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Post Sixty-Eight


All pastors are interim pastors. Life itself is an interim experience. The present moment gives way to whatever comes next. Everything is for a time.

Years ago I heard a joke about an old preacher. The aging reverand was asked to recite his favorite passage from the Bible. Without hesitation he replied, "And it came to pass." I think I was supposed to laugh at the old preacher's scriptural ignorance. Now I remember that joke and I marvel at his wisdom and I wish I had learned this lesson earlier in my life. It came to pass.

On July 1 I began my year as the interim pastor for Lexington United Methodist Church. I had asked for the oportunity should the Bishop and the cabinet have need of someone to serve as an interim somewhere. It so happened that the need arose at this congregation located on the beautiful shore of Lake Huron. I knew this church. I went to Haiti with members of this congregation. I admired this church. Saying "yes" was easy. 

Upon arrival I discovered an eager and anxious congregation. I discovered a faith community in love with God, Jesus the Christ, and one another. I found a church excited to serve its community. I sensed a fear within the active members that I might not approve of their way to doing things. I discovered a congregation quite ordinary in its grief over the loss of members and the passing of long respected leaders. I found a church filled with capable, engergetic and interesting people eager for pastoral affirmation.

My wife, Terry, believed in the importance of intentional interim ministry. She worked with others on conference staff to develop a cadre of trained intentional interim pastors. I was not one of those specifically trained for this special work, but the concept and the principles foundational to that work lived in our home. It was common dinner table conversation between us. Taking this interim appointment was a way for me to honor her memory.

Terry taught those serving as interim pastors that their job was largely to be a loving, non-anxious pastoral presence standing in the midst of an anxious congregational system. They were there for a specified time to calm the system, clarify the mission of the church, help them release the tensions of the past and embrace God's holy future.

I find this interim appointment fun and exciting. It has also occured to me that the purpose of the interim pastor differs from that of a regular appointment only in the compact time frame that defines it. All pastors are interim pastors. Life itself is an interim experience. The present moment gives way to whatever comes next. Everything is for a time.


“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.” 
― Bil Keane


Dave Gladstone

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