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Gazette Premium Content First Presbyterian will vote on Texan’s bid for co-pastor

By PAUL ASAY THE GAZETTE Updated: February 9, 2005 at 12:00 am
A Texas minister has been nominated to become co-pastor — and future senior pastor — of one of Colorado Springs’ largest, most influential churches.
First Presbyterian Church, a downtown congregation with 5,000 members, will introduce the Rev. James Singleton on Sunday, where he will preach at the church’s three morning services. Members will meet at 6:30 p.m. Sunday to vote whether to accept the 47-year-old Singleton as the church’s co-pastor. If members approve the nominee — it would be a surprise if they didn’t — Singleton will start full time for First Presbyterian this spring. Singleton would replace the retiring Rev. John Stevens as senior pastor. Stevens, 66, has led the church since 1971. “We are absolutely thrilled,” said Mary Ann Marks, vice chairwoman of the church’s Co-Pastor Nominating Committee. “He’s a good preacher and has a lot of vision.” Singleton, a native Oklahoman, has led the 2,000-member Covenant Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas, since 1999. He also has taught at the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He received his seminary degree from Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Va. Singleton was unavailable for comment. First Presbyterian mailed a packet of information to its members Tuesday that included comments from the pastor. “We have a whole generation that is not so much agnostic as ‘ignostic,’” he said. “That is, they do not know what they believe.” First Presbyterian officials think Singleton will attract nonbelievers, many of whom didn’t grow up attending church. “I think that Jim Singleton has the gift of evangelism,” said the Rev. Jim Smith, executive pastor for First Presbyterian. “Jim is a guy who is able to connect with people who aren’t sure what to believe.” If approved, Singleton will replace one of Colorado Springs’ most influential religious leaders. Stevens has led First Presbyterian through several building and renovation projects, and he presided over scores of new programs and outreach efforts. He is widely known for his powerful preaching style, and First Presbyterian has grown from 3,100 to 5,000 members during his 34-year tenure. “I think they’re very complementary, one to the other,” Marks said of Stevens and Singleton. “Assuming the affirmative vote, this is a great opportunity for the church to grow.” The nominating committee spent more than a year in its selection process, eventually going outside its pool of resumes to recruit Singleton. CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0367 or pasay@gazette.com AT A GLANCE First Presbyterian Church 219 E. Bijou St. Founded: 1872 Membership: 5,000
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