The push and pull of all transitions l Worship

By John and Joan Beck, Pointe of Grace Lutheran Church | Jun 19, 2019

Human beings are complicated. Emotions fuel that complexity. Beginnings bring excitement and anxiety; routines quickly create boredom and flatness; and endings lead to grief, nostalgia and a look back.

We have served since 2017 as the interim or transitional pastors at Pointe of Grace Lutheran Church (on Harbour Pointe Blvd.). Our work involved providing transitional leadership to help Pointe of Grace move from being a satellite worship and ministry site related to a church in Lynnwood, to becoming a fully autonomous congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). We knew this work would be time-limited.

That time is now. Our final Sunday will be June 30. Everyone is invited to the party at 11 a.m., even if you can’t make it for worship at 9:30. As we move fully into this ending, we are reminded of the promises God makes to be with us in just such times, especially when they are hard or complicated.

Between now and then we hope for chances to say goodbye. Give us a call (425-263-8730) or an email (pastorjohn@pointeofgrace.org; pastorjoan@pointeofgrace.org) or come on June 30. We could give a long list of events and people who have made an impact, and we are grateful.

In this space, we want to explain one aspect of the complicated ethics of pastoral transitions. When pastors leave a congregation, they are not allowed to stay connected to the people and community they have served. Although former pastors routinely are asked to perform weddings, funerals, baptisms, etc., they must graciously, but firmly, decline.

This policy has two significant purposes.

First, it protects the next pastor’s ability to bond with their new people. Bonding can be undercut even if members innocently reach out to former pastors with updates on what is happening or what is driving them crazy.

Second, the policy helps congregations focus on the future and not the past, avoiding pointless comparisons about how things used to be done.

After an extended period – usually two to three years – pastors can reconnect a bit more with the former community and congregation, but always only after alerting the current pastor to their intentions and expected interactions. Having these pastoral boundaries in place does not make transition any easier, but it helps avoid larger patterns that can undercut the new pastor’s ministry.

We are sad to depart Pointe of Grace and Mukilteo because of the deep affection we have for this community and the Pointe of Grace congregation.

At the same time, we are hopeful as we wait to discover what God has in store for us next. Who knows, maybe it is retirement.

Human beings are complicated. Emotions fuel that complexity. It has been wonderful to serve here.

 

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