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Website connects pastors with Black churches, makes pastoral process more efficient

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It has been 15 years since Rev. John W. Woodall Jr. began his pastoral process, the journey every pastor must take to find the right church they will preach for. With his resume ready, he asked his mentor if there were any websites that might aid him in this extensive process.

“Well, you’re the computer guy,” Woodall recalls his mentor saying. “Why don’t you make it?”

So, Woodall did. Now, the website, p4bc.com, connects pastoral candidates with Black churches that are seeking a pastor for their church community.

Rev. John W. Woodall Jr. created P4BC, Pastors for Black Churches, to make finding a church a more efficient process for pastoral candidates. The process of finding the right church can take years, according to Woodall, and by using his platform, candidates and churches can filter results by state and denominations to aid them in their search. (Photo provided by John Woodall Jr.)

The acronym “P4BC” stands for Pastors for Black Churches, and by creating a profile on the website, both pastoral candidates and church search committees can filter results by state and denomination to find the best suited church or pastor.

In the past, listings for pastors were commonly found through word of mouth, taking two to three years or longer for pastors to find churches to preach for, Woodall said. He created this website to make the process smoother and more efficient for both parties.

Pastor Timothy Ramsey of Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church started his process in the winter of 2017, and while he found his church that summer, Ramsey helped Woodall test the website. He said P4BC is an efficient tool to use to save time during the search.

“The information was very helpful because unlike other similar tools, it narrows it down to a specific job search,” he said. “It would have certainly saved me a lot of time.”

While this is a service to help Black churches with their search for a pastor, Woodall plans to have a racially diverse group of pastoral candidates.

Rev. Tommy Birnell knows his pastoral process will be a challenging one because he wants to preach for the Black church community as a white pastor.

“I know there’s going to be Black churches that are not going to accept me because of the color of my skin,” he said. “We can’t change people. Only God can change people. I want to be where God wants me.”

After being mentored by Woodall, Birnell has begun his search for a church. He has used websites like Pastors for Black Churches, but to him, none of them compare.

“I believe that this website goes into a little more depth,” Birnell said. “When a church is looking, they get to see a lot more about you than they would with a resume.”

For their profiles to be seen, each church and pastoral candidate must upload an introduction video. Since the website’s launch in April, there are around 20 pastoral candidates nationwide with profiles viewable on the website, but no churches.

Woodall said he wanted to first focus on finding the pastoral candidates and would begin pushing for more churches to join later. He also stressed the importance the church search committee has on “uncovering” their pastor.

“The purpose of the search committee is not to find a pastor,” he said. “It’s to reveal the pastor that God has already chosen.”

To aid the churches, Woodall created a free online course that teaches search committees the essential steps they must take to find their pastor on the platform. Some of the steps include a phone interview, multiple in-person interviews and praying for the pastor.

If the process is not done correctly, it could result in a high pastor turnover. Woodall said one church in Central Indiana has gone through six pastors in the past 20 years, and its pastor search was delayed by the pandemic.

It is free to set up a listing and/or profile, but Woodall said to make the search confidential and the platform trustworthy, there is a monthly fee for all pastoral candidates and churches. However, all fees will be waived for candidates and search committees for a limited time.

Contact religion reporter Abriana Herron at 317-924-5243. Follow her on Twitter @Abri_onyai. Herron is a Report for America corps member and writes about the role of Black churches in the community.

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