Author Topic: Looming Shortage of Pastors - Worse Than We Realized?  (Read 14804 times)

Dave Benke

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Re: Looming Shortage of Pastors - Worse Than We Realized?
« Reply #135 on: July 01, 2019, 10:08:33 PM »
The adaptation of the pastor's spouse/wife in retirement is an important component.  Back in my early ecclesiastical supervision days, one of the newly ordained pastors was doing well in a suburban congregation with one exception.  The widow of the pastor about three levels back was still in the congregation, and she had convinced herself she was the power in that church due to her former position.  Which would have been OK, except she was ornery.  The young man came to me with this tale - she would not accept his ministry in the congregation because he wore shorts and a T shirt to cut the parsonage lawn.  She stated that Pastor, her husband, had worn the collar and long pants when cutting the lawn or doing chores around the house, and that this was sacrosanct. 

My initial thought was to pay for lawn service out of District funds.  How could this even be a thing? 

But eventually she wore that young pastor out and he took his T shirt and shorts and left.  Her image of the pastor, through her hubby, was the only correct interpretation of the office of the ministry.  He had long gone to glory, but she could not retire him.

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Re: Looming Shortage of Pastors - Worse Than We Realized?
« Reply #136 on: July 01, 2019, 10:50:20 PM »
Donna the loss of a spouse is the most serious change we ever have to make. And I hope I don’t have to make it. Blessings to you as you adjust.
As for retirement, I don’t think it is the work I miss, but I think I miss being the person who does that work. Writing. Covering the news. Preaching. Presiding. Caring for a congregation. I’m not the person who does that anymore.

My best friend these days is my former parish worker who was widowed long before I knew her. We have a comfortable friendship. Just last Sunday I told her that the hardest thing for me right now is the sense that nobody really needs me anymore. My interim is over, my step kids are grown and quite independent, etc. I do think this feeling is born of grief, and will eventually dissolve into some new purpose. I am relearning how to lean into God’s unfailing strength and guidance. Right now, though, I feel like I am in free fall. This thread has been helpful, because I do not feel quite so isolated in some of my feelings.

Saying that I feel unneeded felt almost blasphemous. God will show me the needs.

Donna
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peter_speckhard

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Re: Looming Shortage of Pastors - Worse Than We Realized?
« Reply #137 on: July 01, 2019, 11:13:31 PM »
Donna the loss of a spouse is the most serious change we ever have to make. And I hope I don’t have to make it. Blessings to you as you adjust.
As for retirement, I don’t think it is the work I miss, but I think I miss being the person who does that work. Writing. Covering the news. Preaching. Presiding. Caring for a congregation. I’m not the person who does that anymore.

My best friend these days is my former parish worker who was widowed long before I knew her. We have a comfortable friendship. Just last Sunday I told her that the hardest thing for me right now is the sense that nobody really needs me anymore. My interim is over, my step kids are grown and quite independent, etc. I do think this feeling is born of grief, and will eventually dissolve into some new purpose. I am relearning how to lean into God’s unfailing strength and guidance. Right now, though, I feel like I am in free fall. This thread has been helpful, because I do not feel quite so isolated in some of my feelings.

Saying that I feel unneeded felt almost blasphemous. God will show me the needs.

Donna
Blessings on your transition to a new phase. “They also serve who only stand and wait.”

Charles Austin

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Re: Looming Shortage of Pastors - Worse Than We Realized?
« Reply #138 on: July 01, 2019, 11:23:19 PM »
Donna, the first full year of my full retirement it was sad and painful not to be leading worship during Christmas and Easter season. I know that being in the pews is my proper place now, and that I have no “right“ to be in the pulpit or at the altar.  In New jersey where I was well known, pastors would usually invite me to assist in some way during those seasons. Now I’m 1000 miles from those pastor friends. it is still a little sad and painful not to be there during those times.
I will not be baptizing the children of the two couples I married two years ago. I will not be presiding  at the funerals of the beloved older people I have gotten to know over the years. At my last interim they were wisely and eagerly planning for their future, and I will not get to see how that comes put.
That’s just the way it is. And, As noted just upstream, I must focus on other things.
All of us must do that as we enter full retirement.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2019, 11:38:59 PM by Charles Austin »
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Re: Looming Shortage of Pastors - Worse Than We Realized?
« Reply #139 on: July 02, 2019, 12:14:52 AM »
The adaptation of the pastor's spouse/wife in retirement is an important component.  Back in my early ecclesiastical supervision days, one of the newly ordained pastors was doing well in a suburban congregation with one exception.  The widow of the pastor about three levels back was still in the congregation, and she had convinced herself she was the power in that church due to her former position.  Which would have been OK, except she was ornery.  The young man came to me with this tale - she would not accept his ministry in the congregation because he wore shorts and a T shirt to cut the parsonage lawn.  She stated that Pastor, her husband, had worn the collar and long pants when cutting the lawn or doing chores around the house, and that this was sacrosanct. 

My initial thought was to pay for lawn service out of District funds.  How could this even be a thing? 

But eventually she wore that young pastor out and he took his T shirt and shorts and left.  Her image of the pastor, through her hubby, was the only correct interpretation of the office of the ministry.  He had long gone to glory, but she could not retire


When I interviewed at a congregation, the Call Committee said that the previous pastor took care of the lawn. I told them that he's not going to do it anymore. They'll have to find someone else. They did. (I don't even take care of my own lawn.)
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Harvey_Mozolak

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Re: Looming Shortage of Pastors - Worse Than We Realized?
« Reply #140 on: July 02, 2019, 07:59:41 AM »
It is interesting to compare what I have seen (albeit in a very limited number of cases) in how RC priests in retirement are received compared to how it often works among Lutheran pastors.  Lutherans tend to move away tp southern climes or retirement villages (in Charles case the north for some reason he has not fully explained) and follow the usual directive of most of the national bodies that say, take yourself completely away from your last parish where you retired.  I have seen the love extended to retired RC priests by their former parishes which they live near.  And they seem to keep away from muddling in the next priest's pastoral business.  After our Seminary (or system schooling as in the LCMS) Lutheran clerics do not know or share community; for the married it becomes their wife and kids). There is a challenge staying out of the limelight of a parish that loves and cares for pastors who belong or attend but are not the loci folks.  And by the the way, large multiple staff parishes can probably bring it off better and more easily.  My retired father/Pastor was always being pulled back into ministry or whatever by a parish he belonged to but had never served.  In fact, he had to often say, "Please, no thanks, I don't need the exposure!"

Charles-- the Easter, Christmas, Good Friday and few other days remark is one to be reckoned with....  For a time, I started a list of my losses... the number of Easters and Christmases I was out of the saddle.  Finally gave away my gold chasuble because I realized the only reason I would ever wear it was if someone was suddenly very ill or dropped dead on Holy Saturday.  And while you say that you had been invited to assist in some limited way in those seasons in NJ but now are not because you are not known and there are too many sitting on the bench... that is sad.  When I was in the parish (mine were always small) if a visiting pastor even, without my previous knowledge, appeared on Sunday morning or Saturday night and I got to speak to him or her before worship-- I asked them if they would like to read the Gospel and give the blessing at the end of the Eucharist.   I even wondered if that is why I wanted to serve interims ... to be able to stake out this and other territory I missed, like teaching Bible Classes (again an easier thing to be asked to do in a large parish where multiple classes are offered in the same time frame). 
Harvey S. Mozolak
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Dave Benke

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Re: Looming Shortage of Pastors - Worse Than We Realized?
« Reply #141 on: July 02, 2019, 08:02:18 AM »
The adaptation of the pastor's spouse/wife in retirement is an important component.  Back in my early ecclesiastical supervision days, one of the newly ordained pastors was doing well in a suburban congregation with one exception.  The widow of the pastor about three levels back was still in the congregation, and she had convinced herself she was the power in that church due to her former position.  Which would have been OK, except she was ornery.  The young man came to me with this tale - she would not accept his ministry in the congregation because he wore shorts and a T shirt to cut the parsonage lawn.  She stated that Pastor, her husband, had worn the collar and long pants when cutting the lawn or doing chores around the house, and that this was sacrosanct. 

My initial thought was to pay for lawn service out of District funds.  How could this even be a thing? 

But eventually she wore that young pastor out and he took his T shirt and shorts and left.  Her image of the pastor, through her hubby, was the only correct interpretation of the office of the ministry.  He had long gone to glory, but she could not retire


When I interviewed at a congregation, the Call Committee said that the previous pastor took care of the lawn. I told them that he's not going to do it anymore. They'll have to find someone else. They did. (I don't even take care of my own lawn.)

Same applies to snow shoveling, which divided one congregation in my remembrance over the pastor's refusal to accommodate - it was a corner lot with all kinds of sidewalks.

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Re: Looming Shortage of Pastors - Worse Than We Realized?
« Reply #142 on: July 02, 2019, 08:07:08 AM »
There is one last retirement thing that I want to underline or re-emphasize since I think Richard may have mentioned it elsewhere and Charles has alluded to it.  Before you move think, research and carefully decide where you will be going with the additional concern of where you will worship when not substituting and serving as an interim.  Down south, if you are even moderately liturgical, look out... it will be hard to find hymnody, rubrical stability, pericopal preaching and even a modicum of the traditional chancel prancing that one assumes in the north and east (and probably other parts of this country's geography).  You will and can find friendliness and kindness but attention to what you may be used to ... might make worship more uncomfortable than you can easily or readily bear.  Or at least you may have to accept driving distances that hinder or keep you from choir practices, establishing pew friendships and work days you would like to join. 
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Re: Looming Shortage of Pastors - Worse Than We Realized?
« Reply #143 on: July 02, 2019, 08:42:17 AM »
Don't argue with you, Dave, that snow shoveling or grass mowing is not normally part of the call documents; however, the pastor who has the health to help with snow shoveling and participate in picking up a knocked over waste basket even late on a Sunday morning... is being part of the parish family or grouping and doing the brotherly or sisterly ordinary.  If it is too hard, too dirty, too whatever (not outside of ones ability or strength obviously) for the pastor to do... well, why should he or she expect others to do it.  It can make one appear at best snobbish at worst untouchable.   I have more important things to do at Temple besides clean up a smeared Samaritan type thing. 
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Eileen Smith

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Re: Looming Shortage of Pastors - Worse Than We Realized?
« Reply #144 on: July 02, 2019, 09:18:57 AM »
It is interesting to compare what I have seen (albeit in a very limited number of cases) in how RC priests in retirement are received compared to how it often works among Lutheran pastors.  Lutherans tend to move away tp southern climes or retirement villages (in Charles case the north for some reason he has not fully explained) and follow the usual directive of most of the national bodies that say, take yourself completely away from your last parish where you retired.  I have seen the love extended to retired RC priests by their former parishes which they live near.  And they seem to keep away from muddling in the next priest's pastoral business.  After our Seminary (or system schooling as in the LCMS) Lutheran clerics do not know or share community; for the married it becomes their wife and kids). There is a challenge staying out of the limelight of a parish that loves and cares for pastors who belong or attend but are not the loci folks.  And by the the way, large multiple staff parishes can probably bring it off better and more easily.  My retired father/Pastor was always being pulled back into ministry or whatever by a parish he belonged to but had never served.  In fact, he had to often say, "Please, no thanks, I don't need the exposure!"

Charles-- the Easter, Christmas, Good Friday and few other days remark is one to be reckoned with....  For a time, I started a list of my losses... the number of Easters and Christmases I was out of the saddle.  Finally gave away my gold chasuble because I realized the only reason I would ever wear it was if someone was suddenly very ill or dropped dead on Holy Saturday.  And while you say that you had been invited to assist in some limited way in those seasons in NJ but now are not because you are not known and there are too many sitting on the bench... that is sad.  When I was in the parish (mine were always small) if a visiting pastor even, without my previous knowledge, appeared on Sunday morning or Saturday night and I got to speak to him or her before worship-- I asked them if they would like to read the Gospel and give the blessing at the end of the Eucharist.   I even wondered if that is why I wanted to serve interims ... to be able to stake out this and other territory I missed, like teaching Bible Classes (again an easier thing to be asked to do in a large parish where multiple classes are offered in the same time frame).

Sometimes it may work and sometimes it may not - and when it doesn't there are consequences.  Having a bird's eye view of over 200 congregations when working with a synod I witnessed too many times the retired pastor getting a bit too involved with the congregation -- and members.  I've seen interference with the call process and undermining the new pastor with members - not on a limited basis.  My husband, as mentioned often, is a Roman Catholic.  His pastor just retired last September. He moved one town away.  He doesn't get involved with worship.  He does go to a Bible study that is held in a member's home, he goes to a women's group that meets at Panera, he has maintained friendships - and he is destructive.  I'm sorry to say that parish is his legacy and no one will take that away.  Sometimes outright, often in a more subtle way, he'll question what the new pastor is doing in a critical way.  It's a tough call to keep a retired pastor involved.   In the case of a healthy pastor it's a gift.  But in cases where the pastor is not that healthy, where a congregation becomes a legacy -- well, not quite a gift.

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Re: Looming Shortage of Pastors - Worse Than We Realized?
« Reply #145 on: July 02, 2019, 09:29:12 AM »
I do not believe that a retired pastor should have anything to do with the parish that pastor formerly served. Maybe you go back for a major celebration like the 75th anniversary of the parish. Otherwise, you stay away.
But in the churches I know in New Jersey, those of us who are retired are helpful to the full-time pastors, filling in for them When they are on vacation and doing other things as requested. But we do not go back to the parishes we once served.
The synod also called upon the “older guys” For discussions and workshops with the newly-ordained clergy in the synod.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Now in Minneapolis. One must always ponder both the value and the dangers of poking the bear. Aroused and stimulated, the bear usually shows its true self. Or it might leap to an extreme version of itself. You never know with bears.

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Re: Looming Shortage of Pastors - Worse Than We Realized?
« Reply #146 on: July 02, 2019, 09:37:30 AM »
The former senior pastor of my congregation remains on as a member by my invitation. He supply preaches a lot at other congregation, and when he attends St. Paul's it is nearly always the Saturday evening service. Periodically fills in for us in a pinch. It works well just so long as everyone is on the same page. He doesn't meddle at all.


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Re: Looming Shortage of Pastors - Worse Than We Realized?
« Reply #147 on: July 02, 2019, 10:00:12 AM »
one does, no matter what parish one attends, learn to ignore, brush off with a bit of ignorance or dullness, any inquiry or statement that seeks to undermine or probe the ministry of the pastor loci... that can be an easy thing to do when it is very obvious... like what do you think of Pastor X not coming to all the Council meetings?  But it can be more subtle:  What were you guys/gals taught at Seminary about this or that (especially difficult to see the probing when you are not aware of how Pastor X does or does not do this or that and that there is some perceived problem by someone)?
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Re: Looming Shortage of Pastors - Worse Than We Realized?
« Reply #148 on: July 02, 2019, 10:10:40 AM »
The Central Illinois District of the LCMS has guidelines for assisting pastors in making the
transition into retirement.

1. The retiring pastor should resist the temptation to remain in the congregation after his
retirement.  The retiring pastor should leave the congregation.

2. A retiring pastor cannot be permitted to position himself as the "power behind the
throne."   This is not fair to the new pastor

3. Weddings, funerals, baptisms, counseling should be conducted by the new pastor.
The retiring pastor should not tell his former parishioners he would gladly perform
such services if the new pastor agrees.  This is manipulative and puts the new pastor
in an untenable position.

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Re: Looming Shortage of Pastors - Worse Than We Realized?
« Reply #149 on: July 02, 2019, 10:15:47 AM »
In most cases it is probably healthy and best for a retired pastor to leave the parish he served and relocate.  When I considered my present call back in 2000 and heard that the retiring pastor of 30 years planned to stay there I was nervous.  I understood that he raised his family there and these were his friends.  To his credit, however, he knew to let go.  He had served as VP of the district and as a Circuit Counselor and I think he knew well enough of how it might not work out.  He was friends with the pastor to the east in our circuit and he assured me that if things did not work out between the two of us he would take the initiative and go to that perish. 

It is now about 18 1/2 years later; he is in his early 80s, and still helps out occasionally. He is more physically limited after all these years so he can't do as much as before.  But he was an immense help in the vacancies while I was circuit visitor/counselor and I am very thankful for his service during those years.  We live in a very rural and lightly populated area so having some retired men to fill in is so critical.

His wife remains active with the Ladies Aid, but my wife is the chief musician and they have very different gifts and interests and she appreciates my wife's contributions.  More than once she has complimented her and what she does with the children. 

My predecessor and I are different in style - he being a 60s graduate of Springfield and I a late-80s graduate of Fort Wayne. He spent a lot of years in TLH before the "liturgical renewal" hit many parishes and I was trained after it was established.  I came from a large multi-staff parish and school with a rich liturgical history to the one I am at that is certainly liturgical and hymnal-based, but more subdued and much smaller.  The DP when I came was concerned, I think, that I would try to impose the practices of my last large parish on this country one and expressed that concern to my predecessor.  To his credit, however, he sang my praises and won the DP over to the point he eventually appointed me the chaplain of his last convention.  Much depends on how the retired man sees his successor.  If he can appreciate his gifts and accept his differences it might work well.  Not every retired pastor can do this, and I know that my situation is a huge exception to the general rule.  I would not suggest this for most. When I retire, which may be from this parish as I am now in my very late 50s, my wife and I do not plan to remain.  I have purchased a lot in the cemetery for our earthly remains when that moment comes, but I will relocate my living remains some distance away.  Right now I am looking at a city about an hour's distance where I grew up. 

While my predecessor and I are different, there is enough common between us to make for a good relationship.  As I noted he was a circuit counselor and VP in the district.  I continued that tradition by serving 12 years as a circuit counselor/visitor and now as the district secretary.  I have consulted with him in the past and sought his input and help.  But whereas I went back to school and earned another graduate degree and eventually was given the opportunity to teach, and where I am active in the community through the fire departments, he was content to not continue his education formally and was not as involved in the community.  But again, a lot depends on the man, and he has always respected me for what I do and supported me, and I, in turn, give him the respect he deserves. 

To the credit of the parish, as well, they never played the game with me of "well, Pastor So-and-so did it that way...."  They respect my predecessor, but quickly looked to me for pastoral leadership and he accepted that.  I am grateful for that support and it made the difference in my long tenure when I was under a lot of pressure and attack from a couple that could not accept my leadership and gave me a lot of grief. 

It can work, but, again, I suspect my arrangement is unique.  I do not plan to replicate it.
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI