Getting Ready for the Future for Hope Congregation

On Monday, February 27, District President Rev. Peter Lange met with approximately 60 members of Hope Congregation to discuss the pre-retirement period for us and Pastor Harries and the resulting call process.  Circuit Visitor Rev. Lee Hovel, Lange’s “man on the ground,” was also in attendance.

 

What is the plan?

Ready: Congregational Self-study

As a part of the process of preparing for the transition into the call process, the congregation will go through a process of self-study. The details and format of this process have yet to be determined, but the purpose is to be able to articulate who we are as a congregation, where our strengths and values lie, and what type of pastor we would be seeking to work with us. This is when we will be focusing on our dreams and goals. Be thinking about what great ideas you may have for the congregation and how you can help us to get there.

Set: Celebrating Pastor Harries’ Retirement

A crucial part of the transition process is to plan the celebration event for Pastor Harries’ retirement. The Office of the Holy Ministry and Pastor Harries’ ministry with us have been important to the congregation. We have worshiped, grown, and celebrated together. By doing so, we recognize the importance of the pastoral office and we give a proper sendoff to our good and faithful servant on July 30. Plans are already beginning for the celebration. Mark your calendars now to attend.

Go!: Beginning the Call Process

Only after July 30 will the congregation be forming a call committee and begin the process of calling a pastor. The call committee will be given the important task of translating the congregation’s dreams and goals into identifying candidates that may be a good match. All of this will be done under the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we attempt to discern God’s will for us in finding a pastor. We are only the tools through which the Holy Spirit does his work.

 

Meeting Details

The meeting began with a brief devotion that included prayer and singing O God, Our Help in Ages Past.

President Lange described the role of the District President and the Circuit Visitor during the pre-retirement and call process.  Rev. Hovel will be working with the congregation and in direct communication with President Lange. Communication between Rev. Lee and the congregation is automatically forwarded to President Lange.

The presentation then focused upon the subject of the Office of the Holy Ministry and the Divine Call.  It is not uncommon for Lutherans not to understand what the Divine Call is and why it is important.

  1. The holy ministry is described in John 20:19-23. In this passage, Jesus told the disciples that He would be sending them into the world, just as the Father sent Jesus; a direct connection between Jesus being sent by divine authority and His apostles being sent with the same authority. The purpose of the ministry is the forgiveness and retention of sins.
  2. The Augsburg Confession, Article V: So that we may obtain this faith, the ministry of teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted.

  3. In Romans 10: 13-15, the apostle Paul described that people are called to faith in Jesus by preaching and preachers are sent into the world to bring good news to everyone (proclaiming the Gospel).
  4. The Augsburg Confession, Article XIV: Our churches teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church, or administer the Sacraments, without a rightly ordered call.

The topic of the Divine Call to the pastoral ministry is in itself, a serious study and has many implications as to the role of the pastor and the relationship between the pastor and the congregation.

 

Timeline

  1. Planning for retirement celebration (First Things First!)
  2. Planning for ministry transition – this phase involves a congregation self-study. The self-study is a standard document that can be found on the district’s website under the topic of congregation resources. The self-study can be facilitated by someone other than a member of the congregation. The goal will be to gain input from the congregation and then compile it into one report.
  3. Celebrating Pastor’s service in the ministry – Pastor Harries’ celebration will be July 30.

    NOTE: The vacancy only begins after July.

  4. Determining if an intentional time of vacancy would be healthy. There are circumstances when a length of time may be desirable for a congregation, e.g. a pastor retires after serving the same congregation for thirty years.
  5. Pre-Call Meeting
    1. Pastoral nominations are requested from the congregation – President Lange urged members to submit names of people they personally know; no names should be funneled through a person who heard from a person who heard from a person….
    2. Receive the Call List from President Lange
    3. Gather information on candidates & publish call list to the congregation
  6. Call Meeting

President Lange emphasized that members know the congregation’s constitution.  The Constitution and Bylaws can be found at http://hopelutheran.org/council.

Another potentially sensitive issue is the relationship between Pastor Harries after he retires and the congregation.  President Lange offered a situation whereby someone may request a retired pastor to serve at a wedding or other function. Some situations can cause problems that otherwise should be avoided.  Both the congregation and retired pastor need to be sensitive to potential situations that could create unintended conflict.

There was a period for questions and the meeting closed with a prayer offered by Rev. Hovel, the Lord’s Prayer, and Luther’s Evening Prayer.

For additional call documentation regarding the vacancy and call process, members can access the Kansas District website.