At our January Church Council meeting, just a few days before I left for surgery, my Letter of Call was discussed. In that discussion it was shared that perhaps members were not aware of the central details of my Letter of Call issued in August of 2018.
During that call process, FELC Leadership recognized that funding in our congregation was a point of concern. The call that they choose to extend, in conversation with Bishop Maas, Bishop of the Nebraska Synod of the ELCA, is a “part time” call. The nature of the call is stated at 85%. A normal call issued to a pastor in this synod is generally a six-day work week, with 50-55 hours per week. At that time the church council and I were aware that I would work more hours.
After a time of reflection and conversation with mentors and family, I have come to realize that the work schedule that I have maintained from October 2018 to January of 2019 is no longer viable. That six-day week, often in excess of sixty hours, is not helpful in this ministry. There are many reasons.
The most important is the precedent that this sets for future pastors. As many of you know, my dream for First Lutheran is to prepare the way for your next full-time pastor. My work hours create an unfair expectation for pastors or staff members who follow me in ministry.
I am hopeful that the giving of 2019 will continue to grow here at First Lutheran. In 2019, we met our budget, with giving to spare, for the first time in many years. Such growth will lead our congregation to move forward in funding future pastors in a full-time call. As we move forward into 2021 budgeting, this issue can be an important point of ministry planning.
It is important for you to know that in my responsibility to this call, I will now take Monday and Tuesday off. Pastoral care needs will be met by me from Wednesday through Sunday. Knowing the great volunteer spirit that exists here at First and was seen during my medical leave, I am confident our ministry will continue to excel. I have trained scores of people to serve in matters of pastoral care in previous congregations. We could develop a training cycle to equip our members in this ministry.
If you have any questions, please contact me or if would like to see my Letter of Call, it is posted on our FELC web page.http://firstevlutheran-np.com There are also copies in the church office.