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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ask the Matriarch - The Queue Was Empty

So...your editor forgot to announce that we had no questions in the this week, we have some questions for all of you...

Mompriest, blogging at Seeking Authentic Voice has a good question:

It would be a good idea to talk about the program year ahead. Share with us what your congregation has scheduled for the program year in terms of adult, youth, and children’s formation. Do you have a program in place for year-long stewardship and if so, how do you teach and get folks to live it? Do you offer special programs for Advent and Lent and if so what’s on the schedule for this year? Let’s share our ideas and resources.

Jennifer, who blogs at An Orientation of Heart, has lots of great ideas cooking at her place:

This is just about the busiest time of the year for our congregation, administratively. We’re putting the finishing touches on the kick-off to a new program year, complete with educational opportunities for children, youth and adults (Sunday morning and Sunday evening for teachers and other leaders), a great program that we’ve adapted from Faith Inkubators called Faith Stepping Stones, which ties life landmarks in the lives of children and youth and their families with spiritual practices, and all of the usual groups that you’d expect to find in a mainline church (women’s organization, youth groups, etc.)

We do some fun stuff with year-round stewardship, dividing the year into quarters and thinking about time and talents in the first quarter of the calendar year (Jan.-March), our commitment to the environment in the second quarter, a focus on sabbath in the third quarter, and an emphasis on our financial stewardship in the fourth quarter. This is our second full year of thinking together this way. We’ve got miles to go…

I’m out of time and gas to summarize Advent and Lent. The church I serve is blessed with lots of creative folks, but even so, the caveat I’d offer is to avoid over-programming. People of all sorts seem to be overbooked and overscheduled. It’s hard to be counter-cultural and offer time for church leaders and participants in the creative programming of the church to rest and be renewed. That’s our greatest growing edge.

What are you planning at your place? What is your faith community's greatest growing edge?

Muthuh+ also has a very good question awaiting your response:

As a newly retired pastor/priest, I am not sure what I can do in parishes. For the past 30 years I have been the sole pastor or senior pastor. I am still vital but not willing to be in charge any longer. What would clergy like for a pastor to do or NOT do if I joined your congregation?

Please use the Post a Comment function to offer your answers to our questions...we are looking forward to hearing from you!

May you live in God's amazing grace+


  1. This is for Mutah+ - I have worked with retired clergy and am always gratful for their assistance. I appreciated their willingness to be on the preaching and presiding rota - in a time frame that met their energy - once a month or once every six week. It was good to have a different voice to reflect on the texts. I also appreciated some pastoral care visits - although those were usually to people that the retired person knew better than I - which may not be the case in your situation -but still helpful. Lastly, as useful I appreciate the counsel of the retired priest, a person I could speak freely with, share concerns, and listen to ideas and feedback - someone who was a colleague. That said, there were also retired colleagues withwhom I would NOT do that, share my concerns and seek their counsel.

    In otherwords, what I tried to do was engage the experience and wisdom and voice of the retired person without over taxing them, wanting to honor their retired status.

    Lastly, before you join a congregation speak with the rector and see what he/she hopes for and how you can support her/him in their ministry. I really would have loved that. Blessings for you as you enter this new phase of your ministry...

  2. Muthah+, if you came to my parish I would love for you to get to know us, and then I'd welcome a back-up person for the preaching rota, and perhaps other tasks, depending on where you felt called--do you have an area of ministry that you wish you could've devoted more time to? Chances are you could take it on in a new parish.

    Like Mompriest, I've worked with some wonderful retired priests who were willing to help out where needed and whose expertise I valued, but I've known a few who had trouble realizing that they were no longer in charge.

    In the parish I last attended before seminary, three retired priests took turns taking Christmas day services so that the rector could have the day off. I always thought that was a wonderful gift. Of course, you may want a few Christmases off yourself before you jump back in to something like that!

  3. Our attendance is higher, multiply so, in summer than in winter, so we actually are slowing down. At the same time, we will be celebrating a return to predictability and a more personalized ministry than is possible in the summer, when the faces change every week and our winter regulars have gone somewhere else on vacation.

    Muthah+, I have two retired pastors in my summer congregation, and I really appreciated their candor in telling me how they wanted to fit in and what their boundaries were. I know that's a little different because they aren't full-time residents, but I'd much rather hear up front about their gifts and their preferences than to have them say, at the end of the summer, "I wish I could have done (something)."

    As a tentmaker who is relatively inexperienced, I definitely appreciated hearing them say, "I'm here to worship, not to critique." In a small congregation, I have to be careful asking, "How would you handle ...?", but I frequently bounce ideas off of them about programming.

  4. Muthuh-
    I would love to have a retired pastor willing to do some teaching on Sunday morning particularly out of their passions. I would add pastoral care support particularly with my homebound! I hear from my retired friends to take it easy the first 6 months - 1 year and after that you may end up just as busy as when you working! Hope you are well!

  5. Muthuh, Not sure what the heck is going on with my profile. Clearly I'm roadkill with all of this blogging stuff. Anyway this is Liz, from the cruise.

  6. Muthuh, we have one retired priest/seminary professor and three priests who have jobs outside the parish in our congregation (one secular, two denominationally based). I think that first of all RevDrMom's suggestion of "get to know us" is a great starting place. Perhaps consider keeping a low profile, just observing and getting to know people for a while. Make sure it's a good fit for you!

    After that, maybe asking how you can be of help--pastoral care, preaching, sounding board, etc...or not at all--while sharing what you enjoy and your limits; I'd end that conversation with "Why don't you ponder this for a while and then you can get back to me in a month or so?" so that the pressure isn't on the pastor for a quick response.

  7. Also for Muthah... We've just had a retired priest join us as sort of an "a la carte" staff member. He is preaching about monthly and helping with some pastoral visits, and trying to start a men's bible study kind of thing (he's the only guy on the staff).

    Its a huge blessing for us - our senior priest has medical issues that mean she is not really working full-time or at full-speed right now, and they went from a full-time associate to a half-time associate. Its a blessing for him because he A. likes our congregation, B. loves ministry and C. just doesn't want to be in charge anymore.

    What I really want to share is that we had a rather hard time finding support when our priest was diagnosed. I think there might be a ministry out there for retired clergy who still want some ministry work in helping out clergy with health issues who needs some short-term support. Its made a big difference for us!

  8. To all who responded: Thanks, so much for the wisdom shared. I have been asked by a priest of a medium-sized parish in the days since I submitted the question. I will be doing some bible study starting next month. But I am going to spend some time "getting to know the parish."

    The rector is very tired and has had some personal issues over the past 3 years as has the diocese. I hope I can help. The last thing I want to do is cause problems! I am all too familiar with the problems retired clergy can provide.


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