It is summer, and with the Coronavirus, many summer activities have been dropped. There is more time for reflection. With you, I can reflect on the interim process.
What are the tasks for an interim pastor and congregation?
1) Come to grips with past history
As an interim, I have listened to many of you express what you liked and didn’t like about the ways things have gone in the past. It is normal to have much of that conversation center on the previous pastor and his/her ministry. I know you have come to grips with the past, because I seldom hear about it. You are focused on the present and future except mourning somewhat about the Coronavirus, as all of us are. There is nothing wrong with that. The epidemic has been hard on all of us.
2) Allow for change in leadership.
It’s normal for leadership to change in a new era. There were folks that were close to the previous pastor and things seem uncomfortable without the previous pastor. There are folks that have been wanting to step up for a while, but held back. We have transitioned in several areas. The biggest change has been in Council. It has gone well. There are good folks who are resting now, and other good leaders stepped forward.
3) Change and improve the things that need work
You have come a long way in stewardship, committee work, and Sunday School. Church building is in much better shape than a year ago. Still have work ahead reforming some of the committees and in attracting young families to worship, whether traditional Sunday morning or other possibilities. The Coronavirus stalled plans to do much of that, but will still proceed when virus is not an issue.
4) Strengthen the connections with other churches and Synod, larger church
The Northeast Minnesota Synod has been a big help in this time of transition. They have found suitable candidates that passed background checks and are familiar with Lutheran theology. Without their help you would not have connected with me, nor your next pastor. We continue to work with Trinity regarding youth and confirmation. We continue to give to Lutheran missionaries and send money, quilts and supplies to the larger church. Overall our connections are stronger, and Zion has benefited from those connections.
Some people have been displeased with political stances by the Synod and national church, and both you and I have expressed those concerns both to the Bishop and to the Presiding Bishop. In the bigger picture, we are mostly in agreement with the wider church. We agree on missionaries, most theology, theological education, Lutheran World Relief, Lutheran Social Services and many other things.
Summer is the time when most pastors move. It wouldn’t surprise me if the call committee had a candidate soon.
See you next week at the bandshell (June 28th)! Blessings on your summer time until then. PG