For the past fourteen months, I served as an interim, or transitional, pastor to a Lutheran (ELCA) congregation whose pastor had retired, after 38 years in the same church! My task was to help the congregation through the initial transition ~ through some of the grieving and confusion that followed its pastor’s departure, and into some of the questions about change and possibility which had suddenly surfaced. None of us knew quite what to expect, but we developed a deep and loving relationship and pursued healthy ministry together.
I had done a week’s worth of training for interim pastors ~ a specialized ministry ~ and completed a second week while I was with my congregation. I spent a lot of time during my last month there reassuring folks about how wonderful it would be to welcome a new, settled pastor, and preaching about preparation for the future.
Nevertheless, I was unprepared for how disoriented I myself would be when my time with them ended. I had a couple of interviews with other churches during my last week, but neither panned out (for quite different reasons). In the nearly two weeks since, I have been feeling drained and unmotivated to take the next steps needed to secure employment. I recognize the signs of grief, and am trying to give myself a break and the time needed to regroup from yet another loss.
It seems that interim ministry makes excellent use of my particular gifts and skills. But there is this pesky little problem of falling in love with a congregation and then having to say good-bye . . .