At the congregation meeting this past Sunday, I was asked if I would consider taking the call to All Saints Lutheran Church and I answered no. There wasn’t time to explain why at the meeting, but I thought I would try in my article this week.
The first reason is that it would be an unfair advantage as an interim pastor. My purpose is to help the congregation get the best pastor. It would be improper for me to influence the process if I wanted the call. I promised when I took the interim pastor job, both here and in the past, that I would do what is best for the congregations that I am called to serve. With that in mind, my limited role is to help you in the call process to get the best ordained pastor for your unique situation.
The second reason is that I am not a good match for All Saints Lutheran. This congregation does not need someone to just fill the role of pastor for the present day, but someone who is willing to commit to the future of the mission of Jesus Christ with the people of All Saints. You will be searching for a pastor who will be able to walk with you into the future, not just a year or two or three. You will need someone with the proper vision to work with you for years to come. You will also need to discover who you are willing to be as servants of our Lord and what you are willing to commit to the ministry to come. The call process with the call committee and the congregation workshop will help you to look beyond the past ministry of the congregation, meeting the present needs, and beyond to the future possibilities.
And the final reason, my recent illness has slowed me down a bit. I have had to examine the realities of what I will be able to accomplish in the future within the limitations of getting older. Though the congregation has been most gracious and supporting through my illness, I could not with good conscience say I was able to commit to the ordained ministry needed by All Saints. I, after some prayer and consideration, have decided to start the final part of my ordained ministry. It has always been my intention that when I retire, I would find a congregation that could not afford a pastor, but with a full-time pastor, has the potential for growth and one day calling and paying a full-time pastor. At the recent convocation I met with the church’s pension people and discovered that I could afford to retire when I turn 65 and go on Medicare. I was talking with some of my friends and one who is dean of the western Pennsylvania mission district said she had a possible congregation and, two days later, she told me they would like to call me when I have completed my work here. Being in Pennsylvania, it would allow me to visit with my family more often. They have been waiting years for a pastor and are willing to wait until my commitment here is accomplished.
In the meantime, there is much work to be done to prepare All Saints for their next pastor and to accomplish the call of that pastor. Together, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may we be found faithful in serving our Lord, Jesus Christ, according to the gifts God has given us.
Your servant in Christ’s Name,