It’s early in the morning on my favorite Iowa Conference festival: New Pastors’ Day! In a few hours, our staff will gather to welcome splendidly gifted new pastors who have begun ministry in the Iowa Conference in the past year. Throughout a day of orientation and conversation, we will raise grateful sighs and prayers to the Holy Spirit – both for gifting these new pastors so bountifully and for stirring them to calls in congregations of the Iowa Conference.
In a recent phone conversation, I was asked by a staff member in another Conference, “You know what people are about the Iowa Conference, don’t you? You guys are getting everyone’s good pastors!” Of course we’re not getting everyone’s good pastors, but we are deeply grateful for those we are able to welcome today.
I’m grateful to everyone who has completed service on a congregation’s Search Committee in the past year (and for those of you who are continuing your holy work). The work of calling a new pastor to a congregation is indeed holy work, but also hard work that puts Search Committee members’ faith, patience, hope, endurance, flexibility and courage to a vigorous test. Thank you.
I’m grateful to each of our gifted new pastors for saying, “YES!” to the call of an Iowa Conference congregation. For some of you, the “yes” came as naturally as a next breath, with an assuring sense of “just so-ness”. For others, “yes” came as the deep gasp launching a great leap of faith. Thank you.
I am deeply grateful to the Spirit who guards, guides, and gifts ministry. I accepted a call to ministry in and for the Iowa Conference four years ago, bringing to this new work an expanding reverence for the power and presence of God’s Holy Spirit. After four years of supporting congregations and pastors buy ventolin inhaler online usa through what we call the “search and call” process, I could tell stories of the wonders of God’s Holy Spirit until I grew hoarse. Thank you, Holy Spirit.
A challenge we face in welcoming new pastors to the Iowa Conference is that we rank 31st out of 37 Conferences in our compensation of pastors. Another way to say it is that the congregations of only six other Conferences in the United Church of Christ compensate their pastors less generously than the congregations of the Iowa Conference. Another way to say it is that the congregations of thirty other Conferences in the United Church of Christ – including neighboring Conferences in the Midwest – compensate their pastors more generously than we.
Our generosity as congregations toward our pastors – in compensation, in time away from the responsibilities of ministry, in our prayers and in our words – is certainly a tool we faithfully offer for the Spirit’s use. One of the ways the Spirit stirs to call excellent pastors to the congregations of the Iowa Conference is by stirring each of us toward creative and energetic devotion in our worship of God through giving.
New Pastors’ Day. It’s a good day to raise a prayer of thanksgiving for the new pastors called to serve among us. It’s a good day to pray that more gifted brothers and sisters will answer God’s call to parish ministry (even to pray that we might be open to that call in our lives!). It’s a good day to pick up the phone or stop by the office or send an email to your pastor to say thank you for saying “Yes!” to the Spirit and to your congregation’s call – whether it was this year or many blessed years ago.
Jonna Jensen, Associate Conference Minister