Short of a log thrown down across a creek, bridges are a construction of many elements, each one working with the others to support the whole structure. No single beam or cable can carry the full weight. Together, though, we’ve all seen how the span of intertwined parts is strong and graceful. The same is true for a congregation traveling the Interim Bridge.
The Interim Minister is most definitely not the bridge across the expanse of time until the next Senior Minister is called. The Interim Minister is one component. I know you know this, but it helps to point out this fact. I’ll add all my 5-foot 9-inch frame can offer, but that doesn’t begin to reach nearly high nor far enough. (We won’t go into the matter of circumference…not relevant to this conversation.)
You are an essential part of forming the bridge the UBC family needs to successfully cross the interim time. How many things I could list that I might wish to ask you to contribute! You may think it’s got to be some part of the usual three-point stewardship pitch: time, talents, and money. As tempting as this trinity of institutional self-reliance can be, these are what any secular nonprofit group might ask of you. So, no, I’m not talking about the stewardship of your stuff.
What your church needs from you is the stewardship of your Christ-self. “Christ-self” is not a Baptist word, so allow me to go on. What I need and ask of you in these transition months is your witness as you yourself experience and know Christ. No one else can take your place. Your absence means that something essential goes missing from the bridge; it cannot be as strong, nor as graceful. Seriously. We suffer from your absence.
Christ is not into emailing, tweeting, Facebooking, Instagramming, Linked-Ining, any more than Christ was into printing presses, mimeograph machines, rotary phones, or IBM Selectrics (although those Selectrics were pretty sweet machines when they came out). Christ is into you: “you in Christ and Christ in you” is our Lord’s one and only Plan A. Period.
All else are mere tools of a moment, as dated as last year’s software and as short-lived as this year’s tradeshow guru. What is eternal, what is of lasting worth, is you. For now, I’ll simply list two foundational elements of your Christ-self we need here to make UBC’s Interim Bridge work. I’ll expand on these in next week’s Word:
Your Faithful and Honest Witness, Shared Responsibly
Your Continuity and Your Creativity
~Your Senior Minister in the Interim,
We are collecting contributions for National Missions, with a goal of $4,000. To date we have collected $660.
UBC is again designating our offering to the work of Paula Settle, CBF Associate in Nada, Kentucky. This area is one of our nation’s 20 “pockets of poverty” identified by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship over a decade ago.
The offering this year is being focused on helping a couple in Owsley County who are living in a one-room shed. They have no running water, no bathroom, no refrigerator, and only one electrical outlet that works.
For more information about Paula Settle’s work through the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, go to www.cbf.net/Missions/Field-personnel/Settle/
Sermon: “Little Sabbath, Big Sabbath/Old Temple, No Temple” – Rev. Gary Dalton.
Scripture: John 5:1-11
My article last week about interim ministry spun off the metaphor I found in a photo taken when Karen and I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. Today, I’d like to offer a few more details, beginning with my ministry title.
Senior Minister in the Interim. Prior to your calling me, you probably heard my position described as “Interim Senior Minister”. That straightforward description carries different connotations, depending on your prior experiences with such folk. “Consultant” may be foremost in many peoples’ minds. Certainly, “interim” emphasizes the temporary nature of my calling to University Baptist Church. So, you may wonder, why the change-up in word order?
What’s gained in reworking the title is this. “Senior Minister in the Interim” puts first what I understand my principle work with you to be. Above anything else you expect of me, you should expect me to be your Pastor. A congregation needs someone whom God has gifted and called to care for them, extending comfort to those in crisis, encouraging its members each to follow our Lord, preaching and teaching from the Bible the truths God revealed and worked out, foremost in the ministry of Jesus Christ.
With your shared faithful witness, University Baptist Church will offer our surrounding community a clearer sign of God’s beckoning love. For however long the Lord may extend this grace to me, I seek to share this witness as your Pastor.
“Help me help you! Help me help you!” (Sorry, but I couldn’t resist.) These lines are an almost-cliché exchange in many a drama and comedy. Essentially, it means, tell me what you need to be your best, and I’ll do whatever I can to help you get it. Now we’re moving more to the consultant-share of my ministry title.
My agenda is no agenda. Instead, I rely on you to let me know what University Baptist Church needs over these months to best prepare for calling your next permanent Senior Minister. Organizationally, I will rely on the Leadership Transition Team and the Deacons to interpret for me what all those interim tasks should be. I will look to the Church Council and other standing committees to offer their assessments of what needs to happen. I encourage you personally to let me know what you yourself think should happen in the interim.
My agenda is no agenda, but…I do not come to you as a blank slate, wiped clean of all ideas about what should go on in a Baptist church. I am full of assumptions, formed by nearly 61 years of Baptistification and 32 years of ordained Baptist ministry, plus a healthy cross-pollination of other influences of varying degrees of pedigree. I will do my level best to channel all my Baptist stuff along the furrows you’re already plowing and never work crossways to the direction in which the Spirit of Christ is leading you.
Happily, your Senior Minister in the Interim,
Sermon: “A Bit of Undigested Beef. A Fragment of Underdone Potato” – Rev. Gary Dalton.
Scripture: Acts 11:1-18
A bridge across is the best way I can describe what this interim time is about. This photograph is one I took of the Brooklyn Bridge in 2012 when Karen and I visited our daughter, Emily, now a five-year Brooklynite. While Emily worked on this particularly fine September afternoon, Karen and I walked the Brooklyn Bridge across the East River, from the Brooklyn side over to Manhattan (thence by taxi to meet up with Em). With the Brooklyn Bridge as my metaphor, I’ll offer these observations as we begin our time as Interim Pastor and Congregation.
Similar, but not the same. Google-search “photos of the Brooklyn Bridge,” and you will turn up pictures bearing a remarkable resemblance to this one I took. That’s because this spot offers an iconic view of the Bridge…the double grand arches with the U.S. flag posted atop, the quaint lamppost, the merging perspective of the bridge-cables, the new Freedom Tower off to the left. But, they’re not the same photos, at least not to Karen and me. This photo records when we ourselves stood on this spot, taking in the panorama, and when we walked the Bridge over the East River. This photo recalls for us a special visit with our daughter, as she guided us around the Big Apple. No one else’s Brooklyn Bridge photo does that.
We at University Baptist Church will travel the Bridge across these interim months in a way very similar to the one many other congregations have traveled before us…similar steps and distance, a successful crossing to the other side, the same sense of accomplishment and readiness for a different mode of travel once we get across. As well-traveled and well-known as the Interim Bridge is, though, it’s not the same for us as for those other churches. This is UBC’s own trip across the Bridge. This will be our experience and not another congregation’s. And we’ll make our way over in the time and manner suited to who we are: similar, but not the same.
No Parking or Camping allowed! Karen and I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. We could, if we had dared, have roller-skated across as others were doing. We could have bicycled across. We could have driven our car or hailed a taxi. Walkers, skaters, and cyclists can go the pace that works for them, taking in the scenes as they go. Drivers go with the flow of traffic and still get in plenty of good views. However, you can’t pull your car over to the curb and park on the bridge…No Parking allowed! If you’re walking, skating, or pedaling, you can stop and gaze as long as you want, but you can’t pitch a tent and stay put…No Camping allowed!
These months will allow us to catch a view of church life that we can’t get from either start or finish. These perspectives only come as we cross the Bridge, and they can be something marvelous to experience. But, let’s be clear as we head out across Interim Bridge…No Parking and No Camping allowed! We’ll take our time as we need and want, we’ll linger only to see what we can see, and then we move along to the other end of the Bridge, there to join up with whomever will be your next Senior Pastor.
It will be my great pleasure and privilege to cross the Interim Bridge with you. Thanks for the invitation!
During April we are collecting contributions for National Missions. Our goal is $4000.
The WMU is again focusing its emphasis on the CBF missions activities of Paula Settle in Nada, Kentucky, who ministers to two of the poorest counties in our country.
Sermon: “A Double-Grip Guarantee” – Rev. Gary Dalton
Scripture: John 10:22-30
Following the congregation’s approval on March 16 to call a part-time Interim Minister, the Leadership Transition Team, in conjunction with the Personnel Committee and with input from ministers and staff, has conducted a thorough search and has found an excellent minister that it would like to recommend to the congregation to help manage the transition period at UBC: Rev. Gary Dalton.
Rev. Dalton has recently completed a successful interim ministry at Grace Baptist Church in Richmond. He was the Senior Pastor for eight years at Belmont Baptist Church in Charlottesville. Gary holds a Master of Divinity from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY, and has completed interim ministry training offered by the Center for Congregational Health.
The LTT and the Personnel Committee feel that Rev. Dalton’s education, experience, and background are a strong match for what our church needs right now in support of its worship, fellowship, and pastoral care ministries. Likewise, we feel that Rev. Dalton’s expertise in the areas of church leadership and transition management will be invaluable for UBC as we all continue to discern the next stage that God has planned for our church. Click here or contact the church office to see a copy of Rev. Dalton’s resumé.
On Sunday, April 3, this recommendation was affirmed by the Deacons and Church Council and announced to the congregation following the worship service. This recommendation will be presented to the congregation for their approval during a Called Church Conference on Wednesday, April 13, from 5:45 to 6:15 pm.
We ask that you prayerfully consider this recommendation. We also invite you to contact any members of the LTT or Personnel Committee if you have questions or comments that you’d like to share. Thank you, and God bless!
—Brent Wilson, LTT Chair