As new graduates from our seminaries receive calls into the Michigan District, our District staff initiates a detailed conversation with the calling congregations. Our desire is for the transition from an educational environment to a ministry environment to be as smooth as possible for the candidate. It really is a huge change for these young men (and their wives). Bringing in a new candidate to an established congregation is also a huge adjustment for its members. Setting the stage for the transition, discussing welcome plans, and managing expectations are all part of the conversation. —Rev. Dr. Rob Kasper, Assistant to the President – Congregation Mission and Ministries, Metro Zone/Ministry Support
The following is a letter from a member at Christ, New Baltimore, addressed to District staff.
Our seminarian, Daniel Harrison (Fort Wayne) was ordained and installed in July, and he and his wife have created a newer level of family unity in the first two weeks. Thank you for your time in the process of prepping us as well as for Dr. Kasper’s work with the congregational survey last fall. God be praised for this new under shepherd.
Please bear with me while I share a success that came out of one of our “to do” items from the Michigan District Zoom meeting. It was suggested that the new pastor and his family be presented with a reverse giving tree of sorts, welcoming them to the areas with gift cards/certificates that will help them with some cost avoidance as well as help them get to know the area businesses. While this was already a thought we had, I was moved to contact a few folks in the community who run small businesses that I got to know when my teen was playing sports at Anchor Bay High School and I was a volunteer booster board member. The first person I contacted is also a family friend as her son and mine played sports and graduated together. She was happy to donate a gift card, but urged me to focus only on New Baltimore businesses, which was especially relevant as the Harrisons indicated they wanted to “live in the community” where they were going to minister.
So, while our members donated gift cards for their favorite stores, services, and eateries in the Chesterfield and New Baltimore area, I worked on soliciting from New Baltimore businesses only, and made a little “Welcome to New Baltimore” board for them to sign. The serendipitous result from this process, as I see it, is a three-pronged contact or advertisement for Christ Lutheran Church.
The first of course, was my contact with these businesses and their owners/managers stating our long-time pastor retired and a new, young, right-out-of-seminary pastor and his new bride were moving in from out of state. “I’m from Christ Lutheran Church right here in New Baltimore and …”
The second contact, as I see it, will be when Pastor Harrison and his wife send a thank you card to those businesses.
Finally, when the food or service is being used, whether Pastor is wearing his collar or not, the business or manager may recognize the card or certificate and realize who it is. I am also considering sending a thank you myself as I met with each of these personally, and have worked with some of them in the past. Also, one franchise owner is a former member of Christ Lutheran, but got caught up in being a fledgling small business owner 10+ years ago. We had a nice talk, and she indicated that with kids soon to be graduating college along with the business now stable, she realizes her blessings and that time has slipped away and “should get back.”
New Baltimore is a relatively small town bordered by the water Anchor Bay to the east, and Selfridge Air National Guard base more or less to the south, so this small community outreach solicitation may have been a prime opportunity. However, I would think that anytime a new pastor is coming to town, the idea of letting area businesses know that a man and his family are moving in, especially those coming from out of state, is a contact—a sowing of the seed, so to speak—and while businesses always look to promote themselves, God can bless the process.
Among the donors to this were a butcher shop, a small women’s hair salon, Great Clips, Hungry Howie’s, a small diner, a family restaurant, Biggby Coffee, McDonald’s, and Dairy Queen. I am excited about what may come out of this. Then again, God only knows when the seeds will bear fruit. But this may be a nice little example for you to share at the next “Welcoming your new pastor” Zoom meeting.
Photo (c) alexsl/iStock