Church in Transition

Date posted: Wednesday 05 December 2018

In 2018, the Saint Paul Area Synod released "Stories of the Synod," a 24-page stewardship booklet detailing the synod's work. The stories inside are just a glimpse of the work that Mission Support makes possible. One of those stories, below, is about the work that the synod does to support congregations during times of transition.


A big transition

“There is very little that doesn’t excite me about calling Pastor Taryn,” says Susan Abrahamson. Susan serves as Council President at Chisago Lake Lutheran in Center City, and they just called a new pastor: the Rev. Taryn Montgomery.


“As our congregation moved into the transition from one pastor to a new pastor I was not really certain what to expect,” she reveals. “At first it was a bit overwhelming; it was hard to even see past saying goodbye to our long-time pastors. But step by step we began moving forward and that was exciting.”


Church life is full of transition, but one of the biggest transitions a congregation will make is calling a new pastor. The Saint Paul Area Synod is equipped to help our churches navigate through the process and be a partner in the quest for a new pastor.


“Pastor Joe did a great job of training the call committee,” says Bonnie Anderson. Bonnie served as Call Committee Chair in the search for Pastor Taryn. From leading devotions, using the Call Manual, and doing practice interviews, to filling out a Ministry Site Profile and finding candidates, the Rev. Joe Lees walked with Chisago Lake through their transition.


“It was an amazing thing to see all those steps fulfilled and things moving in step with that initial timeline set out by the synod,” Susan says. “The synod provided resources for us both in personal, online, and in printed form. I never felt in the dark about what happens next.”


Discerning what to look for

Pastor Joe, who led Chisago Lake through their call process, serves as assistant to the bishop for vital congregations, vital partnerships in the synod office. In addition to helping congregations through call processes, Pastor Joe convenes interim pastors. That was how the synod helped St. Mark’s Lutheran in Randolph during their pastoral transition.


For the community at St. Mark’s, the synod found Interim Pastor Chris Becker. Pastor Chris worked together with church leadership to bolster worship, education programs, and pastoral care. Doug Bakken, council president at St. Mark’s, was grateful for this interim time. “This helped us, then we knew what we wanted to look for as strengths in a new pastor,” he reveals. When St. Mark’s called the Rev. Lue Moua, what stuck out to Doug was his gifts in pastoral care. From visiting homebound members to leading a prayer vigil, “he has shown he is a very nurturing person.”


Led by the Holy Spirit

While the Saint Paul Area Synod handles about 55 transitions per year, it is in those careful planning meetings that we witness the Holy Spirit at work. For Pastor Joe, this is the most joyous part of his work with call processes. Many times, he has seen “a call committee experiencing the Holy Spirit leading and guiding them to a candidate that everyone supports.”


It can be assured that both Chisago Lake Lutheran and St. Mark’s Lutheran are thrilled about their new pastors. And so are those they called.


“The future is unknown and full of surprises I am sure, but that’s what makes ministry exciting,” exclaims the Rev. Taryn Montgomery, who was called to serve Chisago Lake. “Together, we are living into the new thing God is doing!”




Stories of the Synod

Churches are encouraged to share the content of these stories in their congregations. Any re-print should include: Saint Paul Area Synod, To request printed copies of the booklet, please call 651.224.4313. A PDF of the booklet is also available here.