So, what is next for Cross Lutheran now that Pastor John is serving as our Bridge Pastor? What is a Bridge Pastor anyway?
Let’s begin with the transition process. Calling a new pastor to a congregation is done in a very purposeful and prayer filled manner. There are many steps to complete before the arrival of the next pastor.
When there is a pastoral vacancy the congregation goes through a period of self- examination and data collections. Cross will be us the CAT survey as a means of collecting data. CAT is the acronym for Congregational Assessment Tool. This is an awesome opportunity for the congregation to collect undisputed data about the present make up of the congregation and to help Cross determine what kind of pastor would be the best fit for this call.
Once the data from the survey is presented, in addition to opinions and desires expressed through conversations and meetings, the Ministry Assessment Team (MET) will compile a profile of the congregations which is reviewed by the entire congregation and then submitted to the ELCA. It is our introduction to all ELCA pastors and pastors of the few other denominations with whom we share full communion. This profile is called the Ministry Site Profile (MSP.)
When the MSP is completed, the Call Committee picks up the reigns. They will work with the local synod office in receiving names of candidates to interview.
My goal is to have this congregation ready to interview this spring. Our CAT survey will begin in November and be presented back to us in January. From that point, I would like to have the MSP completed and reviewed in February or early March. Once the Call Committee is orientated by Pastor Randy Olson on synod staff, they can begin to receive names of candidates to interview. Typically, the process takes 4-6 weeks, and once a congregational vote happens; the next pastor will give thirty days’ notice to the congregation that they are currently serving.
If all goes to perfect plan and timing you should at least know the name of your next pastor in June.
I am a Bridge Pastor serving in the capacity of an interim pastor. My duties and ministry are to prepare Cross Lutheran for her future. Bridge pastors are used when a congregation is healthy and the former pastor’s tenure was not too long. Bridge pastors can also be invited to remain and interview in the congregation whereas interims can no longer do so. So, to answer the question that some have asked; yes, it is a possibility that I could be here for the long hall if both parties agree. Should it come to that point, the call committee would still interview me. However, other names would be withheld from them until the point that either one of the parties would say no. There are no guarantees, so for now let us go on in ministry together and have fun doing so.