December 8 was a significant day for me. It had been almost nine months since we knew we needed to add someone to our staff team. The process had been long but very worthwhile, enjoyable even. In that span of time, we had defined more clearly who we were as an elder team, how we needed to grow as a church, and what role we should hire into in order to get there. Finally, we as an elder team, along with our wives, sat in the private room at Nine Irish Brothers over some appetizers, waiting to meet an applicant we had spent considerable time with over the phone and Skype.
He was flying in from Haiti, along with his wife, to meet us face-to-face for the first time. I was full of anticipation. My phone buzzed with a text “just parked.” Will and I went to the front door. Gami and his wife Cathi (along with their baby Miraya) entered and we finally shook hands for the first time. A long-awaited day had finally come. It was worth the wait.
Let me rewind a bit and explain the process that brought us to this point. As elders, we used the spring and summer to evaluate, dream, pray, and plan for the future. We would be unwise to take any step forward without doing so. Our team was changing in significant ways, and we knew we needed to add a third staff member. But there was much to define before that. I enjoyed the clarity that came with our Ministry Model and Staffing Plan, which we also shared with ministry leaders. We needed that kind of clarity to move forward with a cohesive and collaborative ministry team. That clarity enabled us to write a pastoral ministry position we called Pastor of Worship and Connections. In August, we posted the position on several websites and also communicated through personal networks. We received a lot of resumes, videos, and sermon audios. Several great men applied for the position, but Gamaliel (Gami) Ortiz and two others clearly emerged as the best potential fits for our church. One exciting aspect of the process was the quality of these final three men. They are all gifted and godly pastors, and it was a great benefit and encouragement to interact with each of them.
I have not worked in many other industries, but I do think I can say with confidence that hiring into pastoral ministry is like no other process. So much goes into the decision. It is a good but weighty matter. That being said, Gami introduced himself by email on August 20, and our correspondence began (you can read his bio here). We interacted with Gami as an elder team on several occasions. Gami filled out a lengthy questionnaire and we kept the conversation going. With each interaction, I continued to be impressed with Gami’s maturity, character, and ministry ability. It seemed that God was bringing our paths together, and it was time to seek further confirmation by flying him and Cathi into Lafayette.
After that initial dinner meeting at Nine Irish Brothers, we enjoyed a lot of time with Gami and Cathi, both formal and informal. Gami also interacted with key ministry leaders from the areas that this position most affects. We were encouraged by the very positive feedback we received from those leaders.
I left that weekend excited about the potential of seeing Gami added to this team and to our church family. The elder team agreed. Gami, too, was excited at the potential when we shared this news with him over the phone after our weekend together.
That now brings us to some important news I am eager to share with you. The elder team is excited to have selected Gami Ortiz as the candidate for the Pastor of Worship and Connections role on our staff team. The Ortiz family will be in Lafayette January 12-21. Gami will preach on Sunday, January 13, and lead worship on Sunday, January 20. There will be various other opportunities for you to interact with Gami and his family throughout their visit as well. You can view the schedule here.
I invite you to continue to pray for this process. Read Gami’s bio, and pursue every opportunity to get to know Gami and his family during their visit. We will look forward to hearing your feedback. As excited as we are about the prospect of inviting Gami and family to join our church family and ministry team, we strongly desire input from you, our church family, as an invaluable next step in that process.
The Ortiz family are great people and faithful servants, and I am excited for you to meet them. I look forward to seeing what God has in store!