Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
On behalf of all of the local churches in the Iowa and Dakotas Annual Conferences, I want to thank you for your support and encouragement of your clergy. It is not an easy calling to be a pastor, particularly during this time of COVID, when our clergy have had to continually reinvent themselves in ministry in order to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ and stay connected with their parishioners.
Our clergy have a myriad of responsibilities that can be daunting. First and foremost is preparing a worship service and a sermon for every Sunday. Pastoral care is also a critical part of a pastor’s job description, and I know that has been a challenge over the past year and a half because of COVID restrictions. Our clergy have learned how to conduct Bible studies and meetings by Zoom. They have done virtual counseling and have found ways to connect with shut-ins. One of the things that especially warms my heart is the creative evangelism and outreach that is taking place in our communities.
Did you know that congregations are also called to care for your pastors? Over 125 years ago, churches would give their new pastor “a good pounding”! Sound good to you? It means that everyone would give the pastor and family a pound of something needful: butter, flour, chicken, beef, fruit, vegetables, and the like. Times have changed, so how can you care for and support your pastor for such a time as this?
- First, pray for your pastor every day. Pray that God would grant to your pastor wisdom, strength, and grace in his or her ministry.
- Volunteer your own time and gifts to the church.
- Take the initiative to focus your service to Christ outward into your community.
- Encourage your pastor to take adequate time away to renew and refresh their mind, body, and spirit. There are laity in all of our congregations who have the gifts to lead worship in the absence of their pastor.
- Be a vessel of grace and hope in your local congregation as you support your pastor’s ministry.
- Most of all, express gratitude and appreciation to your pastor for all the ways in which she or he cares for their flock.
God bless all of you and let us be kind to each other in this extraordinary time.
Dear God, we thank you for all those who serve as clergy in the Dakotas and Iowa and around the world. Thank you for their deep commitment to making disciples of Jesus Christ in order that our world might be transformed. May we do all we can to encourage and support our clergy as they lead their congregations out into our communities to make a difference. Give them vision. Wrap your arms around them when they suffer and empower them with courage. Most of all, surround all of us with your Holy Spirit, fill our hearts with hope, and watch over us in love. Amen.