Interim Update: What Are We Doing about Finding a New Pastor?
Many among us have been asking this question. Life without a full-time pastor is hard for a congregation. Therefore, we are all anxious to get the process of calling a new pastor started.
We would like our congregation to know that our leadership has been working diligently towards this goal.
In order to call a new pastor, the congregation needs to fill in a lengthy form called a “Site Profile”. In that form, all kinds of questions are asked: about Zion’s mission, Zion’s education programs, Zion’s expectations of a new pastor, areas of parish ministry Zion wants to focus on, Zion’s financial picture, Zion’s challenges in the past and how they were overcome, Zion’s plans for the future, and more.
In order to be able to faithfully answer such questions, Zion has to take stock and examine its current condition and vision.
Toward this end, we offered the Purpose Statement Workshop. During that workshop, many of our faithful people prayed, read scripture, and discussed what God’s vision for Zion is. We arrived at a beautiful purpose statement: God’s purpose for Zion Lutheran Church is to be a welcoming home for all by sharing God’s word and blessings. This was an important question to answer before beginning our call process.
Additionally, our council has been working on being the best congregational leaders they can be. We have agreed to a covenant of conduct and strive to be as faithful as possible in our decision making. We are setting aside a segment of time at each meeting to work on healthy congregation skills, patterns of behavior and speech that will lead to health within the congregation and trust between leadership and people. Being a healthy congregation with trusted leadership is essential before starting a new call process.
We are also taking a critical look at our finances. Right now, we have sufficient restricted funds to pay our organ and elevator loans, but we are not meeting our budget and have to take money out of cash reserves to pay our bills. We need to improve this situation before we can afford to call a full-time pastor. So both the council and the finance committee are pondering ways to improve our financial picture, such as through grants, rentals, stewardship education, etc., so a new pastor can feel safe about coming to serve us.
A next step of our leadership will be to evaluate our ongoing ministries in the light of our new purpose statement: Are our committees, teams, and groups contributing to Zion achieving its God-given purpose? This evaluation process will help us to focus our energy and become strong in those areas where God calls us to serve.
In the ELCA, the average vacancy between pastors is currently 18 months. Needing a bilingual pastor might add some time to this interim time. Our council and congregational leadership is trying to make the best use of this time by developing the church’s spirit, ministry, sense of call, and focus, so that – once interviews begin – we are the best congregation we can be.
While we await our new pastor, please pray:
For God’s guidance and sustaining presence
For our congregation’s leadership and council
For our people to maintain faithfulness and hope
For the new pastor God is preparing for us
Yours in Christ,
The Council of Zion Lutheran Church