We share with you the news that Will Wellman and his wife Taylor are moving to Tennessee. It’s a move they are making thoughtfully and prayerfully.
However, Will’s influence and friendships at PCPC will continue for years and years to come. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to have been one of Will’s colleagues, and I am grateful for his contributions to faith formation and Christian character in this Christian fellowship.
Will’s ministry was focused on providing and staffing faith formation opportunities for adults. His charge as he started his work was to guide PCPC’s adult faith formation ministry into a regular, substantive set of offerings clearly rooted in the Reformed Tradition, its theology and biblical interpretation. Will did an outstanding job accomplishing that mission. On the journey he served as a teacher himself in each season, and demonstrated his gifts as a prepared, knowledgeable, engaging, and relevant teacher. He developed an adult faith formation committee that met regularly and brought a sense of responsibility for the tasks and thoughtful and persistent oversight to the offerings. Will successfully recruited a bench of teachers who shared a commitment to the Reformed tradition, were prepared and supported, and had a passion for and expertise in their topics. That excellence has become the community’s expectation for the program.
Will’s curriculum and teaching led us to such great Christian thinkers and writers as Augustine, Kierkegaard, Neibhur, Barth and Brueggemann. His core curriculum included regular classes on the scriptures and themes of scripture, and revealed his own command of and commitment to scripture. Will has particular competencies that punctuated and flavored his curriculum, such as poetry, ecology (eco-theology), agricultural and food ethics, and literature. His worship presence was a creative blessing in courtyard firepit services and mid-day Lenten and Advent prayer opportunities. But Will’s vision and implementation also honored and included a regular place for mystery, mysticism, contemplation, and classic Christian practices for faith nurture such as fasting, contemplative prayer, walking, dialogue and solitude. Amongst us Will also taught and led by example. He modeled speaking the truth in love. He articulated his deep convictions, even in disagreement with others, forcefully, without embracing the temptation of polemic or diatribe. It’s been a very helpful visible demonstration of the power of love in the community.
Will’s tenure here traveled over significant and unanticipated national and world issues and events, including wars, reckoning with racism, threats to the environment, human sexuality, and the pandemic. In each chapter he led the team in bringing forward very helpful classes and resources that let us see, examine, discuss, and debate the issues in the context of prayer, scripture, Christian history, and discipleship. The pandemic required a shift from in-person to livestream and digitally recorded classes and presentations. Will didn’t seem to miss a beat. Without complaining, he took on the required new medium, and then, when it was called for, did the extra work of going hybrid, and leading us in creating podcasts, recorded classes, and Zoom gatherings.
Taking the scriptures seriously, Will acted on the call to care for refugees. PCPC’s refugee ministry was really begun in and through Will’s efforts. He raised funds, publicized opportunities, established connections, stewarded collections, and nurtured relationships so that aid for refugees might be gathered and distributed. His ecumenical spirit profoundly blessed the care for refugees in Hillsborough County. His leadership was such that the area Lutheran leadership came unexpectedly to Will’s Presbyterian ordination reception and presented him with their award for service.
As a part of Will’s presence with us we walked with him in the personal journeys of his wedding and marriage, ordination, health, griefs, joys, family, and friends. And each of those also were chapters in which our faith was deeply and positively nurtured by his example. We became better as a faithful Christian community because of Will’s thoughtful presence, leadership, and example. And a considerable portion of that example was given not only through his articulate speech but through his artful listening. His authentic friendship has been a means of God’s grace amongst us, and often with Will in conversations, over coffee and sacrament, in classes, and chapel, it has been clear that the risen Christ was also present with us.
St. Augustine once famously said “Faith seeks understanding.” With Will we have also seen a corollary, “Sometimes, the life of the mind seeks faith.” Bill Wallof said to me once, “I hope Will will take my place as the Dean of the Chapel.” In his tenure amongst us at PCPC, I believe Will wore that mantle well.
So now we say Godspeed to Will and Taylor in their new chapter. Blessed are the ties that bind. Thank you, Will, for being our friend, and thank you for being such an excellent teacher and pastor.
In Christian Love,