INTERIM PASTOR JEFFERY BONN
I’ve been a pastor for almost 10 years. After going to Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa with my wife, I served as pastor of Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Saginaw for 8 years while my wife served as a deacon (rostered lay minister) at Covenant Hospital heading up their Department of Pastoral Care & Education.
We have two sons who went to high school in Freeland where we live. The oldest is married now in Milwaukee, WI working fulltime in the architecture field while finishing his degree part-time. The younger is engaged after finishing a teaching degree at Spring Arbor University near Jackson. He’s currently teaching middle school math and science full-time now near the school district that he did student teaching.
My first career was as a mathematician and professor using degrees from Lehigh University, Indiana University/Bloomington and Southern Illinois University/Carbondale and teaching at University of North Dakota/Grand Forks, Mayville (ND) State University, and Michigan Tech.
While in Houghton, my wife and I discerned God’s call for us each to go into professional ministry. We had met in graduate school while she got her Ph.D. and became a math educator and professor. But she found God turning her towards ministry as a chaplain and I towards pastoral parish ministry. Before we graduated from seminary, she was offered her head chaplaincy position in Saginaw. And so we headed back to Michigan where she grew up (born near Detroit, growing up in Holland). I waited several months before starting my ordained ministry in Saginaw.
While ending 8 years of ministry in Saginaw, I wanted to use my gifts for ministry in a different way than long-term pastoral ministry. So I took the first course in Interim Ministry for leaders helping congregations going through change, particularly while they are in-between long-term “settled” pastors. After that I served with two congregations in the Rogers City area (Trinity and St. James) who shared me as their part-time interim pastor about 3 days a week. While there I completed the Interim Ministry training with the second, more-intensive course.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I’ve enjoyed the intensity of starting almost immediately as your Interim Pastor with the season of Lent. We’ve been taking a hard look at issues of change with our Wednesday Evening worship and discussion time using the “Making Change” theme. And alongside that theme, Sundays have focused on how God’s presence is always there with and for us, particularly through God’s covenant promises in each Sunday’s Old Testament readings.
We now enter into the end of Lent with Holy Week into Easter Sunday. This is at the heart of our Christian story, death into new life. While we experience this personally throughout our lives, Holy Week into Easter Sunday is the best opportunity we have every year to experience it as a faith community. We journey together with Jesus to the cross acknowledging how we can be like the disciples and so many others that turned away from Jesus as he was persecuted and died. There are so many times when we don’t have the courage that Jesus had to witness and serve others, particularly those different from us.
But yet, as we see during the season of Easter, Jesus is resurrected with new life and does not abandon them. And he will not abandon us. Jesus searches out the disciples again, as he did when he first called them, and gives them new life, new direction, new purpose.
We see this even as the weather turns with God’s changing of the seasons, which was the focus of one of our “Making Change” weeks! We see new life all around us in the lakes and woods around us, in the fields and in the skies. Animals and plants abound with new life this time of year, as we experience it in the season of Easter with the church.
And so God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit has new life for us all, as seen in Jesus’ resurrection and his appearances to the disciples, setting them and us on new paths with new energy and passion. The Sunday after our traditional Easter Sunday worship service, the “First Sunday after Easter” on April 8, we will keep this joyous theme going with a different style of worship. Many churches have a tradition for that Sunday as “Holy Humor Sunday.” It’s a way to continue the joy of Easter with a more lighthearted worship service particularly focusing on laughter.
The service will still have “Word & Sacrament,” scripture and sharing Holy Communion. But it will also be less formal with opportunities to laugh as people share humor (stories and jokes) and people will suggest the hymns we’ll sing in a “hymn-sing” format throughout the service. I think we should be able to picture Jesus laughing at times as he hung out with his disciples, and so we can do the same with Jesus during Easter. It also fits the theme of Easter as God’s “joke” on sin and death, when God pulled one over on the devil. Just as it seems sin and death has won with Jesus’ death, it all gets turned around with Easter and the Resurrection of our Lord.
I hope many of us can be together at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church for Holy Week, Easter Sunday and on into the season of new life that is the season of Easter heading towards Pentecost and the season of the Holy Spirit.
With gratitude for the good news of the Trinity, Interim Pastor Jeff Bonn