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The Vital Connection, episode nine: Pastoral transitions

By: Jeff Pospisil, executive director Finance and Administration, Dakotas UMC

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In this episode, Rev. Andy Bartel, lead pastor at St. John UMC, Anchorage, Alaska, visits with Jeff Pospisil, executive director of Finance and Administration for the Dakotas Conference, about pastoral transitions. Bartel, an ordained elder of the Dakotas Conference and former member of the Board of Ordained Ministry here, experienced four different appointments in six years. He shares a wealth of wisdom for pastors and churches as they undergo transitions.

“I start every appointment with the thought – 'The appointment is better than you deserve,'” said Bartel. “If you are a pastor leaving a church, ask, how can you leave well?”  Pastors who are leaving, need to commit to praying for the congregation and incoming pastor.

Pastor Andy states, as the outgoing pastor, treat people with love and respect.  Make sure you allow for opportunities to say goodbye. Saying goodbye will help you move on and prepare the church to accept the incoming pastor. Reach out to the incoming pastor to help get them any information they may need for the appointment.

As a clergy person enters a new appointment, Bartel states, “As a clergy member enters a new church, what will make the biggest difference in preparing for a good transition?” The first step is to commit to pray for the congregation.

When you enter a new appointment Pastor Andy shares some key questions to ask:

What is the heart of the church? What do they love about the church and community? Who is their primary mission field?

What are the church’s budget for the last couple of years and the church’s statistics for the previous 10-40 years?

Who are the people that need pastoral care at the nursing home or hospital? What are the expectations of me? How do my gifts and talents align?  What might be some gaps between my gifts and the expectations?

Resources: Click here for recources on pastoral transitions. Contact Rev. Andy Bartel by email and visit the Anchorage St. John's website to learn more.



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