The Call Process, Louis and Me
It has been almost five months since Louis and I both arrived here at Living Lord. I have loved my time here with all of you and with him as my new colleague. I believe God brought us all together during this transition time and I trust we are all serving Christ faithfully together through Living Lord. People have asked if Louis and I are available to be considered for the call process for the senior and associate pastor positions here. I’m writing this article to respond to those questions.
For myself, my calling and joy is to serve as an interim pastor, and I will seek another interim call when your next senior pastor is in sight. Moreover, in general interim senior pastors are seldom considered for a call in the same congregation for these reasons:
· Interim ministry is distinct from long-term ministry. It is frequently confusing and unsuccessful when a pastor switches roles.
· Interim pastors often need to make difficult decisions or raise tough questions. They need the freedom to do this without wondering if it would affect a congregation’s willingness to call them, or worrying that it may jeopardize their long-term relationship with some members.
· Potential candidates often hesitate to interview for a call if there is a candidate who is already known by the congregation. I do not want to limit your choice of candidates in any way! At the same time, I also want to note some unique features about Louis’ covenant at Living Lord.
Louis’ term here ends when the next associate pastor is called. His call is not coterminous with mine so he does not have to leave when I do. This was designed to provide the longest possible tenure and maximum stability both for him and for Living Lord.
In fact, Louis could eventually be considered for call to the associate pastor position here. For a variety of reasons, even though it seldom works for interim senior pastors, it can sometimes work for interim associate pastors to stay. Now, having said that, please be aware many things would have to happen before that possibility can even be considered:
· The next senior pastor will need to be here first.
· Louis, Living Lord, the bishop and the next senior pastor would all need to agree to the desirability of this possibility.
· Louis will need to complete CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) and internship before he can be considered for a call and ordination.
· After his wife, Ella, completes her internship at the Bridge later this year, she will also be seeking a call, which may or may not end up nearby.
So with that in mind, I encourage everyone to be patient, have trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and take one step at a time. We seldom see the end of our journeys, but in faith we know that God walks with us every step of the way.
And let’s make the most of every moment we have together. However long we are here, Louis and I will give you our full energy and attention. We won't slack off! What we are all doing now together in these few months can positively affect Living Lord Lutheran Church for many years. This will help you fulfill your potential to be a strong congregation and recruit and retain good pastors. This is our hope and goal for you. We are confident that God is already preparing just the right candidates to be your next pastors! See you in church!
Pastor Lanny Westphal
p.s. I continue enjoying my exploration of your community. Since my last newsletter article, I’ve visited the Brewery Lights, Old Courthouse museum, City Museum, and Union Station with the new Aquarium. I also had a good visit with family and friends over the holidays. A special treat was seeing my sisters who came from Idaho and Ukraine to visit my mom and brother in Minnesota. Thank you for making it possible for me to have these monthly visits home!