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On collegiality

13October2011

I moved from Ohio to Oklahoma two months ago.  In Ohio I had an amazing support system of colleagues.  For a while I attended a weekly study of the upcoming Sunday’s texts.  I went once a month to conference meetings and once a month to cluster meetings and once a month to a meeting of the town’s clergy.  I was a two hour drive from the synod office and the assistant to the bishop for my area lived slightly more than an hour away.  Additionally I was an active member of the Association of Confession Lutherans in Ohio.  All kinds of contact, support, and accountability were available to me.

Now I’m in Oklahoma.

While Lutherans are not quite as dense (rim shot!) in Ohio as they are in those states ending in “ota”, Lutherans are prevalent.  In Oklahoma, on the other hand, Lutherans are more scarce.  There are more Missouri Synod Lutherans around my new community than in Darke County, Ohio, but we Lutherans are hardly an imposing force on the religious landscape of Oklahoma.

Where do I find accountability, collegiality, brothers and sisters in Christ who are also ordained who know the ins and outs of parish ministry?  That is my quest(ion).

Although we knew that no local clergy would be able to attend my installation in September because I was installed on a Sunday morning, I was somewhat surprised that no contact had been made by my fellow clergy.  Only one person, the senior pastor of a local Presbyterian congregation, sent any response (a wonderful postcard with a hand written note).  I have been remiss in following up, though today I finally sent an e-mail to him requesting some together.

None of this would likely have been on my mind except that a few days ago I attended an informational meeting about a Christian counseling center in our community.  At that meeting there were about seven (give or take one or two) clergy.  We all introduced ourselves, and a few said welcome, but beyond that… nothing.  Not even empty platitudes.  No exchange of business cards.  Nothing.

I realize that I know how to work a telephone, write letters/postcards, and e-mail, and thus bear as much responsibility as the other clergy in this community.  My fear is that as a NALC pastor in Oklahoma (the only one in the entire state) I am too conservative for the ELCA clergy and too liberal for the LCMS clergy.  I tend toward the Catholic end of the Lutheran spectrum, so that makes me quite the weirdo out here in Baptist-evangelical land.  Here’s to hoping that my e-mail to the Presbyterian fellow bears fruit, because at times I feel as though I’m starving…

In what ways do you foster collegiality among congregations in your community?  Who reached out to you when you needed it -or- when did you reach out to someone?

KMF@CCD

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. 13October2011 20:36

    In your starvation, Christ will feed you Keith. . . and you always have us on FB, CCD etc. Blessings!

  2. Jan Campbell permalink
    14October2011 08:56

    In my small town, although we had an active ministerial alliance, the only local pastor who attended both my installation dinner and my retirement dinner was the town’s “outcaste” Baptist minister. Go figure.

    The STS Guadalupe River Chapter retreat is not far off, Keith. There you will find a warm welcome and food for the soul.

    Jan

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