October 27, 2015
Participants in the Spring 2015 Feasibility Study expressed concern about the call process in the Southeastern Minnesota Synod. In response, the Executive Committee of the Synod Council gave approval to a comprehensive review of the call process. Pastor Peter Soli of Dialog Works conducted a review of the process through interviews and surveys with pastors, congregational leaders, and synod staff who had participated in the call process in the last few years. Pastor Soli’s Comprehensive Report and his Summary of Findings (available below) identified both areas of satisfaction and opportunities for improvement in the call process. He also identified four significant polarities that need to be acknowledged and a list of problems to be solved.
In response to the report a task force was formed comprised of pastors, lay leaders, Assistant to the Bishop Pastor Peter Reuss and Bishop Steven Delzer. The team was asked to review this report and make recommendations. These recommendations are available below in the Vitalizing Call Process Task Force Final Summary. The following quote from their report demonstrates the crucial role that the call process plays in the life of a congregation: “The calling of a new pastor to share in the faith and life of a congregation is a sacred time within a congregation. It can be filled with hope, tension, apprehension, and uncertainty. The synod (Office of the Bishop) is committed to walking along side congregations through this process and providing Spirit filled guidance and support.”
One recommendation from the Task Force that is already being implemented under the direction of Bishop Delzer is the deeper involvement of interim pastors in guiding the call process in the congregations where they are serving. They will be more fully trained in the call process and will work to maintain regular communication between the Call Committee, the congregation, and the staff in the Office of the Bishop.
Another recommendation from the Task Force is developing a call process that is flexible enough to be customized to the needs of each congregation. Interim Assistant to the Bishop Pastor Susan Miller and Call Process Administrator Cheryse Brenno-Sloan are already at work revising and simplifying the Call Process Manual to make that information more accessible. Pastor Miller, together with Bishop Delzer and other members of the staff in the Office of the Bishop, will also meet with congregations and Call Committees for dialog about their Ministry Site Profile (MSP) to better understand each congregations current situation and leadership needs.
Together we will continue to move toward implementing those recommendations that will make our call process as effective and helpful as possible because, “The calling of a new pastor to share in the faith and life of a congregation is a sacred time within a congregation. It can be filled with hope, tension, apprehension, and uncertainty. The synod (Office of the Bishop) is committed to walking along side congregations through this process and providing Spirit filled guidance and support.”