We need pastors. Pastors are our teachers, our leaders, the ones who carry our burdens in ways that others can’t or won’t. They won’t reject us in our most revealing moments. They are endlessly hopeful, to the point that we tend to believe it must be the Holy Spirit, ‘cause ‘ain’t no one that optimistic in real life! They guide us to Jesus and inspire confidence that God is trustworthy and holy, worthy of all honor and glory.
Pastors aren’t forever. It’s a mantra that I’ve repeated for decades now. After almost 20 years of pastoral ministry, am I allowed to say decades? Probably not, but there you go. Pastors aren’t forever. However you might think about that statement, I’m sure we can agree that churches tend to live longer than the tenures of their pastors. And thus, transitions are a necessary part of church life. Pastoral transitions are a mixed bag, and if you’ve been around church for a little while, you know what I mean. Seeing a beloved figure leave can be heartbreaking; it can even feel like a betrayal. Many of us are profoundly affected by our pastors. Even when a transition is healthy, it’s tough. And then there are the times that healthy isn’t the word you would choose. The difficulty only ramps up.
The family of churches that make up the Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba have experienced many excellent and gifted pastors, and that continues to be the case. Below you will see a list of recent transitions and pastoral vacancies. That’s a list that represents a lot. There are churches, pastors and families on the move. A host of stories. All of us at the MBCM office appreciate the many ways that churches have invited us into their transitions. Connecting with staff and lead teams as they navigate transition is a privilege. Whether sitting with a search team as they navigate the next steps or visiting with a pastor contemplating retirement from ministry, these are precious and holy moments.
There are many stories, and I’d like to tell them all. But here are two.
Discerning and equipping pastors is a tough errand. We’ve been trying many approaches over the decades with varying degrees of success. Success is measured in terms of new pastors working in our churches. I admit that’s a limited scope of what success looks like, but that’s what we’re talking about today. Multiply Central Canada has implemented TREK to be one such lane of equipping and discerning. Kevin Dyck stepped away from his work as a chiropractor and stepped into TREK as a move of discernment. He also served as worship coordinator at Fort Garry MB. Through this discernment journey, Kevin heard God’s call to pastoral ministry grow. In July 2021, Kevin started as the lead pastor at La Salle Community Fellowship. What a great story of success! No pressure Kevin.
How would you feel if the pastor you loved went to a church up the road a ways? I don’t know about you, but I can see that being kinda tough. For the elder team at The Meeting Place, this was a question they faced when John Neufeld accepted the role of lead pastor at Eastview Community Church. How were the people of TMP to think about this? TMP’s elder team sent Eastview’s leaders a letter. Don’t worry; it’s a good story! It was a letter of blessing. A communication of sisterly and brotherly love. A note that said John was a blessing to us, and we pray that he will be a blessing for you. I don’t know about you, but I get that warm and fuzzy Holy Spirit feeling inside when I see this kind of story.
Would you please pray for our pastors? The ones that serve today. The ones that have departed and even the ones to come.
Pray also for our churches in transition. That God would grant wisdom and favor as they search for the next pastor.
*A special note of thank you to our retiring pastors. Gerry Harms, Bob Enns and Terry Sawatsky have lived full ministry lives. They have poured out for the sake of the church. As any pastor knows, it’s not always easy and fun. But, it’s always worth it. These three have served a worthy King. Thank you for spending so much of your lives for the benefit of the bride of Christ. May you each experience the words of Jesus, “well done, good and faithful servant.”