INTERIM PASTOR JEFFERY BONN
I’ve been a pastor for 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,
Last month, I wrote about the very beginning of Synod Assembly where voting members and clergy gather from our Lutheran ministries all across our large portion of the lower peninsula of Michigan. There are a number of things I want to pass on from that event. An important one is an announcement around the end of the current term for our bishop next year. After lots of internal and external discernment, Bishop Satterlee is open to be considered for another 6-year term as the bishop for our geographic synod. This means next year he could be elected for another term. Or others could also be nominated at the beginning of that assembly and someone else could be elected. It will up to those who are authorized by Church Councils to be voting members at next year’s assembly.
Beyond that part of Synod Assembly, I also looked at the assembly’s actions through my eyes as an Interim Pastor noticing the effects of change and transition. There were resolutions passed around several issues including observing the 50th anniversary of the ELCA starting to ordain women as clergy (a big change!), the issue of gun violence and assault weapons, and also environmental stewardship. If you are curious about these resolutions, I’d be happy to pass on more details.
The resolution that I most viewed through the lens of change and transition was a proposed change to the Synod Constitution that would remove term limits for key positions with the Synod Council: the Vice President and the Treasurer. These are key positions, particularly the Vice President who is a lay person that runs the Synod Council and sets the agenda as delegated by the Bishop.
A major motivation for removing the term limits is looking ahead to next year around potential transition. (That’s my lens!) If a new bishop is elected next year, a new Vice President would also need to be elected because of term limits. That would mean a lot of change in the Synod leadership that wouldn’t be necessary if not for term limits.
There was also some ‘drama’ around how this change to the constitution was handled. And again it has a lot to do with change and transition. The long-time parliamentarian (the person who handles all the procedural “Robert’s Rules of Order” and constitutional technicalities) decided it was time to pass on the role. He has been doing it since before I was ordained 10 years ago. But he was still in attendance since he is a pastor within the synod. More than once he was able to offer helpful perspectives from the floor and to consult with the new parliamentarian. He had good input for other resolutions, but he was invaluable when it turned out that in trying to compromise on the term limit change, the assembly basically voted in an unconstitutional motion! With time and help from him and others, it was resolved in a valid way that deals with the underlying issue of timing changes in synod leadership.
I bring all this up, partially for your information, if you care about such things, but also because of how I see it in the perspective of change and transition. When people leave positions they take with them valuable experience and knowledge. But they don’t have to completely go away. What needs to happen is they need to become something new. The long-time parliamentarian left the position for someone else, but stays connected and helpful in a healthy new way.
That relates directly to the Prince of Peace community because Pastor Dan is no longer the pastor, but is becoming something new, while still in the community. The challenge is to manage that new relationship in helpful and healthy ways. Pr. Dan has valuable experience and knowledge and I do talk with him. The key is to trust me as your Interim Pastor, the next pastors, and Pr. Dan to be the ones directly managing that relationship. I am enjoying this whole process and look forward to continuing to be your pastor through it!
With gratitude for the good news of the Trinity, Interim Pastor Jeff Bonn