I need to say goodbye for a season; I’m not sure how long. I was praying and searching for a new church call, and have become an Intentional Interim Pastor…. this is the person who serves a church between settled pastors to help the community be intentional about their transition, and future mission. I wanted to do this kind of ministry partly because the Church (in it’s largest sense, of everybody following Jesus in community) is changing in history-making ways. I believe that Christian communities between settled ministries, are more open to thinking about change, and discerning what God is doing. Then recently, God opened the door for me to serve a very large and lovely Lutheran church in Waukesha county. Wisconsin is a swing state.
Unless you’re from Wisconsin, you may not know this: Dane County (where I live) is the most liberal county in the state. My new church is in Waukesha County – the home of Paul Ryan, Scott Walker and perhaps the most conservative county in the state. Madison (where I live) is multicultural, has enormous race-class divides and rapidly increasing religious diversity… four mosques (two mostly African), several kinds of Hindu temples, a Sikh temple, dozens of Buddhist groups, and six Jewish communities. Waukesha county is 93.3% white, more in the area surrounding my new church. So I’m driving from one world into another. Yet I’m clear that God took me there, to serve these mostly upper middle class white folks, as their temporary Senior Pastor. Which does mean, learning to love more.
What’s also clear, is that there are good kind and gracious people following Jesus, in my new church, and they voted in a variety of ways. (This is not what my Madison friends think.) But we pray, together, for God’s mission, for justice, for social concerns, as well as for the usual ways we humans suffer – sickness, death, unemployment, need. We pray, together, and we sing, together… both historical hymns from northern Europe (I am really growing in my grasp of Scandinavian hymnody) but also contemporary multicultural worship music, accompanied by drums or jazz piano. One parishioner told me she felt uncomfortable – I asked “cultural appropriation?” and she said, maybe. Another told me, he loved the movie shown about the poorest zip code in Wisconsin, in Milwaukee… and he wondered, “why it is, that liberals think conservatives don’t care about poor people?” My new church gives away a lot of money to poor people, in Waukesha county, Milwaukee, El Salvador and Tanzania, among other places.
So I need to take a break, mostly because I’m working very long hours, and commuting two hours a day. But also, because I believe when God puts us in new places, as Christians, and as missionaries, it’s good to learn, and pray, and reflect, before writing and speaking. I wish you all well, and I know that the Holy Spirit is inexorably at work. Look me up on FB if you want to connect.