You may remember a previous post in which I compared my latent feelings about supply preaching to a one-night stand. Though I am still ready for a full-time commitment, I have accepted a part-time position as the interim pastor of a local church. This is a church I have worked with before when their pastor was on sabbatical.
When I interviewed with the interim search committee (all familiar faces, by the way--I even remembered their names!), I explained these feelings as part of an answer to the question, "How have you changed in the last three years [since you were here last]?" The chair of the committee asked, "But this is still a temporary position. How would you describe this relationship, if we were to call you as the interim minister?" And another committee member responded, with all due respect, "A love affair?"
Yes, a love affair. With a church. With God. What a wonderful way to heal, to grow, for both of us to move forward. Now, don't get me wrong--I don't have on my rose-colored glasses. I know things will be rocky at times, stressful--I'll get some grief hurled my way. Really I'll be more like a midwife attending the birth of something new and wonderful. But this church will also midwife me into a new chapter as well, without their even knowing it.
The sad part of this, though, is that I will be away from my home church whom I dearly love. In fact, I fell in love with my home church, which is what has made it wonderful and difficult when I had to return after serving in another church. It was wonderful to be home, but it was difficult to be in love and yet not be their pastor, to be in relationship but only so far. This coming Sunday will be my last for quite a while. This interim position could last as long as two years. My emotions have been running in all directions: grief, joy, fear, excitement, doubt, hope, you name it.
I have so much to do: resign from the board of Trustees in my church and from volunteering in the thrift shop and the Jr. Pilgrim Fellowship, the upcoming tag sale, find people to fill in for me in a few places. Visit the matriarch of our church who holds a special place in my heart (she calls me "Trouble"). I have to sign my contract, get keys, meet with the Pastor and Personnel Relations committee, meet with the moderator and the chair of Deacons. Oh and write a sermon every week. I haven't worked like this in twelve years. Plus take a three-day course of interim ministry training in PA, which is the only amount of time I can be away, since I am still the primary caregiver for my girls.
In fact, they hired me even though I didn't have the training; it was their only concern. So I asked the chairperson, didn't they interview other candidates with interim training? Yes, they did. So why did they hire me, even though I am not trained in interim ministry? She said it was because of the answers I gave in the interview that were not like the answers of the other candidates. They prayed about it, struggled with it, but in the end they felt that I would be best for them. And I am humbled.
So dear blogfriends, pray for me. Pray for this church. Hold us in the light. And fasten your seatbelts...it's going to be a wild ride.