I write this as my last newsletter article as your Intentional Interim Pastor. I will complete my time with you on Sunday, July 7, a week before your vote to extend a Call to Pastor Tina. Judging the enthusiasm expressed by both the Call Committee members and the Church Council Members, I have no doubt that this will usher in a new wave of exciting ministry at Grace Lutheran Church.
It has been an honor to serve with you in this community of faith. I sometimes found myself sounding a little like a cheerleader as I shared with you my observations. It is not uncommon for someone from outside the history of a church to see more of the positive than current members are able to see. I very much believe that you are poised to see wonderful things happen here at Grace. You have so many persons committed to the ministry of Christ, and so many expressions of his love extended in the ministry you extend to many persons in Red Lion. As you move forward with a full-time Called Pastor, this will be a time to build on the strengths of the congregation and to minimize any hindrances to working together in the grace of Jesus Christ.
I have been a part of your lives for over two years and this has brought me great joy. One of the hardest aspects of Intentional Interim Ministry is the obligation, according to my contract and the ministerial ethics statement of our Synod that I fully disengage with you once I leave. This means that I cannot and will not be available for ministerial functions such as funerals and weddings once I leave. While I will continue to carry you in my prayers and in my heart, I may not return as a pastor in your midst. As you bond to a new fully Called Pastor this will become easier for all of us and eventually will not even be a concern. My plans at this time are to fully retire from active ministry and to perhaps occasionally supply preach. I ask that you keep me in your prayers as I too, enter into a new phase of life.
As you seek together with a new Pastor the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I pray you will be open to new vistas of ministry, new opportunities to serve Christ, and new expressions of hope in the future. I look forward to hearing about Grace in Synod news and I am confident you will meet the challenges facing all of our churches with grace and dignity. May the blessings of Christ always upon your lives and your ministry.