Interim Pastor’s Connection supports those serving churches in transition

The newest ministerial affinity group in the Northwest Conference is the Interim Pastor’s Connection. The Covenant, along with many other denominations, is experiencing unprecedented numbers of pastoral transitions. In the NWC we are seeing more than double the number of pastoral transitions than have been typical in years past.

When such transitions occur, the Conference staff becomes involved in walking with both churches and pastors. Such times are filled with a mixture of emotions—grieving what is being lost and also anticipating what is to come.

Such liminal moments are unsettling and at times vulnerable. In most cases, before we ever begin to help guide the process of finding the next pastor, we are called on to help fill an immediate need for what we have traditionally called an “interim pastor.”

Such pastors can be full-time or part-time, and their roles can be quite different based on the unique church setting and place. We currently have 10 pastors actively serving in interim roles in our Conference. They are a very diverse group of pastors, each with unique skills and stories.

It might surprise you to know that only three of those 10 are pastors who are serving in retirement. Some are serving as interim pastor but have other jobs as well. Others are serving churches in transition while they themselves are in transition from one assignment to the next. Some are very experienced at the role of interim, having served in many churches in that role, and others are serving in that role for the first time—and even serving for the first time as a lead or solo pastor.

Because of the large number and diversity of experiences in the role, we have started an Interim Pastor’s Connection. We meet monthly at the Conference office for the purpose of providing support, encouragement and connection.

At the most recent Midwinter Conference, the Covenant piloted a training program for “Transitional Pastors,” the newer term being used to describe the role. This training identifies three broad categories that transitional pastors operate in:

  • Those called to maintain
  • Those called to maintain and do some remodeling of systems and ministries
  • Those called to maintain, remodel and to guide in critical moment discussions about the future

We are blessed to have such a deep pool of possible servants for these key roles.