Sunday, January 20, 2008


This morning at the Daniels Run Church* I heard the answer to some questions I hadn't yet asked.

And those were, what were their plans as to long-term or steady pastoral ministry? Were they thinking of hiring someone for longterm stated pulpil supply? And if so, would they consider looking at me?

They've been without a regular minister since November or so. As I understand it, up to then the Daniels Run Church was supplied by IrmaLou*, a student from Steelertown Presbyterian Seminary* (SPS). This past year she graduated and took her denominational ordination exams. While she waited for the results of her ords, she continued to serve the DRPC Church. I think the idea was that, once she passed and could be ordained, they'd call her to be their pastor, at least on a half-time basis.

But the PC(USA) exam results came out this fall, and IrmaLou had flunked one of them. Church polity (i.e., constitution and government), most likely. It usually is. And someone-- maybe the Committee on Ministry of the Presbytery South of Here, wouldn't let her sit for a retake until she'd gone back to SPS and taken a class or another class on it (It is possible to get through seminary and your ords without taking Polity. Ask me, I know.) And if she did that, COM would let her keep serving the Daniels Run Church in the meantime.

But her life situation forbade her from taking more seminary classes at this time. She wouldn't be able even to think of it before next September. Since she was no longer a student but not yet eligible for ordination, the COM would not or could not allow her to continue to fill the DRPC pulpit.

So what, I wondered, were the Daniels Run people going to do all the coming winter, spring, and summer? Could I help them on any steady basis?

I got my answer this morning.

One of the elders accosted me at the door, just as I was about to enter the sanctuary: "Could I make an announcement before you begin the service?"

"Could you do it during the regular announcement time?" I suggested, wondering what was so stupendous it couldn't wait.

"No, I want to do it at the beginning. I have something I need to pass out to the congregation."

Oh. Seemed a little odd to me, but hey, I'm only the weekly supply. "All right," I said.

So after the prelude, I said, "Silas* has an announcement for you."

Silas stood up in his place and said, "I'm head of the committee that's working to get us a regular pastor, and I've got some news! We've been working with the Committee on Ministry and IrmaLou on how we can get her back as our regular pastor! And we've all decided that she'll be certified as a Commissioned Lay Pastor and we'll hire her on half-time. That means she'll be able to run Session meetings and do baptisms and funerals and communion-- but just for this congregation.

"But first," Silas continued, "Committee on Ministry wants everyone in this congregation to write down what they expect in a minister. I'm passing out a survey, and you write down what's important to you, like preaching, visiting, teaching, that kind of thing. You get them back to me, and when we get everything worked out, we should have our pastor IrmaLou back with us!"

He passed the papers around and throughout the service, people were busily filling them out. And me, I was mentally crossing the Daniels Run option off my list.

Even though it cuts me out, I admire their loyalty to their regular student supply minister. I admire it all the more since she's a woman, and many churches I know run their woman pastors ragged and suck them dry, then get angry at them because they can't give any more. This congregation seems to be different.

I just hope when IrmaLou gets her CLP and returns, she'll preach them Christ and Him crucified. If you don't do that, you're not qualified to be any category of Christian pastor at all.

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