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,
It does seem like we are at the end of winter season, at least for those of you who are staying in Prince of Peace’s geographical area. Many people live somewhere else for various amounts of time during the winter. And I think a big reason is this time of year when we are looking forward to spring and winter seems way too slowly to be easing up. This is the time of year for the phrase ‘cabin fever.’ There’s so much nervous energy anticipating spring, many people schedule vacations to warmer climes even if they don’t leave for extended stays over the winter.
I also hear about ‘cabin fever’ with young people. College students often go somewhere warm for spring break. I also had a conversation with a high school teacher in Saginaw who sees seemingly all the students succumbing to cabin fever. Particularly this year, there was so much disruption in the school schedule because of weather earlier in the winter. So now that they’re back on a regular schedule, the anticipation and beginning of spring is literally driving them crazy with cabin fever.
So I wonder where is God in this ‘cabin fever’ phenomenon? Does God have any intent for us as we naturally experience this burst of nervous energy? I don’t think God intends for people to misbehave like young people often do trying to manage their nervous energy. How would God rather us channel this feverish energy? What does God want us to do with it?
I had work experiences during my summers off from school as an undergraduate that give me some thoughts about this time of year. I worked seasonally on a large family farm that raised a lot of crops during the growing season, pick-your-own strawberries and pumpkins, plus standard crops of corn, soy beans, and potatoes. I was always busy with school during the winter, but I did get to hear about how things had gone since I’d been there.
They did have a lot of livestock, primarily chickens that provided eggs for nearby restaurants and stores. So that kept people somewhat busy packing eggs and the potatoes that had been harvested while I was there and keeping a regular supply going.
But there was another aspect that happened only during the winter. I worked there in the mid to late 1980s and there was a big shift in operations over my time. I started as part of a big team of seasonal workers. Many hands were used for many things like to pick crops, maintain the rows of strawberry, and handle all the bales of alfalfa and straw. But by the time of my last summer, the team was dramatically smaller. Much more of the work we were doing was automated with more mechanical implements that needed annual maintenance.
And that’s what occupied some people over the winter, often the primary operators of the pieces, tractors and trucks. And depending on the complexity there would be a variety of intensity of maintenance impacted the schedule. Some winters one tractor would get a complete overhaul while another truck would just get a tune-up and another implement would only be greased up until needed in the spring.
That’s a productive way to use this anticipatory, nervous, cabin fever energy. And I wonder if God may intend us to use this energy in a personal spiritual way, too. Which I think lines up very nicely with the season of Lent which leads us into Easter and hopefully the metaphorical new life in the resurrection that connects to spring. Lent is a significant time of introspection, of looking at our own spiritual state and considering how much ‘maintenance’ we might need. Do we need just a lube and oil change? Or maybe a more complex tune-up? Or even a detailed overhaul?
The intent of our Lenten Sunday worship with bible study beforehand, and Wednesday evening prayer/vespers with a lively soup supper beforehand is to help people with their spiritual needs in order to function in the best way God intends for us to function as we regularly experience new life accomplished by Jesus’ resurrection that we celebrate on Easter as well as nearly every Sunday. Please consider participating even if you haven’t yet.
In gratitude for the good news of the Trinity,
Interim Pastor Jeff Bonn