I can surely testify that God works in mysterious ways. Back in late August/early September when I learned that I may be asked to become the Bridge Transitional minister at Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Greenville, SC, my thoughts were, “Nope. I don’t want the responsibility.” As time went on while various options were being discussed by the Personnel Committee, I was asked to consider agreeing to be at the church for four months, October-January while a search committee looked for a full-time interim. I thought, “Well, I like to preach during Advent. With the pandemic, I will not be traveling to be with family. I’ll do it.”
I began to be impressed with the Session’s involvement and the willingness of various members to be active in the life of Eastminster. The staff made worship a real pleasure.
During these months, God began tugging at me to begin those kinds of things I am good at regarding organizational development. I began some processes knowing the interim could use what we’d already done whenever he/she arrived. I waited along with the rest of the congregation to find out how the search was going. I knew the committee was having significant and thoughtful conversations about next steps.
Then I was asked to stay another month through February. The interim search did not become as successful as originally hoped. So now, I will be the Transitional (Interim) Minister through the end of 2021. During this time, the congregation will begin a search for a full-time installed pastor.
I truly believe that God has been preparing me for this position my entire ministry. I had often thought that I might be an interim at this point in my life, but nothing seemed to be moving in that direction. Nevertheless, I had already trained as an interim; I had served on the Presbytery’s Committee on Ministry which oversees ministerial relations; I was on the Transitional Think Tank of the presbytery where I was privy to exciting conversations about the future of the Presbytery and our congregations. I had also been studying and teaching materials for several years that feed into my sermons now and in the future.
Some years ago, I was in a place of questioning. I screamed at God asking what was I supposed to be doing? The message I “heard” was “When the time is right, I will open the door for you.”
I retorted, “But what am I supposed to be doing in the meantime?”
I “heard” this wisdom: “Build your skills and learn your lessons.”
As I look back at how I have ended up in this wonderful place with amazing people and challenging opportunities, I realize that God has indeed opened the door and I’ve spent years building my skills and learning my lessons. I am convinced that I still have lessons to learn and look forward to learning them with this particular congregation.
My tasks as an interim/transitional minister include helping raise up new leadership, strengthening ties and understanding of the Presbyterian Church USA, and helping the congregation move from what was to what shall be. We will look at what is essential already to Eastminster and where opportunities will emerge. The pandemic has made these tasks even more important, yet different in how they will be executed. I see my role as teacher, spiritual leader, and catalyst. The congregation and I will grow as we explore where and how God is leading us as individuals and Eastminster as a congregation. Things will change and we will discover that we and this church are even more who God sees us to be.
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