Moving Into the Future

 

Moving Into the Future

Search for Associate Pastor

Scripture Text: Jeremiah 29:11

Following the resignation of Pastor Lura in December of 2018, our church embarked on the Interim Ministry process, a service provided through LCMC. The purpose of this service is to help congregational leaders chart a general course going forward, as they prepare the way for a new pastor. This information is utilized by the Call Committee in their search process. The implementation and fine-tuning of a future path will take place once the new pastor is on board.

One role of an intentional interim pastor is to assess the basic health of the congregation, and fix the things that need immediate attention — so that when the new pastor arrives, his starting months are not dominated by overdue essential tasks.

In May of 2019, Pastor Miller joined us as our intentional interim pastor. Following several months of studying the operations of our church, he recommended that St. Paul’s restructure our staffing model. This included the elimination of the Youth Director and Parish Nurse positions and replacing them with an Associate Pastor, after a new Senior Pastor was in place.

In August of 2019, after much deliberation, the Council approved this recommendation by a unanimous vote. These staffing changes were reflected in the proposed 2020 Mission Budget which the Council presented to the congregation. This budget was approved at the November 10, 2019 Annual Congregation Meeting. The Associate Pastor position has also been budgeted in the 2021 and 2022 budgets as well.

The Call Committee posted the job opening for a Senior Pastor at St. Paul’s on the LCMC website in late December, 2019. The job description posted included the following:

St. Paul's is in the midst of an Intentional Interim process which has included congregational input. As a result of that process and prayerful reflection, the Council and congregation have chosen to reconfigure our staffing model. Two positions are being phased out: a parish nurse and a youth director. They will be replaced by the addition of a second pastor - with duties to be apportioned between the two pastors. The Senior Pastor is being called first, but the same Call Committee will shift to filling the second vacancy after the new Senior Pastor is in place. The newly selected Senior Pastor will join the Call Committee in the selection of the additional clergy.

Then came 2020…with all its disruptions and difficulties…

But the year ended on a positive note… On December 13, 2020, the Council approved calling Pastor Mark Ryman to be our Senior Pastor. Pastor Ryman began his ministry at St. Paul’s on January 3, 2021. 

It was decided shortly thereafter to put the hiring of an Associate Pastor on hold based on the needs of the congregation at that time. Many at the church were still grieving the loss of the previous pastor and several beloved staff members, the music director / organist had resigned shortly after the beginning of the new year, and Pastor Ryman and Susan were living in Jeff and Mita Powlas’s apartment as the parsonage renovation was just getting started.

However, the primary reason to put the hiring of an Associate Pastor on hold was that it would have been a tremendous strain to move forward at a time when church attendance was so low.

Remember, that at that time, we were still operating under the disruptions brought about by Covid. In fact, it wasn’t until Easter Sunday, April 19, 2021, that our worship service returned to some semblance of normalcy, where there were no masking or social distancing requirements, and the liturgy and hymns were once again sung.

Since that time:

•    We have added over 30 new members 
•    Our weekly 10:30 worship attendance now averages around 180 
•    Our Sunday school attendance has been right at 100
•    We have added many new ministry opportunities such as:
•    Vespers at the parsonage every Sunday evening at 6:30, which is live-streamed on our Facebook page
•    An After-school program for Faith Academy students from 1–3pm on Mondays
•    Adult Confirmation Class in the chapel, at 10 am and 6pm on Tuesdays
•    Bible Study Class at 10 am and 6pm on Thursdays
•    Daily “Reading the Word with Luther” and “Comments on Galatians” on the church website
•    And I might add, a very successful Vacation Bible School

Pastor Ryman has kept the Council informed about when he felt it would be the right time to begin the search process for an Associate Pastor. Well, I am delighted to inform you that time has finally arrived! 

This past week, the Congregation Council voted unanimously to reconvene the Call Committee and finally begin the call process for an Associate Pastor. The Call Committee is made up of Chairman Eric Barringer, Gina Barringer, Susan Bernhardt, Paul Canup, Johnny Lombard, and Abby Walker. Alan Beaver, who graciously served on the Call Committee when Pastor Ryman was called, passed away on June 6, 2021. As was listed in his job posting, Pastor Ryman will join the Call Committee in their search.

This is an exciting time for our church as we see our ministry opportunities continue to grow. I would like to invite the congregation to pray with our Council and the Call Committee, that God would lead the Associate Pastor of His choosing to our church, just as He did with a Senior Pastor. 

We eagerly anticipate the addition of an Associate Pastor to our church family. We look forward to working together in the ministry opportunities that God has in store for us at St. Paul’s. 

— George Barringer
September 4, 2022

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