The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


The Magnificent Seven

No, not the 1960 Western a posse of pastors instead

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.

“But 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.”

<BR><BR>When Grace Lutheran Church,
When 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.

Hendersonville, 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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