You are here

November 2018 Transitions by Holley Galland Haymaker

Blog category: 

I write this column during interim interview week. No news yet. I take this opportunity while we wait to quote from In the Interim: Strategies for Interim Ministers and Congregations which was edited by Keith Kron and had multiple contributors. Our Interim Task Force has used this book to learn about these interims this ministry. We have ordered copies for the library. I hope you will find these excerpts informative.

In the Afterword, Barbara Child writes: In his essay “Circles,” Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.” Interim ministry invites congregations and interims to join together in sharing an exciting and fruitful time of being unsettled, in between called ministries…Transition times are alive with opportunity—to discover, to explore, to practice, to try on ideas without necessarily having to commit to them first. And the freedom inherent in such fluid experience is transformative for a congregation.

In her chapter, A Different Country, Judith Walker-Riggs writes: Called ministry has intensely to do with relationships, forming deep knowledge and understanding of congregants, which grow over the years. Interim ministry is generally not about relationships with individual congregants…Richard Nugent adds: It is about ministering to the whole of the congregation—the children, youth, and adults its programs serve—but it is also much more. Interim ministry is about inviting the present congregation to envision the congregation of tomorrow. It is about looking at the health of the congregation as a whole as well as each of its component parts. It is about coming to understand the emotions (grief, sadness, anger, disappointment, among others) associated with the end of the previous ministry and navigating the anxiety of looking ahead to the future ministry.

Keith Kron, the editor, writes: The interim ministers typically find congregations much in need of grief work, although the congregations don’t usually say so. In fact, the give-away is that the congregants are in a hurry to focus on the future. It is typical for them to want to move into the ministerial search process before they have done anything about coming to terms with their past

Roberta Finkelstein in a chapter called Strengthening Connections Beyond the Congregation writes: In the early weeks of every interim ministry, I tell the congregation that their goal for the interim time is to answer three questions: Who were we? Who are we? Who do we wish to be? Answering these questions is the core work of the interim period and is essential to the successful settlement of the next minister.

She adds: The search and settlement process is about understanding and articulating the identity, practices, strengths, and hopes and dreams of the congregation in such a way that a potential minister will understand how their personal strengths and visions fit best with those of the congregation.