Dear friends in Christ, I wanted to share with you my journey of discernment, and thought it helpful to share it with you through a blog post. Peace, Pastor Sarah
On August 1st I celebrated my 11th year of ordination in the roster of word and sacrament in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, and I give thanks that I have been able to serve as one of your pastors at St. Peter’s for 7 of those years. These years have been a privilege: preaching the gospel and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with you; celebrating communion; baptizing blessing affirmations of baptism through confirmation and through new membership classes; talking with you about faith and facilitating Christian education classes, visiting with you in your home, at the hospital and in rehab centers; and walking with you when we commended a loved one to our Lord’s eternal care.
I wanted to share a bit of my discernment journey with you as I begin the process of saying farewell as your Pastor of Christian Formation.
A few years ago, church leadership started to look with eyes of faith to what the next five, ten, fifteen years might look like in the mission and ministry of St. Peter’s. And, thus began my discernment journey exploring my call to congregational ministry, and specifically, my call as one of the pastors at St. Peter’s.
A 2017-19 fellowship with the Clergy Leadership Program of Central Pennsylvania through Messiah College allowed me to deepen my understanding of the pastoral role in the context of congregation and the wider community and to connect with a spiritual director who has walked with me in my discernment process.
During this period of time, I was trying to parse a feeling to a variety of calls. Call to the ministry I love, call to the needs of the wider church, and also the call to my family. Since the beginning of 2020, there have been some shifting needs in my nuclear and extended family circles. Over the last year I have been in prayer and conversation with family, spiritual directors, and colleagues about my discernment journey.
In the spring of 2021 after prayerful discernment with my family and spiritual director, I came to the conclusion that in this season of my life, I am feeling called to serve the wider church in a non-congregational setting.
In the beginning of June, I shared with Pastor Craig my intent to end my call as pastor at St. Peter’s. We began discussing what a transition may look like. Considering the potential impact of a pastoral transition on our mission campaign and strategic planning work, Pastor Craig and I alerted Richie Musser, our campaign consultant, to my decision.
Several weeks after learning of my intent to leave St. Peter’s, Kirby-Smith Associates invited me to discern the opportunity of joining them in helping churches, religious institutions, and non-profits raise and steward funds in service to the Lord.
As I prayed about this opportunity, I was reminded of the ways that God has guided me toward this work. During my internship (vicar year) I served at Christus Victor in Naples, FL and was part of their capital campaign team. During my first call in Perrysburg, OH I helped the Northwestern Ohio Synod with an appeal to raise funds for ministries in need. In my call to St. Peter’s, I have loved helping out with the Mission Campaign.
This work in serving the wider church with Kirby-Smith would touch upon my passion toward communication, stewardship, and connecting people to a common vision in love of neighbor and service to our Lord. Through this discernment, my next calling became clear. And, after Pastor Craig returned from his vacation, I shared my plan to leave St. Peter’s in early October.
With an ocean of emotion, I say goodbye as one of your rostered leaders, and pray that God continues to guide you and this congregation as you continue in building a community of faith by God’s grace. I ask for your prayers, as well, as I continue on my journey.
To quote the lyrics from a beloved hymn, God be with you till we meet again.