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Interim Ministry: What is it?
By Rev. Emily Carson
Interim ministry is an important and special time in the life of a congregation. Interim ministry refers to the months between the end of one rostered minister’s call and the beginning of the next leader’s call. During this time, the congregation and its call committee enter into a period of discernment. They seek guidance from the Holy Spirit about the kind of ministry to which they are called as a family of faith.
The Office of the Bishop partners with congregations throughout rostered minister transitions from beginning to end. Synod staff members begin by accompanying a congregation through the process of interviewing and selecting an interim leader. Interims have special training to enter into congregations in transition.
Rev. Susan Miller serves as an Assistant to the Bishop for the Southeastern Minnesota Synod. She works closely with congregational call processes and the synod’s interim rostered minsters. Miller shares, “Interim ministry is a specialized ministry. Most of our interims are trained in helping congregations to prepare themselves for a new chapter in their ministry…Interims are able to enter into situations quickly. They are called to love people and to provide space for people to consider their future.”
The length of an interim varies by context. In general, interim minisry lasts less than a year. This is holy time.
One of the ways the synod supports its interim leaders and provides space for their continued leadership development is through the monthly interim gathering. Interim rostered ministers meet the third Thursday of every month at the synod office (Assisi Heights, 1001 14th St. NW, Rochester, MN) from 10:00AM-12:00PM. Miller says, “Monthly interim gatherings are a way that the Office of the Bishop gains insight into what is happening in the lives of congregations in transition.” These monthly meetings are also a time for interim leaders to discuss ideas, challenges, and concerns. Rev. Dr. Paul Meierding serves as the groups convener. He reflects, “Our monthly meetings of interim pastors give us the opportunity to continue to learn and grow. It is especially rewarding to see the excitement of interim pastors as they learn from each other how to deal with challenging situations in their parish settings. I enjoy helping to choose topics to discuss in our monthly meetings that will help interim pastors become more skilled in this specialized ministry.”
Rev. Marie Anderson is a trained interim who serves in the Southeastern Minnesota Synod. In reflecting about what she finds most energizing about interim work, Anderson shares, “An interim pastor is invited into the life of a congregation at a time when they are in the midst of so many different emotions and changes…it is an honor to travel through the time of transition with congregations and help them discern God’s plan for their future mission and ministry.”
Rev. Peter Soli also serves as a trained interim in the synod. He finds the experiencing enriching. “It is valuable and affirming for me to accompany and help guide [congregations] as they navigate through difficulties. I consider interim ministry to be a healing ministry where health, hope, and vitality to a congregation are restored and made new.”
Bishop Steven Delzer served as an interim pastor at earlier points in his years of ministry. He is very grateful for the role of interim rostered ministers in our synod. He says, “I deeply appreciate the specialized gifts and skills that interim pastors bring to accompanying congregations through times of transition, reminding them of God’s promise, “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Are you interested in becoming a trained intentional interim? Does your congregation need interim support? Please contact Rev. Susan Miller at 507-280-9457 or firstname.lastname@example.org.