The synod bishop wasn’t so sure about seven
retired pastors serving as an interim ministry team during a pastoral
vacancy at Grace Lutheran Church, Hendersonville, N.C.
you know your situation better than I do,” Leonard H. Bolick, bishop of
the North Carolina Synod, told council president Chuck Albers. “If you
think it will work, go ahead.”
Grace Lutheran Church, the largest ELCA congregation in western North
Carolina, experienced a pastoral vacancy, this posse of seven
pastors—with a combined 338 years of ministry experience—came to the
rescue: Nicholas May (left), Tom Hurlocker, Tim Robinson, Carl
McKenzie, Bill Seibert, Ed Ehlers and Edgar Trexler. |
And so it was that seven pastors who averaged 73.7 years old and with
338 years of pastoral experience became the ministry team during a
19-month vacancy at 1,000-member Grace, the largest ELCA congregation
in western North Carolina, according to the ELCA Yearbook.
situated at the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains, is a prime
retirement area. None of the pastors had spent their active ministry in
the area. All but one was a member of Grace, and he was already the
church’s visitation pastor.
Carl C. McKenzie, 72, the visitation
pastor whose entire previous ministry was in the Chicago area, told the
Grace church council: “I think I can do the interim, but I can’t do it
alone. I see a lot of talent in the congregation among the retired
pastors. If they will work with me, I’m willing to try. I supervised a
lot of seminarians, so I figure I can work with my peers.”
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