Those were the words that someone said to me at the good-bye reception for the minister at the church where I will start in September. The minister and I are good friends as well as colleagues; she is delighted that I accepted the Intentional Interim Ministry position and invited me to be part of her her final service by accepting the bread and cup as a symbol of the ministry that will continue after her departure.
I don’t really remember what I said, if anything in response. Probably just smiled and said something like, “Sarah has had wonderful ministry with you.” And that is true, she spent 12 years with the congregation, for most of the children, she is the only minister they have known. She has been there at significant moments: births, deaths, anniversaries and so on. She is creative and has a very pastoral heart. Her new congregation will be richly blessed.
And I trust that her old congregation, my ‘new’ congregation, will be richly blessed in our time together. This is the preliminary goal: To engage the congregation in a process of spiritual discernment for the future of the congregation, assessing the many resources of the congregation, including, but not limited to, mission, connection to the community, people, building, and finances. At the end of the Interim ministry Stairs will have agreed to a path forward and be living into that new reality.
I am excited to get started, it was good to be introduced to the congregation, so that they have a face and presence to put with my name before we undertake ministry together in the fall. The office is being painted in a colour of my choosing, and I am looking forward to getting the boxes out of my home study and into my new office. I am on vacation and have time to imagine and dream and to be curious about what ministry might unfold as we undertake this intentional time together.
One of the gifts of being an Intentional Interim Minister to genuinely be curious about people, practices and programs, so I can be curious about that statement:
- was the person expressing regret that Sarah was leaving?
- were they indicating that as unknown presence, I had to bring my ‘A’ game?
- did they not know what to say, and simply blurted something out?
I don’t know, but in the meantime, these are the only shoes I am going to be filling!