Women on the Water

Dear Church Family,  

It’s Andy Cornett writing you today … and it’s with sadness and some joy that we share some important news with you. In the next two months we are making some major changes to the staff in our Student Ministry at Signal Pres. [You can also view this news on our website.] There are three parts to this news: 

First, the sad: Jackson Clemmer let all our students and leaders know last night (during Wednesday night) that he is stepping down from his role as Co-Director for the Student Ministry at Signal Pres in mid-June. One of the things I appreciate about Jackson is his desire to know himself better and make changes as he needs to. He shared the basics with me this winter and we shared it with the student team in late February. Though I hate to lose working with him, I’m confident that he is setting out on the adventure of what the Lord has for him to do next.  Here’s what he wants to share with you: 

As Andy alluded to, this decision took a long time to make – precisely because it was a decision to leave working at a church I love, alongside people I admire greatly, serving students who’ve brought so much joy into my life in my time at Signal Pres. As Martha and I have thought, talked, and prayed about this decision, we’ve come to a place of sure peace that the right next thing is to pursue work outside of “professional” ministry.  

I’m grateful for so much about these last three years: for committed and self-sacrificial D-Group leaders who love your students so well, for coworkers who are wise and kind and have become true friends, for pastors and elders who have shepherded and care for me, even through this transition, and for the role I’ve been allowed to play in students growing in the knowledge of the deep, deep love of Jesus for them.  

Second, we are changing the structure of our student ministry staff. Over the last four months our staff has assessed our ministry and then worked with our Youth Committee and our Executive Director. We’ve needed to make some changes and grow our ability to care for students and their families in this community. We are adding two full-time positions: a High School Director and a Middle School Director. This will really let us concentrate on those unique phases and the different opportunities they present in connecting with students and schools, shepherding students in discipleship to Jesus, and partnering with parents. We are actively hiring for them now, and we still plan to have two part-time Residents (one each, MS and HS) through the Chattanooga Fellows (just as Paul Byrd has done so well for us this year). 

Third, we are putting student ministries in the hands of one key staff role who will lead all the rest: a Director of Student Discipleship. It’s with great joy that we tell you that will be Camille Ward. Camille first joined our staff almost 10 years ago, and it will not surprise you that as we considered last month who could do that job, she was the first one to come to our mind. We are thrilled she has accepted the role and will lead the student ministry going forward. We’ll have much more to say about Camille and that role in the weeks ahead, but here’s her word to you now: 

I am genuinely sad to see Jackson stepping down from his role as Co-Director of Student Ministry. He has been a real and true gift to Signal Pres and specifically the student ministry. I have admired his commitment and priority to building and growing relationships with students and leaders. I have appreciated his thoughtful and prayerful care for those under his leadership. I have benefited from his ability to step into situations with a steady demeanor and non-anxious presence. I have learned to be a more critical thinker and ask better questions because of his sharp mind and intelligence. I have enjoyed (and needed!) his humor and lighthearted playfulness. No doubt he will be missed, and his absence felt, but I am deeply grateful for his time here and know his work and leadership are things that will far exceed his time on staff. 

Finally, allow me (Andy) to share a personal note about Jackson as he prepares to leave us: 

We spent a ton of time in 2019-20 looking for the right candidate for another Co-Director at Signal Pres. I connected with Jackson right about the time the pandemic hit, and I still remember his first question to me: “let’s talk about the gospel: what does Signal Pres believe?” I am constantly grateful for his willingness to answer a call, make a cross-country visit with his wife Martha when travel was just opening up, and start over in ministry during our year at home and zoom groups. If you have gotten to know him, you’re aware he is passionate about seeing students walk in the good news of Jesus who puts sin to death and makes us live freely and joyfully in him. I will greatly miss Jackson’s focus on hearts, his hard questions and solid teaching, his good instincts in working with students, his playful personality, and his serious love for God’s people. We’ll take some time to celebrate him and his work in June, so stay tuned.  

In the meantime, please pray with us and for us. Pray specifically for: 

  • Wisdom and provision for our team in the hiring process for new staff and in walking through these changes with students and parents
  • Joy and blessing for Jackson (and Martha) as they forge ahead here in Chattanooga. 
  • Peace and courage for Camille as she ends one position here and takes up another that involves leading changes in our ministry. 
  • Renewal by God’s spirit among all our students and parents – that we would see more of Jesus’ presence, power, and love in our ordinary lives. We have been praying for this and will continue to in the year ahead!

I am so grateful for each of our staff and for all that the future holds. With Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians I can say this: these staff have “cared for you. Because [they] loved you so much, [they] were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but their lives as well.” (1 Thess 2:8). 

Grace and peace! 

Andy Cornett (Associate Pastor for Family Ministry) and Johnny Long (Executive Director). 




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