INTERIM PASTOR JEFFERY BONN
I’ve been a pastor for over 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 Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Sometimes stuff just happens. Especially in winter.
A few weeks ago my wife, Kathy, had just about finished clearing a lane in the driveway for her to get to work. Between the two of us, with me going back and forth up to Rose City, the driveway had a thick layer of ice and so we’d been trying to keep it clear in order for it not to get worse. The layer of ice was rough enough to walk carefully on. But just as she thought she was done and putting the snow blower away, her foot slipped out from under and she went down. Trying to brace herself, her shoulder slipped out from under her and broke in her humerus bone.
I caught up with her at the ER in Saginaw after both hurriedly and patiently getting there from Rose City. We got the preliminary diagnosis and the discouraging news of how painful and long to heal a break in that particular bone is. Since then, there’s been two follow up visits with even more trips to the pharmacy for pain meds. At this point, her bone is looking ok to slowly heal at least as well as with surgery. Surgery would mean a full replacement of the joint that automatically means less range of motion and functioning. So giving it a chance to heal naturally is still making sense for now. Initially that was looking to take around 4 weeks, but now it’s looking more like 6 on medical leave from work.
For me, I’ve been helping her get used to living with her arm in a sling, loose enough to heal which also means a lot of pain whenever she moves. That has slowly gotten a little better to the point that I can get back and forth to Rose City for ministry and still help care for her and get her to appointments. It’s a major job of scheduling but it seems manageable.
It’s hard to imagine that there have been people in the past, and maybe even now, who look at accidents like hers and claim it’s an act of God because of some mistake, of some sin in her life or the life of her family. I think there can be a temptation to look at people in need and ask why, how did they get in that position. And maybe there’s an explanation that makes it their own fault. And so it’s easier to dismiss them and say they somehow deserve it. That’s been done theologically by connecting an accident, a so-called act of God, with what must be some mistake, some sin in their life. It’s still done non-theologically by connecting people’s needs and bad situations with possible reasons to blame the victim.
I think our Christian faith, the teachings of Jesus, apply in all these cases. When Jesus saw people in need, often identified as sinners and somehow deserving their situation, he reached out to them, he healed them, he lifted them up by helping. And Jesus taught that doing so should be a natural part of being a child of God and of being his disciple.
Jesus also taught that there can be reasons people are suffering and in need that are related to issues beyond them, issues of oppression and at least lack of care by people in power. So our Christian faith also calls us to work on bigger issues that impact people suffering and in need.
But sometimes stuff just happens. And we are called to help. I’m so grateful for all the help Kathy and I are getting in our time of need.
In gratitude for the good news of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Interim Pastor Jeff Bonn