Pastor’s article for LifeTimes, Lord of Life’s monthly newsletter; July, 2014
I hung up the phone after I’d been notified that Trinity Lutheran Church in Owatonna had voted that morning to call me as their new senior pastor. I told Lori the news, and we both looked at each other, not exactly sure what to do, or to say.
Excitement? Absolutely. This is a tremendous opportunity. Trinity Lutheran is a very good congregation that recently completed a large building expansion (sound familiar?) and is thinking about the very best way that they can use it to carry out God’s mission in their community and in the world. They are gifted and passionate, and are looking forward. It’s energizing to think about being in that role in that community.
Terrified? Of course. Trinity, like all congregations, face big challenges. They have a debt that needs to be reduced (sound familiar?) and face all of the same pressures that all churches face.
Sad? Yes. I have 27 years of amazing relationships here. When I came to Lord of Life I never could have imagined that I’d be here 27 years later. But I fell in love with the people. And as the church has grown, my ministry was formed. I’ve learned so much from you, from Pastor Peter, from all of my colleagues. Leaving Lord of Life will be incredibly difficult.
But called? Yes, confidently. God is doing something new in the lives of me and my family. God will be doing something new at Lord of Life, and at Trinity. As I’ve walked through this process, I’ve tried to pay attention to God’s Holy Spirit, working in my midst. Lori and I talked about our “escape hatches.” As in “…if __________ doesn’t work out, we can always walk away…and then if ____________ doesn’t work out, we can walk away…and then…” But as we went through the call process, one-by-one, all of our escape hatches closed up, until really, the only thing left in front of me was to receive and accept this call. It has all fallen into place.
This reminds me of God’s great faithfulness. I have seen God journey with me in this process. And I believe that as exciting, terrifying, and sad as it may be, this is the right thing for us. And I am equally confident that God will continue to be faithful to Lord of Life. This change brings an opportunity for a new and different future for the church. And you still have great leaders…and God will still be present and at work. I firmly believe that Lord of Life’s best days are still yet to come.
So as I felt called to come to Lord of Life in 1987, today I feel called to a different place. But I leave with 27 years of wonderful memories and ministry. It has been an honor to take this journey with you. Thank you for all you have done for me and my family; for your friendship, love and support. While I may no longer be serving as your pastor, please know that I will always call you friends.