I have actually had experience as an interim pastor. It was for a healthy congregation in Vancouver, Washington. The preceding pastor enjoyed a strong 8-year tenure. Their next pastor enjoyed an 11-year ministry. I was relating that experience to a colleague. She asked when I had been an interim. I said, “It began in the summer of 1999 and lasted eight months.” She said, “So you were an interim in the previous century.” The message was clear. A lot has changed in recent decades. But I do recall from that Synod’s training process the five major tasks of an interim pastor. (1) Articulate Congregational History. (2) Develop Lay Leadership. (3) Prepare for New Pastoral Leadership. (4) Articulate Congregational Identity. (5) Renew Connection to the Synod. I have a lot of Interim Pastor Technique to review/re-learn. I am counting on colleagues in our Synod to help me with that.
I loved the congregation from which I recently retired. Every day I had a reason to pause with gratitude for the gift of being in that place. But that relationship ended April 30. Now, as a retired pastor in our Synod, I am grateful to begin a new relationship with you at Living Lord Lutheran Church. I am not your called pastor; I am your assigned interim pastor. Those are different roles. But the commitment to preaching the Word, administering the Sacraments, praying with and for you, being available to you for pastoral emergencies, and attending your meetings is the same.
You will find me open, receptive, and transparent. I am available to answer your phone calls any time. I am working into the routine of being in your office on Wednesdays from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm. I enjoy teaching. I especially have an interest in prayer. I love how many of you have agreed to pray together each night at 8:00 pm for your congregation in transition between called pastors.
My autobiography is diverse. I was born in a slow, small-town in Wisconsin, yet raised in a nice suburb of Oregon. I served a congregation in Seattle’s inner-city district—quite dangerous. I served a congregation adjacent to a college in Portland—quite academic. I served a sophisticated urban congregation in St. Paul, Minnesota—quite artsy. I served a congregation in a small city in Wisconsin—quite predictable. I retired from serving Messiah in Ashtabula, Ohio–quite joyful! Now I get to serve you, as your interim—quite the privilege! I pray this in between time for your congregation will be blessed. I pray you will grow ever more closely together, that you will grow more deeply in relationship with God, that you will continue to serve your neighbors, and that all who come through your inviting doors will be fed with the Bread of Life.