The Pastor's Pen
I co-opted the title to the 1944 classic romantic comedy as I look forward to traveling to St. Louis later this month. Eric Brinkert and I will be at the seminary to participate in the Specific Ministry Pastor Orientation, August 20 – 23. This represents a significant milestone for both of us as well as for the congregation and so I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on where we have been and where we are going as pastor and congregation.
Twelve years and counting! As a congregation we are both smaller and younger. Smaller because God has called to himself some of the faithful and others have moved out of our community. Younger, despite all of us aging a decade plus, by the influx of younger families. Almost half of our current membership have joined Redeemer during my tenure.
We also look a little different in terms of worship with the adoption of the Lutheran Service Book as our regular hymnal in 2010. Prior to that there was some consternation, “Pastor chants?”! Now the whole congregation can chant the psalms and some the great historical canticles of the church are a regular part of our worship. We have also mastered and come to enjoy the newer Old Testament and New Testament Canticles of the Service of Prayer and Preaching.
Physically, our campus has grown with the purchase and demolition of the Fourth Street house. We have also greatly increased accessibility with the addition of a lift allowing wheelchair access to both the sanctuary and the fellowship hall. But perhaps the most significant cause for celebration was the addition of our steeple with its symbols: the cross, the Trinity rings, and the Luther seal. There is no longer any uncertainty in the community about what we are about at the corner of Third and Grove; we are a Christian church, a Lutheran church.
Going to St. Louis also means looking ahead. By mutual commitment we, pastor and people along with Eric, participate in training, in raising up a new undershepherd to serve after me. With my retirement on the calendar in two years, this task becomes both a responsibility and a privilege for me and for Redeemer as we make the transition. While we anticipate Eric serving us only half-time after ordination in two years, his presence will open new possibilities to be of service by allowing us to offer regular pulpit supply to St. John in Seaview Washington two Sunday a month. The fourth Sunday in September will be our first run for the new arrangement with Eric leading worship here while I serve at Seaview. In October, I will be there on the third Sunday and Eric on the fourth. (We anticipate this to be our “regular” arrangement.)
These are exciting and challenging times ahead. Financially, we will be stretching over the next two years to cover the commitment we have made to assist in Eric’s education. But let us not lose sight of the goal or neglect our on-going projects in the community – Homeless Connect, the School District #9 Backpack Program, the Elder’s fund. But especially, let us take every opportunity to speak Christ’s love into the community. Amen.