It was almost ten years ago that St. Paul Lutheran Church in Hamburg, MI made its last Divine Call in a long series of Divine Calls that sought to bring a faithful man of the Gospel to serve as her Pastor. Now, as she seeks to begin this process again, I feel the uncertainty in the air. These are indeed uncertain times for us, but I want to write to you today to tell you that we are equipped for the road ahead and that our God will take care of us. I hope this message will bring you peace as you ponder our future.
Before we consider the road further, we should pray. There is no need to fear for the future; our God will provide for us. We should ask him to do so. Pray that the Lord will grant us a pastor who is faithful to the Word. Pray also that in the interim time we will be sustained by faithful pastors. Pray for our congregation, that we may continue to reflect the nature of the Body of Christ, that we stand proclaiming the mercy of God, the forgiveness of sins by Word and Sacraments in the name of Christ, and that we continue to strive to connect people to Jesus. Finally, pray for all of us who carry the burden of administration and decision making at St. Paul, that we may serve the church with wisdom, prudence, and joy.
I want you to know what is coming, so that you may be prepared. Regarding the vacancy, we will have a meeting of the voters on May 20 after the 11 AM service. The purpose of this meeting is to make decisions regarding the nature of the pastoral support we require during our vacancy. The church council will have a recommendation to make, and the voters will get to make the ultimate decisions. Regarding the call process itself, I will briefly summarize here the remarks I made on April 8. The council is charged with forming a small call committee representing a cross-section of the congregation. This committee will be chaired by Stan Bucrek. During this time, we will conduct a needs assessment to be sure we are clear on those needs before we call a new pastor. A nominations list will be compiled based on recommendations from the voters as well as a list from the Michigan District office. These candidates will be vetted by the call committee, and preliminary recommendations will be made. These recommendations will be presented to an assembly of the voters, where votes will take place until by process of elimination one candidate receives a 2/3 majority. That candidate will receive a call from our congregation.
I cannot emphasize enough how vital the voters of the congregation are in this process. Please participate in the process as much as you are able. It is the voters as a whole that calls our next Pastor.
You can expect updates throughout this process in the newsletter, e-news, Facebook group, bulletin, and Sunday morning announcements.
I’d like to leave you with a plea for good order in our congregation. God blesses us with a congregation that is healthy and thriving in many ways. The times ahead may try this. Vacancies are tough times no matter what. Let’s keep this in mind, and deal with one another with patience for the sake of our Lord. All Christian relationships run through Jesus, and when we look at one another, it is Jesus that we see. May God not let us forget this. When we have conflict or contention with one another, let us go together to the altar of God with joy, for he grants his forgiveness to every one of us, and he grants us the ability to forgive one another in His name, even though we lack the strength to do so on our own.
May God continue to bless his people in Hamburg, MI, and to make them a blessing to others.
Christopher Mowers, Church Council President