Senior Pastor Search

Welcome to our Senior Pastor Search HUB!

To our church family, THANK YOU for showing up as the beautiful body of NewHope! For supporting the church and staff over the past months. We have all greatly felt your prayers, love, and encouragement and know that God’s best is truly yet to come!

NewHope is filled with thanks for our history, as well as excitement for our next chapter to begin!

Here, you will find our newsletters, congregation surveys and helpful resources to stay engaged throughout the search journey.

Please be assured that our Search Team is 100% dedicated to finding the ideal Senior Pastor who can reach, teach, and release us to impact the world for Christ! We ask for your continued prayers in this transition season and trust God to keep us focused on our mission and ministry work as we serve Him faithfully.

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ section is constantly expanding with information and sources of clarity for our congregation. It is a place where we seek to anticipate needs, answer questions and provide resources on various topics related to the recent senior pastor search.

Please check back weekly as we'll be updating the list regularly! If you have a non-urgent query, please email today.

NewHope was planted in 2002 by Pastor Benji Kelley, our Founding Senior Pastor, under the Wesleyan Denomination. With that connection, the church received major funding assistance from the church planting division of the North Carolina East District of the Wesleyan Church, including supporting the loan for our current church facility (which opened in March 2009) and supporting the funding for the expansion project in 2012 which increased our ministry spaces plus seating capacity in our worship center. The District Superintendent at that time, Rev. Dan LeRoy, was at NewHope’s launch.

When our founding Senior Pastor resigned last September, there was no succession plan in place to appoint the next Senior Pastor. As such, the Wesleyan District, who helps govern the church, determined NewHope would follow the denominational bylaws and guidelines (“The Discipline”) of the Wesleyan Church to ensure a proper legal process. The District Board of the Wesleyan Church, under the leadership of Reverend Jonathan Lewis, authorized NewHope’s Advisory Team to make decisions on behalf of the whole church body, as appointed elders of the congregation. This Team conducted the required search for a new Senior Pastor and after much prayer and reflection, submitted their recommendations to the District Board, who made the final decision on who to seat as the next Senior Pastor.

Two members of NewHope’s Executive Team hired the national search firm, under the direction of Dr. Benji Kelley, and were both involved in Search Team activities from October to March 2023. Once interviews began, these two ET members participated in certain interviews and in-person meetings but not all due to having a fellow Executive Team Member as the internal candidate. Though governance rules prevented them, as church employees, from having a final vote in appointing their own supervisor, they were both given the opportunity to provide the full Advisory Team and the District Superintendent, with a recommendation of their top two candidates, which was considered in the final recommendation to the District Board. In addition, several ministry staff members were given the opportunity to have in-person conversations during the final interview stage and provide feedback.

Because our internal candidate was also teaching at NewHope and booking guest teachers to speak months in advance, scheduling external candidates to visit NewHope on a Sunday morning to preach, while keeping their candidate identity confidential, was going to be challenging. So, as an alternative solution, the Search Team sent congregational delegations to the external candidate’s home church to experience and assess their live preaching style and capabilities. In addition, during these mystery visits, the Search Team was able to gain valuable insight into their current church leadership structure, attendance numbers and watched how they interacted with staff and the worship team. The Search Team also watched hours of online sermons, recorded podcasts and 1:1 interviews. The in-person experience of visiting the external candidates live, Sunday morning preaching was pre-approved by the District Board as having sufficiently met the requirement of preaching exposure by candidates.

Our Executive Pastor, Fran Helpingstine, will be staying at NewHope until she decides to retire. Our CFO, Patrick Weber, will be staying at NewHope until he decides to retire. Fran and Patrick will continue to serve as voting members of the Advisory Team. Pastor Adam inherits an amazing staff ministry team who love the NewHope family. Change and transition always create a level of uncertainty, and we’d like to reassure the NewHope Church family that there are no plans to impact current staff positions.

After our founder, Dr. Benji Kelley, resigned in September 2022, the Wesleyan Church -- as well as NewHope’s senior executive staff -- determined it was in the best interests of the church to conduct a thorough and prayerful search for a new senior pastor. Pastor Benji and members of the Executive Team decided to hire a respected consultancy firm with a stellar reputation for pastoral recruiting, Vanderbloemen, to help.

The search team consisted of NewHope Advisory Board Members and former Personnel Team members (congregational members who averaged about 12 years’ tenure at NewHope), the Superintendent of the N.C. East District Wesleyan Church, and two (2) members of the NewHope Staff Executive Team, as extended non-voting Team Members. For more information on the diversity of the team, watch this video.

As we’ve reported previously to the NewHope family, thousands of potential applicants clicked on the advertised job opportunity, more than 160 qualified candidates applied, and they were narrowed down to 4 finalists. After a thorough vetting process, God moved the hearts of the team toward one (1) pastoral candidate, Pastor Adam, who received the strongest recommendation to go to the district board for review and approval. 

This video fully explains the search process and the evaluation pillars used for conducting the search. Our search firm, Vanderbloemen, described NewHope’s senior pastor interview/selection process as one of the best they’d seen amongst the thousands of churches they work with.

This search was conducted with as much transparency as allowed. Early on, we sought input from a number of staff and the congregation via survey tools which helped us to build the candidate profile that would later inform our hiring pillars. We kept the NewHope family updated regularly on the search team’s progress through our HUB. We used best-in-class recruiting methods for HR and church hiring, conducted multiple stages of interviews using independent scoring and followed the guidelines mandated by our Wesleyan Denomination to ensure equitable treatment of all the candidates.

Yes. The Wesleyan District Superintendent, Reverend Jonathan Lewis, supervised this entire search and personally helped to evaluate the finalists in their alignment and beliefs with our church theology. Ensuring the search team utilized correct guidelines based on our classification and current governance structure, he validated the methods as well as ensured the process was conducted with integrity and transparency, and the recommendation was spirit-led by the team.

The process that was followed:

  • The senior pastor hire had to first go through proper vetting by non-staff members of the Search Team, also considered the Local Board of Administration (or Elder Board) who were authorized congregation members vested with district authority to lead the evaluation process, on their behalf.
  • The Search Team also involved our extended members (NewHope Staff Executive Team, non-voting) in a number of meetings and interviews, at various stages of the search process in order to provide staff feedback and inputs. These extended team members also provided us with two (2) names of individuals whom they recommended for possible hire, before voting occurred. This input was taken into consideration.
  • The results of that evaluation went to our District Board for review and the district board actually made the final decision on who to hire. Pastor Adam received unanimous approval by vote and was affirmed by our District Board.

Pastor Adam Bishop and his family cannot wait to meet all of you! They will be joining us officially June 1, 2023, and Pastor Adam will be working behind the scenes for a few weeks to start building relationships with our beloved staff and our army of volunteers and then begin preaching to our congregation on Sunday, June 18, 2023. We are planning a special commissioning ceremony that day, which is Father’s Day. You don’t want to miss it!

Our commitments and ministry priorities are the same as they have always have been. We appreciate all change brings a level of uncertainty. We would like to reassure everyone at NewHope that we anticipate all our fantastic staff will remain in place and ministries will continue as normal.

Change and transition can be difficult and is never easy. We recognize that saying goodbye to Reece and his family will be sad for members of our church family. We believe God’s best is yet to come for NewHope, and we pray you’ll join us in fully embracing Pastor Adam and his family as they settle in. As you process and pray - stay engaged, stay plugged in and stay in community as the Body of Christ so that we stay unified and focused on our mission.

Time can be a great healer! We would ask that you pray with us during this season and invite God into your processing, to give the transition time to settle through the summer and be open to what God can do through our new Senior Pastor.

NewHope Church celebrated and honored Reece and his family at a special pastor appreciation event on Sunday, May 28, 2023, his final Sunday at NewHope.

May 19, 2023 - Senior Pastor Announcement

The Advisory Team and the District Board of our Wesleyan Denomination are excited to announce the next Senior Pastor.

Click here to view video!

May 18, 2023 - Senior Pastor Update

After six months of prayerful deliberation and discerning the Holy Spirit, the Team has come to a decision.

Click here to view video!

May 8, 2023 - The Search Team is working diligently to complete final stages of our Senior Pastor search

Our goal is to keep you informed! With that we wanted to share one final team update…

Click here to view video!

March 28, 2023 - William Vanderbloemen, our consultant, shares about the search that’s underway!

God has put some amazing candidates in front of NewHope Church!

Click here to view video!

March 26, 2023 - Congregation video update

The Senior Pastor Search Team is a diverse group of NewHopers made up of former Personnel Team members, professionals, retirees, leaders in the marketplace and former Pastors – who have a deep and abiding love for this church! …The Team is very focused and dedicated to help find the next visionary that God has chosen.

Click here to view video!

March 9, 2023 - Frequently asked questions and timeline

As March rolls in, our Senior Pastor search is ramping up! Lots of behind-the-scenes work has been unfolding as we are about to enter candidate interviews. At this stage, we thought it would be helpful to share a few frequently asked questions that we’ve received.

Click here to read more!

January 11, 2023 - Ideal candidate profile and job description developed

Regarding the Senior Pastor search, the Personnel Team has been hard at work.... Using input from the Personnel Team, the Executive Team, church staff and others, we developed an ideal candidate profile, and wrote the job description.

Click here to read more!

November 2, 2022 - We signed with Vanderbloemen

We have signed with Vanderbloemen, the only Christian Executive Search Firm with membership in the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) to secure top candidates for the role. William Vanderbloemen, CEO and Founder, is leading the search for us!

Click here to read more!

Senior Pastor Search Team

Photo of William Vanderbloemen

William Vanderbloemen

Founder & CEO - Vanderbloemen

Photo of Pastor Jonathan Lewis

Pastor Jonathan Lewis

Superintendent / NC East District Wesleyan Church

Photo of Brook Houchens

Brook Houchens


Attending since 2009

Photo of Jim Kitchen

Jim Kitchen


Attending since 2006

Photo of Blake Stansell

Blake Stansell


Attending since 2011

Photo of Kara Mason

Kara Mason

Attending since 2019

Photo of Eric Michaux

Eric Michaux

Attending since 2015

Photo of Dr. Stephanie Eissens

Dr. Stephanie Eissens

Attending since 2009

Photo of Pastor Ernest Mullins

Pastor Ernest Mullins

Attending since 2008

Photo of Bruce Hollis

Bruce Hollis

Attending since 2009

Photo of Harold  Hicks

Harold Hicks

Attending since 2011

Photo of Dr. Brett Blair

Dr. Brett Blair

Attending since 2010

Photo of Fran Helpingstine

Fran Helpingstine

Executive Pastor NewHope Staff

Attending since 2005