Dear Members and Regular Attendees of Eastside Church,
Grace and peace to you in the name of our risen savior Jesus!
We are writing to share some important news concerning Eastside’s leadership. As announced in this
morning’s worship service, the Bishop and Cabinet of the North Georgia Conference of The United
Methodist Church recently shared that Eastside will receive a new Pastor in July and our current
Pastor, Tavares Stephens, will be appointed to a different congregation within the conference.
As you may know, The United Methodist Church uses an itinerant system for appointing pastors.
Each conference’s Bishop consults with other denominational leaders at the district level to appoint
pastors to local churches. Our Bishop Robin Dease and District Superintendent Byron Thomas are
responsible for determining what moves will best support the changing needs of both pastors and the
congregations they serve, including Eastside. Pastor Tavares will continue to serve at Eastside
through the end of June, and our new Pastor will join in July.
As our congregation prepares for these upcoming changes, members of Eastside’s Staff Parish
Relations Committee (SPR) want to directly share several important details. First, we want to express
gratitude for Pastor Tavares’ ministry at Eastside over the past year. His many gifts in preaching and
teaching, strategic visioning, and spiritual formation have been a blessing for our community and will
be dearly missed. Prior to his move to his next appointment within the conference, we will have some
opportunities to more formally thank Pastor T for his work and ministry here at Eastside. Please be on
the lookout for additional information in the weeks ahead.
Second, we want to share some more detailed information about who our new pastor will be. In July,
Eastside will welcome Rev. Elaine Puckett. Elaine is a retired United Methodist Elder in Full
Connection within the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church, and she will serve
at Eastside full-time. However, her ministry here will a bit unique: Elaine is being appointed as an
interim minister and will only be with us for a single year.
Each of us will have many opportunities to
get to know Pastor Elaine better in the weeks and months ahead, but she has written a brief message
to be shared with our congregation as a way of introducing herself and the unique ministry she brings:
“I am what is called an endorsed Transitional Interim Ministry Specialist. This means I have particular
training in helping churches chart a path forward in times of transition created by special
circumstances or unanticipated change. My appointments are always for a predetermined period of
time, in this case, one year. Our goal will be to create space for Eastside to discern God’s calling for
this congregation and the most faithful ways of living into that calling. At the close of our time
together, a new permanent pastor will be appointed. I have worked in this capacity since 2011 and
have served multiple interim appointments in varied contexts throughout North Georgia. I appreciate
our District Superintendent’s willingness to deploy me in the capacity and look forward to our year
Third and finally, members of SPR want the congregation to know that we are eager to begin this
process of discernment Elaine described in her message, and believe the year ahead can be a fruitful
and generative season in the life of our church. We invite each and every person who calls Eastside
home to lean into our community and trust that God has already been and will continue to do amazing
things in our midst. Please know that this discernment process is intended to be dynamic and
reflective of Eastside’s identity and core values. You will be invited to participate in charting what the
year ahead will look like, and help the church identify and fully live into our core values.
Please see below for responses to a few questions you may have regarding this news:
Why is Eastside changing Pastors, and how does the appointment process work in the United
From its beginning, The United Methodist Church has followed what is known as an itinerant system
for appointing pastors. In this system, each conference’s Bishop consults with other denominational
leaders at the district level to appoint pastors to local churches for one-year terms. Our Bishop and
District Superintendent are responsible for determining what moves will best support the changing
needs of both pastors and the congregations they serve. The changes now happening at Eastside
are part of this normal process our annual conference and entire denomination walk through each
How will this change impact the staff of Eastside?
The wonderful and dedicated staff of Eastside will continue to serve our church throughout this
transition and under the new leadership. Members of SPR remain deeply grateful for the impactful
work that Karina, Troi, Rachel, and Angela do week after week, and are committed to doing
everything possible so that each of them can flourish both personally and in their ministries.
When will the new Pastor start?
In The United Methodist Church, pastoral transitions occur at the end of June with new ministers
starting in early July.
What can we do to help during this transition?
During this season of change, please pray for Pastor Tavares and his family. Pray also for the staff,
Administrative Council and congregation of Eastside to come together to support one another and
strengthen our community. Pray for our new Pastor Elaine and for the work she will lead us through in
the year ahead.
Who can we contact if we have questions, concerns, or feedback we want to share?
We know that you may have questions or want to share concerns or feedback, and we are eager to
connect. You can reach out to Dave Logeman, the chair of Eastside’s Staff Parish Relations
Committee, at [email protected] or 803.727.4735. You can also contact Troy Kiber, chair of
Eastside’s Administrative Council, at [email protected] or 404.520.8263. Please also feel free to
reach out to any of the SPR members listed below.
Together in Christ,
Katie Farmer, Lay Delegate
Troy Kiber, Administrative Council Chair
Dave Logeman, SPR Chair
Nick Tippens, Lay Leader