Meet the New Moderator
Meet Our New Moderator and Vice Moderator: Phyllis Kidwell and David Schaefers Seek to Serve Grace Presbytery in Their New Roles
Phyllis Kidwell and David Schaefers are about to embark on a journey they have never been on before. Serving as Moderator and Vice Moderator will place them in new service roles in Grace Presbytery. While these specific roles may be new, their experience as leaders is familiar to them.
Phyllis serves as Director of Children’s Ministry at First Presbyterian Church in Tyler, where her passions are education and outreach. She connects her ministry with other ministries of her church to show children they can make a difference. She has an extensive background in social work with Child Protective Services and also spent several years as a probation officer. Her educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis on special education. In 1986 Phyllis moved her church membership to the First Presbyterian Church in Athens, Texas. She was ordained as an elder in January of 1999. She was a member of Presbyterian Women and said she was honored to receive a lifetime membership during her work with that group. Before her current position, Phyllis worked in the First Presbyterian Church in Athens.
“The jobs there varied and the people were great,” she said. “I learned a lot about working in the church and in Grace Presbytery.” Phyllis has also served on Grace Presbytery committees and the Presbytery Council.
David is Sr. Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Richardson. He has a bachelor’s degree in history and Master of Divinity degree. He is working on his D. Min. Degree from Colombia Seminary and has completed his coursework. David said his first call was to Charleston, South Carolina, where he served four years as the Associate Pastor for Westminster Presbyterian Church. While in Charleston, he served on the Executive Council for Charleston Atlantic Presbytery and as the Moderator for the Church and Society Unit.
David has served as the Moderator for the New Church Development Committee, as a member of Presbytery Council, the Administrative Commission on Property, and has served on other ministry teams and administrative commissions. In 2016, he was part of the group from Grace Presbytery that traveled to Lebanon to meet with partners in the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon. David was an Alternate Commissioner to the 222nd General Assembly and said looks forward to being a Commissioner to the 223rd General Assembly in St. Louis later this year.
Both Phyllis and David said they are excited to serve in their new positions, and they have spent the last year learning and preparing to serve in 2018.
“The Moderator is elected by the Presbytery after being nominated through the nomination committee,” Phyllis said, “and I have prayed about this role since first being asked about being nominated.”
Phyllis explained that the Moderator term is one year. The leadership is shared between ordained Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders. The primary focus of the role is to moderate the four meetings throughout the year. Additionally, the moderator may lead in the commissions created to ordain new pastors and install pastors receiving a new call throughout the presbytery. The Moderator serves as a member of Council.
David said he also understands the importance of his role. “A presbytery Moderator (or Vice Moderator) is a person elected by commissioners and minister members of presbytery to oversee and guide the business that comes before the body. I have prayerfully considered serving as the Vice Moderator,” he said. “It is a volunteer position, but one that is taken seriously and with much prayer.”
David said that as Vice Moderator, he will lead orientation sessions for first-time commissioners immediately before each of the four stated presbytery meetings in 2018. He will help plan the worship service portions of the meetings and lead prayers at appropriate times. In the event that the Moderator is unable to preside over the meeting, he would be next in line to do so.
Both Phyllis and David have deep roots in the Presbyterian Church and will bring that connection to their new roles at Grace Presbytery.
“I am ‘sinfully proud’ to be Presbyterian,” Phyllis said. “My mother’s family has been Presbyterian for many generations and there have been Presbyterian pastors in each generation since they were in Scotland.”
David was raised in Tyler, where he was both baptized and confirmed in the First Presbyterian Church. He was an active leader in his church youth group. “I fondly remember many presbytery-sponsored activities at Gilmont, Mo-Ranch and Austin College,” he said.
As they prepared for their new roles, Phyllis and David took stock of their experiences in Grace Presbytery.
“I think I watched the meetings last year more closely than ever before,” Phyllis said. David said he will also draw from the experiences of attending 40 presbytery meetings in the last 10 years.
Phyllis also had the opportunity to attend a conference to learn about being a Moderator. “I met a lot of people serving in this role from around the country. The conference was short and action packed as we reviewed specifics and general information about moderating presbyteries.”
Phyllis also spent time with last year’s Moderator, Cheryl Taylor. “She and I became friends as she included me in leadership tasks and shared valuable information,” Phyllis said. “Cheryl moved the meetings with efficiency while letting members be heard. She understood the importance of her role and led with compassion and integrity. She made the meetings, and planning for them, enjoyable as we reviewed the work and made plans to enrich the presbytery in its work.”
With their first presbytery meeting just around the corner, Phyllis and David said they have thought about what they hope to accomplish this year.
“My personal goal for the year is to remind us all that ‘we’ are the presbytery,” Phyllis said. “We work together, or not, to move the church forward. We are not going to agree on everything that comes before the church, and we don’t need to agree on everything. We need to respect each other, listen well, and agree to continue working together.”
“I hope to continue to learn about Grace Presbytery and its congregations,” David said. “I am looking at this role as one of faithful service to a group of people that I love. I hope to serve as a good moderator in the future.”
Phyllis said, “I am grateful for the challenge this role will be for me and for all of us. The church is changing. We seek to serve and our needs in service change with each generation. God is faithful and true. Our foundation is solid. This gives me hope as we look at ways of ‘being church’ in our time.”