Thursday, December 29, 2011

Norman Begins A New Phase of Ministry as an Interim Pastor

“Retirement” is certainly not the right word, even though the Christian Church Pension Board now considers Norman a retired pastor. Starting Medicare and denominational pension (but not social security or other retirement resources) may make this official but the reality is he has moved into a new phase of ministry.

Since 2010 Norman and Central Christian Church had been communicating to coordinate the trajectories of pastoral and congregational ministries. Approaching eleven years made Norman’s the longest pastorate for Central Christian Church since 1978, and plans for a new era of outreach and growth called for fresh leadership. Approaching age 65, Norman knew he wasn’t ready to retire but was prepared for a new phase of ministry.

Prayerful consideration was given to hospital or hospice chaplaincy, spiritual director and retreat leader and interim pastoral ministry. Conversations with people in each of these fields and exploration of the necessary preparation and credentials kept pointing toward interim pastoral ministry.

Interim Ministry Network training and activating his profile with the Office of Search and Call of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) propelled Norman into his first “job search” in over a decade. But this was different. Not looking for a settled position but for a congregation whom Norman could help guide through their transition between pastors. It opened an era of perpetual job searching.

Norman and Candy visited two congregations in San Antonio, where he preached and was interviewed. Phone conversations explored possibilities with several other congregations. Then all the arrows began pointing to 1st Christian Church in Duncanville, TX, where Norman began as interim pastor on September 1.

Duncanville is about 22 miles of almost all freeway driving straight south of Norman and Candy’s home. The congregation just celebrated their 118th anniversary and has developed along with the Duncanville community. A small farming community with country culture until the suburban sprawl south of Dallas began to absorb them in the 60s. 1st Christian flourished with suburbia. As urbanization brought economic, cultural and ethnic diversity in the 21st century, 1st Christian Church is pursuing an intentional transition for effective ministry in this emerging environment. Norman’s experience and perspective seems well suited to preparing the congregation to welcome a new pastor to lead them in this new era of ministry.

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