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          "A Word of Good-bye

Interim Pastor Tim Swanson


As I contemplate my last Pastoral Letter with you, I reflect on my usual word of Good-bye in the best of its meaning. The word or phrase comes from "God be with ye" or God be with you. This is my hope for you as a congregation as you move forward in the next chapter of your life. This letter serves as my last congregational report to you as well.


Whenever I enter into a new calling whether that be a full time or interim pastoral experience, I hope that somehow the spirit of Christ is unleashed within that particular setting. I am thankful that my time with you over these one and a half years has witnessed a renewed spirit of God among you. There is a number of reasons for this to happen but the most is that God has something in mind; it is understood by most and you move forward with and in it.


I have a saying that a pastor's work is only as good as the leadership within a congregation. So, it begins with a leadership in concert with a pastor for good things to happen. I am, therefore grateful for the leadership among the two councils with whom I have had the pleasure to work together. I spent those months using the council sessions to move you toward understanding what a congregation in mission looks like as opposed to one just attentive to maintaining the status quo. The former is energetic moving in an isometric circle with leadership in the center and active teams and groups in motion around this, where leadership serves a supportive and coordinating role; as opposed to the latter where leadership sits atop a pyramid shape controlling what happens below with committees and other organizations. The council has worked well with me in trying to understand this role.


Two hopes of mine that would model this approach include a Mission Team and a Children Ministry Team. The former, I did not have the time to implement the way it needed to be done but its main structure and purpose was to consist of three persons to meet and review ministries old and new and set goals to end and to begin new groups and teams that would engage persons in a creative process that addresses needs now and in the future (what works and what does not - where is the best place to give emphasis with the present resources etc.)


The second hope was to meet with a new team called the Children Ministry Team. Here I was able to gather a group of three for this purpose (Deb Baldwin, Karen Burrell and Jenny Napier). They now meet spontaneously on their own and work together to advance this ministry. The results have been seen in the past several months. Again, a pastor is only as good as the leadership at every level.


This kind of ministry could be expanded into other teams or groups presented to the Ministry Team to address needs such as encouraging a Home base children's ministry by such means as learning opportunities for parents to pray and teach their children in the home; parent support groups; intergenerational opportunities both within and outside the community at First Lutheran; other worship opportunities for parents and others who cannot attend regularly on Sunday mornings, etc.


At the December council session, I handed out some material from my past experience to identify what this would look like if placed with a new structure of operation; identify the areas of ministries and place under each the teams and groups that help carry out the ministry of that area. Ultimately, when you settle on this, it is placed in the Continuing Resolutions section of the congregation constitution which can be changed at will by the council as ministries come and go.


I want to acknowledge and thank the music leaders at First, Lisa Szwec and Jim Will, as well as the choir members for their talent and conviction in lifting up the worship life along with assistant ministers, readers and crucifers during the time I have been here. It made my work among you that much easier and better to do. (The Anthem Team is an example of how the structure listed above would fit into it. Those who prepare the sanctuary for worship is another.)


For those who attended my Study Group on Thursdays, I am thankful for your participation and I hope you gained from it as much as I did in preparing for it. This past year we have given emphasis to study "Revelation" followed by a long series on "Good and Evil' and I am finishing up with a short session schedule on the Gospels.

I want to thank the support for my work among you especially the support staff of Evie Ennis who did the reprinting and copying for all of the above to take place, as well as, providing me any information that would help me be more effective in what a needed to do here.


I want to thank God for the spirit within all of you as we move for now into different paths but following the same Lord. I will miss you and especially all the young children and the life and spirit they have added to your community this past year. May the spirit of Christ dwell with you now and evermore.


So I simply reiterate where I began with

Good-bye, i.e., "God be with you" till we meet again.

Pastor Tim









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