Pastoral Transition: A work in progress

By Peter Hanson, Lead Pastor

As we continue to celebrate Pastor Hannah’s ministry at Christ the King and give thanks to God for her five wonderful years serving among us, we have now moved into the first of two distinct stages of the interim and call process which will bring us a new Associate Pastor. 

Many of you remember the year-long interim that coincided with the call process of 2013. According to the Saint Paul Area Synod, the process for calling an Associate Pastor is noticeably different from (and typically shorter than) that of a Lead Pastor. There are certain essential items that need our attention during these two phases.

Phase One: Interim Pastoral Ministry

Members of the council, the personnel committee, and I have begun to interview candidates suggested by the synod to provide interim pastoral coverage. According to CtK’s policy and practice, the responsibility for engaging an Interim Pastor lies with the Congregational Council and does not necessitate a congregational vote. It is our intention to have a full-time person in place to provide interim ministry by mid-October. While sustaining the ministries for which Pastor Hannah was responsible, the Interim Pastor will also help discern what the new Associate Pastor job description may include.

Phase Two: Call Process

After the arrival of the Interim Pastor, we will form an Associate Pastor Call Committee. This committee of no fewer than five voting members needs to be approved by an official vote of the congregation. After seeking input from the congregation and receiving the job description approved by the personnel committee and council, the call committee will review candidates recommended by the synod and begin interviews. Once the Call Committee has one final candidate and that candidate has been approved by the council, a two-thirds majority congregational vote is needed to call this person as Associate Pastor.  

Our timing going forward

While it is difficult to say with any certainty how long this process might take, most pastoral interims should last about one month for every year of the previous pastor’s service. In this case, we are looking for an interim of about five months. Many other factors, of course, can alter this timing: balancing the need for continuity with the need for new visions and directions, the timing of Advent and Christmas and our Annual Meeting, as well as the changing sense among synod leadership that pastoral interims have generally become too long. 

As our annual theme Bible verse (Colossians 3:12) reminds us, in addition to compassion we need to clothe ourselves in patience, trusting above all that God will provide for us the kind of pastoral leader we need for this next chapter of life at CtK.