Vestry Update

The September 19 forum on the call process highlighted the difference between the call process for a Lead Pastor and a hiring decision in other parts of society. On the one hand, the temptation may be to solicit many resumes, to compare candidates’ strengths and weaknesses. On the other hand, according to our Lutheran theology, we are all living out a vocation—the Latin root of which means “to call”—and as ministers ourselves we call a pastor to lead us in that shared undertaking. Above all, we trust that God is guiding the process.


The Saint Paul Area Synod prescribes a process for the calling of a pastor, and Pilgrim has been following it closely. Nearly 200 Pilgrims answered an extensive survey about Pilgrim’s identity and needs, and Pastor Chris and the survey team compiled and analyzed the results. More Pilgrims participated in a series of focus groups, and another team compiled and analyzed that qualitative data. All this work will inform the construction of Pilgrim’s Ministry Site Profile (MSP), the document that defines for pastoral candidates who Pilgrim is as a congregation and where we are called to go.


At its September meeting, after reviewing an impressive array of applications, the Vestry formally approved a Call Committee. They are:

  • Stephanie Gossett

  • Joan Haan

  • Pamela Itzin

  • Matt O’Toole

  • Elizabeth Schoenknecht

  • Kate Tosteson


Once the MSP is complete, the Call Committee will begin its task of considering, and recommending to the entire congregation, a new Lead Pastor.


As discussed in last month’s newsletter and at the September 19 forum, Pastor Jen has discerned she would like to be considered as a candidate for the Lead Pastor position. When an internal candidate steps forward, the synod requires that she be given first consideration. (One reason for that is that the presence of an internal candidate tends to discourage other applicants.) Even though Pastor Jen will be considered first, the process will proceed as outlined in the Synod’s Call Process manual, with the full preparation of the MSP, a thorough interview and review, and no assumptions because of familiarity.


If Pastor Jen is not called as Pilgrim’s next lead pastor, then the Call Committee will begin interviewing external candidates.


A question that arose at the forum was how Pilgrims can comment on the process to the Call Committee. The short answer is that you already have by answering the CAT survey, by participating in the focus groups, and by offering your thoughts at the forum.


At the same time, it is important for Pilgrims to trust the process, and especially to trust—and pray for—the work of the Call Committee. It is also important for the Call Committee to be clear about its task. The foremost question for it to consider is not whether the congregation will like this pastor, or whether this person’s talents will be fully engaged by this call, but whether this is the person whom God commends to the congregation as its Pastor. That would be an odd question for a mere hiring committee to ask!


-Tim Dykstal and Tim Moore, for the Vestry