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?
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
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Most interims involve signing a contract for a certain length of time and to perform the basic tasks of interim ministry, so looking for a settled call right from the beginning, with the intention of leaving, would not be a great thing.
With Church A, they really don't understand the search and call process, do they?
As far as Church B goes, I got the same tune from the pastor I am following, and I discovered it was not entirely true. So take that with a grain of salt, and see how you feel when you meet the people. My 2 cents worth!
I think you might be better off pursuing stated supply gigs if you really want to stay in the pool for called positions.
I'm so sorry you are going through this.
Iris, prayers & more prayers.
I find myself getting angry with the pastor of church A who will not move on and let the Holy Spirit do its thing - and the COM if they let it happen. My predecessor has been gone four years, and I still hear "Pastor Predecessor did..." I can't imagine what it would be like to have the predecessor still involved in the church.
But it's good that the COM is making them get an interim. The church I serve was allowed to do the pulpit supply thing, and I think my transition here would have been faster and smoother had there been an interim. I kinda think like these past two years have been the interim, and now we are getting rolling.
As far as guidance and suggestions, I'll pass along some wisdom that my pastor gave me when I was discerning between two calls. He said, "there is no truly wrong decision. God will use you where ever you are." It helped take the pressure off of me making the perfect decision and reminded me that ultimately God is in control!
It's hard working with churches in which boundaries are out of whack. I agree with Songbird, though... if you want to stay in the pool for called positions, I wouldn't enter into an interim contract of longer than 6 months, and be very clear about your intention up front.
Prayers for you, friend!
Praying for your discernment and guidance and sense of peace. Keep us posted!
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