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Tradition and Transition

Certainly we all enjoyed a tremendous send-off for Don Martin two weeks ago.  It was wonderful to see so many people at both weekend events, and I have no doubt Don felt our love in all that transpired. As we read in the Farewell Liturgy on June 27, Don’s retirement is but another example of the reality that things change as we move through life – both as individuals and as a congregation.  With every change, there is the opportunity to do what Pastor Tina suggested in her sermon on July 4: look backward and forward. Looking forward is about acknowledging the changes that come. Looking backward is about determining what we want to carry with us as we move into a changing future.

In that spirit, I want to share with you an update on our ministerial staff configuration. Don’s retirement clearly creates a void that needs to be addressed. Moreover, as we continue to think strategically about the future, other opportunities are emerging. So I would like to announce that Pastor Tina’s portfolio will change somewhat. She will be moving from a primary focus on children and Christian Education to ministries that involve older adults.  These will include leading our visitation programs, pastoral care ministries, bereavement, and the 3D ministry (formerly Elderberries). This will entail some corresponding change in committee involvement as well. She will continue to work with women’s groups. This move creates a temporary void in the area of staff-led children’s ministries. We clearly want to make this area of church programming a priority and envision bringing someone on staff to help provide leadership in the future. But I believe it is important not to rush into hiring someone for the sake of filling a position, so there may be a period where we are going to ask all of you to help us meet the challenges and opportunities this transition presents.

I believe these transitions are going to be most beneficial to the church in the long run and am extremely grateful to Pastor Tina for accepting this opportunity and being willing to embrace this transition. While no one we love is replaceable – Don Martin included – Pastor Tina brings gifts and talents of her own that can help our ministry to older adults not only be maintained but grow in the future.

In the meantime, we don’t want our children, their families, and the programming designed for them to feel abandoned. That is why Pastor Tina will be gradually “phasing from” ministry to children and “phasing to” ministry to older adults. This is new territory for all of us, and I don’t intend for anything to be unnecessarily sudden. The first thing for Pastor Tina and I to do together is to meet with the Christian Education committee and ensure that the Fall      programming that coincides with the start of a new school year takes place as planned. Following this, Pastor Tina will begin focusing on getting to know the older adults and planning programming for them. For my part, I will also be offering whatever presence and involvement I can to ensure that there is as much seamlessness to these transitions as possible. 

As I’ve said in conversations with Pastor Tina, she and I – as ordained ministers – are called to serve the whole church. This means sometimes our energies and attention are focused in one area, while for another time they are focused in other directions. But our hearts forever seek to hold all “the flock” in deep care and concern. I am confident that these moves can be a great blessing to Central in the unfolding future, and that Pastor Tina and I can provide the necessary leadership to make that happen.

No matter what transitions our congregation undergoes – whether staff-related or otherwise – I hope that what we never lose is your feeling that the ministers of this congregation love you, care for you, and are available to you. When I listen to the stories about the leadership provided by the great ministers of   Central’s past, these are the characteristics I hear those “saints” displayed for you. What I hope to convey to all our staff members – ministerial and otherwise – is this same culture of caring.

If you have any questions about any part of this, please don’t hesitate to reach out.  And I thank you for your continued support of Central and your confidence in our congregation.        

-Blessings, Michael

Posted by Michael Karunas with