I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth; do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert. -Isaiah 43:19
“How are you doing Pastor Gretchen? Are you okay? Are you tired?” Yup! I am. But I am also so grateful for the work and trust that I have been given in this congregation. Every pastor longs for a place for their gifts to be fully utilized and appreciated, and this congregation is all of that for me. I am so humbled by your care and appreciation as I have learned to step up over the last year and a half of flying (mostly) solo. I have also learned that I am truly a team ministry player, and I am deeply looking forward to whatever rostered leader is called to serve alongside all of us in our work together here.
“What’s a rostered leader, Pastor Gretchen?” I am SO glad you asked! In our larger church body, the ELCA (www.elca.org) we have two rosters: Word and Sacrament (pastors) and Word and Service (deacons). Both rosters require degrees from seminary, but where a pastor has a master of divinity degree, a deacon has an MA in theology. Pastors focus on sacramental ministry – the embodiment of God’s grace that is found in the sacraments of Holy Baptism and Communion. Deacons focus on how God’s grace happens both inside the church, and outside the church through service ministries such as social justice, education, music, nursing, and so on. Our congregation would be well served (as it has in the past) by two pastors, or by a new configuration of a pastor and a deacon. Given our history of social justice work, community involvement, and the desire to do healthy outreach, a deacon might just be exactly what God wants to send us. Our work together as a congregation, and as the call committee has opened this path for us as a potential fit. Now it just remains to see who is listening for that call. It could be a deacon, it could be a pastor – it really depends on who is the right person for the call.
Over the past few years, the tension between serving my congregation and serving my family as mother and spouse has become more and more intense. I’ve been finding myself wondering which side of my life has been getting the short end of the stick, and I’ve come to realize it’s my family. I have requested, and our Council has agreed, that I might go to ¾ time pastoring when a new rostered leader joins our congregation. I believe that being in a team ministry situation will bolster my energy, and require less of my time in the building. I would be hoping to work out a 3 weeks on – 1 week off scenario, with the three weeks being full time, and the week being family focused sabbath from congregational work. This will allow me to focus on my family’s needs, rather than squishing it in between other things.
I am so deeply grateful for the work and ministry I am called to do in this place, and I only see things getting better from here on in. God is about to do a new thing at Our Redeemer’s, and I am totally here for it. Thanks be to God.