I have thrown my name in to be considered for two interim positions in nearby towns. I preached at Church "A" this past Sunday and will preach at Church "B" this coming Sunday. I know that I wrote a couple of days ago that I they would both be good options, but now I'm thinking that I wrote that because I was just so glad that there were any immediate possibilities at all. Getting dumped on your ass suddenly makes you feel that way, I've found.
Church A is a nice small church about 35 miles away from my home. I've preached there twice and have had good experiences both times. In fact, I first submitted my PIF to be considered for the interim this past summer when I decided I really needed to be employed full-time. I was told then that they were going to skip the interim process all together and use pulpit supply until they call their next pastor. I thought, "Yeah, right!," but I didn't sweat it because I accepted the hospice job.
I got a phone call yesterday from an elder of Church A who identified himself as chairperson of the interim search committee. (I knew COM wouldn't go for their no interim idea!) He said that they really like me, but they don't want me to be their interim pastor. They want me to be their called pastor and want to "back burner" me until that time. I am not joking. He really said this.
After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I told him that I was flattered by their confidence in me and that I had been praying about whether or not to submit my PIF when the time came (which was true- now not so much.) However, my situation had changed and I found myself in need of employment now. He said that they were considering a couple of other pastors, but that they would interview me in 2 weeks. Geez.
Among the challenges that Church A would present is the fact that their recently retired pastor continues to be present each Sunday, singing in the choir, and has informed COM that she has no intention of not doing so indefinitely. I am all for retired pastors being invited back to serve as pastor emeritus, but it seems to me that she is not giving the congregation a chance to look ahead and will cause problems for the next called pastor.
However, this congregation is healthy in many other ways and the people are delightful. Someone just needs to be very forthright with this pastor.
Church B is also about 35 miles away in another direction. Their pastor was so fed up with them and ready to move on that he resigned a month before it was even certain that he had been extended his next call. (He did. Whew!) I have never been to this church, but I know a few members who are active in Presbytery. They have been described to me as being quite negative and ready to blame the pastor for everything. Granted, most of this information was given to me by their former pastor and there are two sides to every story.
The challenge in this situation will be to help them through any anger they are experiencing and help them to look forward. After service this Sunday, I will be interviewed by the interim search committee of Church B. Chances are, I will know something from them before I am even interviewed by Church A.
In the midst of all of this, I am continuing to think about a called position. I was contacted today by a PNC who would like to do a phone interview on Friday. I think I could be interested in this position. Is it okay to accept an interim (if I'm even offered the job) when I'm actively looking for a called position?