernment in this process. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to talk to one of the members of the Pulpit Committee or email the committee at

Beth Spisiak, Pulpit Committee Representative

Sunday, September 2, 2018

We created and are currently reviewing a document that describes the context of Calvary and the Village of Oak Park. It also describes our strengths and uniqueness as a church, opportunities we have in our community, and the DNA of Calvary.  This will be helpful in our discussions with potential candidates in the future.

The Committee has a roadmap in beginning the discussions with Pastor Gerald in the weeks ahead.

The pulpit committee members include  Allen Bernthal, Dona Davidhizar, Clyde Lundgren, Brent Rieger, Beth Spisiak, Victor Van Santen and myself. We appreciate your continued prayers for God’s wisdom and discernment . Should you have any questions reach out to any one of us or email the committee at

Kimya Tuama, Pulpit Committee Representative

Sunday, August 5, 2018

The pulpit committee has a goal to give an update each month as we progress through the process of finding a new senior pastor.

As a reminder, the members of the Pulpit Committee are: Allen Bernthal, Dona Davidhizar, Clyde Lundgren, Chris Jahns, Brent Rieger, Beth Spisiak, Kimya Tuama, and Victor Van Santen.

Since our last update we have met on a couple of occasions, but it is admittedly more difficult to pull the entire team together given the summer season and scheduled travels.

We wanted to recap our process again and tell you where in the process we are. Our recent tasks have involved preparing a good picture of what we think Calvary Memorial Church is, including our strengths and weaknesses. We have been going through the data collected through the Antioch process to this point as well as recent discussions we have had as an elder board. In doing this we can be very transparent with our candidates about who Calvary is. This led to our current task which is discerning the questions we feel are important to ask as we move into the interview process.

Our next step to to begin interviewing candidates. As you all know, Pastor Gerald Hiestand is more than interested in candidating for this position and we intend to start the interview process with him soon. It is our goal to begin this process with Pastor Gerald over the upcoming month as we try to push through the end of the summer.

(You may view the Senior Pastor Job Description here.)

We want to be transparent with all of you. The initial steps in our process have been an attempt to have everything in order for any candidate, whether internal or external. We are in a unique situation in this search with Pastor Gerald, as Chris Jahns explained in last month's update, but we want to be sure we are not skimping on the process for both the good of our church and Pastor Gerald. Please be patient with us as we have been doing a lot of preparatory work. That said, it is our intentions to go through the entire process with Pastor Gerald before we move on to other candidates. We sense the Lord's leading in this way and feel that this is the most prudent route.

As we continue on, we ask for your continued prayers for a clear leading of the Holy Spirit as well as unity among our group. The Lord has been very gracious to us in our meetings to this point as our discussions have gone quite smoothly. Thank you for your support and your prayers to this point.

If you have questions, please talk with one of us on the Pulpit Committee and we’ll do our best to answer, or send an email to .

Brent Rieger, Pulpit Committee Elder Representative

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Pastoral Search Committee meetings have begun. The committee has had two meetings thus far and will be meeting at least twice-monthly moving forward. Monthly updates will be provided in the services on the first Sunday of each month. We want you to be informed so that you stay in the loop and can be praying for us. We also plan, in short order, to have a page on our website that includes these regular updates in case you’re not here on the first Sunday of the month.

The members of the Pulpit Committee are: Allen Bernthal, Dona Davidhizar, Brent Rieger, Kimya Tuama, Victor Van Santen, Beth Spisiak, Clyde Lundgren, and Chris Jahns.

Calvary's Church Constitution details the process for the formation of the Pulpit Committee for which you voted a month or so ago. The Committee is formed now. The Pulpit Committee is tasked with evaluating potential candidates based on the job description and guidelines provided by the Elders, and eventually will vote to recommend a candidate to the Elders. The Elders will review and vote to recommend the candidate to the congregation. The candidate will be presented to the congregation for a vote. The call of a Senior Pastor by the congregation requires a 3/4ths affirmative vote of voting members at a meeting.

Right now the Elders are finalizing the job description and discussing ministry priorities. Meanwhile, the Pulpit Committee is working well together. As many of you know, we have, for the first time in Calvary’s history, an internal candidate, Pastor Gerald Hiestand, who has expressed interest in the position. Pastor Gerald Hiestand, the Elders, and the Pulpit Committee will continue in further discussions and consideration with him in the months ahead as we lay the groundwork for the search. We want to honor Pastor Gerald’s God-given call and leading in his life, just as we would with outside candidates, so we would appreciate your patience and understanding. We all want what is God’s best, and we are confident that the Holy Spirit will be leading us as we prayerfully discern, discover, and move faithfully through the process.

We covet your prayers. If you have questions, please talk with one of us on the Pulpit Committee and we’ll do our best to answer, or send an email to .

Chris Jahns, Chair of the Pulpit Committee