Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year, New Gig

I've been thinking about St. John's a lot this fall and winter. I don't know many first call Associate Pastors who truly love where they are after three and a half years. Most of my friends don't get to do a little bit of everything. Parishioners treat them like interns or junior pastors. Dynamics with senior staff can be complex and very competitive.

I had the unique opportunity to come to St. John's knowing I'd only be here for three to four years. I have a good relationship with my colleague. I like the people I serve and, while we haven't moved mountains or doubled in size, there have been many miracles together. (But more about those miracles another time. There will be a nostalgic post or two before the end of the month!)

Since I have always known that 2012 would likely bring a farewell, I started looking for a second call pretty sure about a few wonderful things:
  1. I really love being a pastor. Both internship and first call have given me a well rounded experience that reminds me everyday: I'm so glad I get to wear all these hats. I'm grateful for the interruptions in each day that turn out to be the whole point. I adore the broken church and the glorious gospel.
  2. I really love being a mom who works full time, too. Maternity leave taught me that there are many different kinds of maternal strength and it specified the ones I am sorely lacking. I'm a better mom because of my job. I'm better at my job because I love being a mom. Now I get to spend the next 30 years figuring out what that messy and beautiful balance looks like.
  3. God is calling me to be a solo pastor in a small parish. I don't know what this means for ministry beyond second call, but I look forward to being a generalist with a brand new role.
The call process is tricky, especially in the Twin Cities. Matt loves his job at the U of M so I shared my paperwork with both synods in the metro area before looking anywhere that would mean a move. Would we move? Sure, but we decided to start looking right here. I'm grateful for the many people in this process who have respect for what Matt does and understand his work to be a call as well.

I won't bore you with the details of my interviewing process - the online profile, the awkward first dates, the nerves, the prayers and the background checks of this matchmaking dance - but I fell in love. All while still loving St. John's.

I learned early in this process that interviewing when you're already happy is quite different than when your work environment is unhealthy or without challenge. I knew right away when I wasn't a good fit for a congregation or two. And when I met the call committee for Zion, I was finally torn and terrified and curious and excited. I start February 1st.

Zion has been in the Lyndale community for ages. They're tiny and scrappy and joyful and they love their neighbors with a fierce, hands-on commitment. They can't afford a full time pastor, so we're going to figure out what 3/4 time looks like. Solo. Hmm...

And yet I won't be all alone. I have great colleagues in the Twin Cities. I believe in the power of collaborative partnership between congregations and organizations. I have heard that the people of Zion are do-ers, spiritual leaders and love their pastors dearly. Matt will be supportive and Jasper will meet another village of faithful ones who will root him on as he learns to walk and believe.

Oh yeah. And there's the Holy Spirit. And that's the greatest comfort of all. I remember this when I get overwhelmed by change and fear and results and the reactions of others that I cannot control. It will not be up to me to save Zion or grow Zion or change Zion...just like it wasn't up to me to move mountains at St. John's. The Holy Spirit has gone ahead of me to 33rd and Pillsbury and will stay after me at 49th and Nicollet.

Duh. Whew. I feel better already.

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