by Jenifer Eriksen Morales
Change is inevitable. Every congregation moves through times of change that lead to a period of transition. How a congregation responds during a transition is key to continued health and wellness. Transitions are a part of our communal faith and life. If we invite God’s Spirit to guide us through these times there is potential for transformation.
Change brought by the loss of a pastor can be especially difficult for many congregation. Regardless of the reason for the pastoral change, congregational emotion tends to run high. This time of transition between pastors has the potential to shape a church’s identity and strengthen their health well into the future. Studies show that healthy transitions require congregations to address their past, allow for new lay leadership, think about their identity, set a vision and goals for the future, renew connections with other congregations and/or their denomination, and commit to new directions and leadership. Therefore, along with God’s Spirit, congregations often invite specially trained intentional interim ministers to journey with them and lead them through the months and sometimes year or more between pastors.
Intentional Interim Ministers are often experienced pastors with a call and specialized training gifts and skills that enable them to help congregations respond to change and envision the future. An intentional interim minister helps a congregation take advantage of the opportunities presented through change. By providing pastoral leadership (preaching, teaching, pastoral care) and by helping a congregation identify and work through specific transition priorities and tasks within a designated time frame, an Intentional Interim Minister equips and empowers a congregation to be as ready as possible to receive a new pastor and move forward in God’s purpose and vision for them.
As Franconia Conference works to equip leaders within congregations, once again a partnership with Lancaster, Atlantic Coast, and Eastern District Conferences has come together to provide an Intentional Interim Pastor Training on October 26 – 30, 2015 at Towamencin Mennonite Church. Pastors who complete the 40 hour training are certified to serve as Intentional Interim Pastors in MCUSA and Canada. Trainers with a wealth of experience and knowledge utilize various teaching techniques and case studies to prepare participants to understand and address the unique needs of congregations in transition and offer insight and tools for guiding congregations through these “in between” times.
Previous participant Fred Kaufman stated, “The Intentional Interim Pastor Training made me aware that transition is a time of promise and seeking again to name the call of the church and be faithful to that.”
Any pastor who is considering intentional interim ministry in the future or who would like tools for understanding and leading through times of change is strongly encouraged to take this course while it is being offered locally. An early registration discount is available through August 31, 2015 and registration is limited to 30 participants.