Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Last Shall Be First

Tonight was our first Village Singers performance of the 2008-2009 concert season, or maybe it was the last concert of the 2007-2008 run.

It definitely was a reprise of our spring concert program, done at a church that couldn't fit us in last May but could this evening.

The concert went well; at least Linda our director was pleased, and she's pretty darn particular, especially about little things like harsh terminal rrrrs and people not holding legato lines or singing in their throats.

The interesting thing for me was that the venue was a church in a nearby town that's been without a pastor for a year or more. They'd had one interim pastor and I'd heard in late June that they might be looking for another. So I sent my church resume in. When I didn't hear back, following up was difficult, since the only contact information was via snail-mail in care of the church. And I admit I didn't feel it was worth it, as in August my executive presbyter enthusiastically mentioned during a committee meeting how the interim pastor had ripped out the Communion table, font, and pulpit, got rid of the hymnals, and installed the praise band's instruments front and center on the chancel. Me, I do not consider endless theologically-shallow chorusses to be a Means of Grace, so I figured that church wouldn't want me anyway.

But earlier this month I encountered some folks who know people who go to that church, and they told me my EP had gotten it totally wrong. Yes, they do have a praise band that plays sometimes, but everything else is still there, too.

Well then. Tonight was my chance to talk to someone face to face and see where things stood.

Hmm. Hymnals still in the pews. Communion table, font, pulpit, all still there on the platform, only moved aside to make room for our choir risers.

But were they still looking for a follow-on interim pastor? Had they even received my resume at all?

I found my opportunity as we were sitting in the fellowship hall, waiting to go on. I approached the elder who was expediting our performance, and asked him about it.

"Oh! I wish we'd had a chance to talk to you sooner!" Obviously, he'd never seen my resume. "We've decided not to get another interim; we think we're farther along in our search for a permanent pastor than that. But we've hired a seminary student to come in and fill our pulpit every Sunday. He starts the beginning of November."

I found out who this is: He's also the youth director at another church in the area. We voted him in as an official candidate for ministry at the presbytery meeting last Tuesday.

"He was recommended by the executive presbyter," said my informant.

Oh, gee, thanks, Mr. EP, sir, I didn't say. Thanks for the vote of confidence, not even giving them my name so they could at least talk to me.

But then I think back to that committee meeting in August, when the EP was describing how this church was proving its missional bona fides by minimizing the traditional media of church growth and nurture, e.g., the Word and Sacraments, and exalting contemporary, popular means like praise music. When it came time to recommend a steady pulpit supply for this church, that young man's name and reputation automatically must have come to him.

Or maybe my EP didn't think I'd be interested in a steady pulpit supply position.

However it was, the elder I talked to tonight asked me to give him my card anyway. "You never know," he said.

I don't expect anything out of it under the circs, but he might know somebody who knows somebody who needs an interim pastor. The more my name is out there, the better.

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