Christ the King Sunday was the last Sunday of the church year. It was also my last Sunday serving as pulpit supply with Dovre Lutheran Church in Newburg, N.D.
It was a bittersweet day to say the least. Saying goodbye to this group of parishioners that I had gotten to know over the past two and a half years was tough. I had grown close to them, and they had become a big part of my Sunday mornings, along with my husband and our two daughters who usually attended the church with me.
Dovre had been without a pastor for a while, and during that time, I was blessed to serve as pulpit supply or lay leader for this small congregation with an average attendance of 25. This was a great time for growth and discernment for all of us. It gave me the opportunity to study the Bible each week as I prepared what I hoped was a meaningful (and entertaining) message.
And the Dovre congregation had time to prayerfully contemplate and prepare for the process of calling a new pastor.
Our relationship grew close, but we always knew we would have to part. We knew this flock would need ordained clergy to lead it one day. We rejoiced together when a candidate was made available, and we shared our frustrations and concerns when he or she would accept a call at another congregation.
Throughout the process, I gave thanks and praise to God for the gifts God has given me and continues to give me. The people of Dovre Lutheran are a gift that I will always hold in my heart.
As I said the benediction that last day, it was impossible to hold back the tears. But these weren’t tears of sadness. These were tears of thankfulness that I had the opportunity to be with them and that they found someone who will lead them into the future.
What has your experience been with an interim or lay leader? Did they help move your congregation forward?
Lisa Plorin is a first-term Women of the ELCA executive board member from Upham, N.D. She’ll return to her home church, New Hope in Upham.
Lisa’s goodbye cake & selfie photo with her congregation