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Welcome Pastor Chris Smith!

Dear members of the Pilgrim community:

With Pastor Carol Tomer having taken a new call in the Pacific Northwest, we now begin an interim period in the life of Pilgrim Lutheran Church. During this interim, we are thankful for the people of Pilgrim who give us continuity with the past and who sustain our present, including our pastors Jen and Lynn, our music ministers Paul, Maggie, and Dick, our Director of Children, Youth, and Family Ministries Alex, and Cathy, Mary, Denika, Chuck, and Mike, who keep the office running and help us to stay in contact with one another, especially during this time when we must be physically separate.

We are also happy to announce that guiding us during this period will be our new interim lead pastor, the Reverend Chris Smith.

Pastor Chris comes to us highly recommended by the Saint Paul Area Synod. Most recently, from August 2018 to May 2019, he was the Interim Senior Pastor at Incarnation Lutheran Church in Shoreview. He has had many interim and non-interim calls around the Synod, including serving as Senior Pastor at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Apple Valley from 2007-2015. (Coincidentally, Vestry member Timothy Bell-Kemp was a member of SOTV during that period and was confirmed by Pastor Chris!) Pastor Chris has a doctorate in Biblical Preaching from Luther Seminary (where also he served on the Adjunct Faculty from 2009 to 2016), an M.A. in Classical Philology from Harvard University, and—in a break from “tradition” at Pilgrim—a B.A. from St. Olaf College. He is also the Coordinator of the Friends of Huruma, the non-profit organization, based in the United States, that supports the Huruma Centre Children’s Home located in Iringa, Tanzania.

Pilgrim is fortunate to have a pastor of Pastor Chris’s energy and abilities to serve as interim lead. Among the many tasks he will guide us through is a thorough assessment of the congregation’s talents, needs, and desires for the future. Such an assessment is a vital step before we begin the search for a permanent lead pastor, and it will take time to complete. We also face the challenges of resuming congregational life “in the flesh” when the pandemic eases, of continuing our work toward economic and racial justice, and of joyfully celebrating our 100th anniversary in October 2021. These challenges mean that Pastor Chris will likely be with us for a longish interim period, perhaps as much as a year or more.

If you have questions or suggestions about how we can best approach this interim period, please reach out to any member of the Vestry. Our names and contact information are listed below.

And please offer a warm Pilgrim welcome to Pastor Chris as he begins his ministry with us. He will join us for the forum on Sunday, February 7.


The Pilgrim Vestry

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