Hazel Run Lutheran Church is a small church located in Hazel Run, MN located in Yellow Medicine County. Hazel Run, MN is approximately 36 miles north of Marshall, MN. According to the 2014 census, the population is 61. The average attendance at Hazel Run Lutheran Church is 40. Of course, we as pastors understand that the attendance is not the focus.
HRLC was looking for somebody to fill the pulpit and supply worship service leadership in July 2016. They asked for help from the Institute of Lutheran Theology where I started attending in the fall of 2016. Because of the distance from Brookings, SD, it was not very practical.
After two semesters at the ILT, it was time to look towards an internship. Hazel Run Lutheran Church was still looking for a pastor. Because of the initial conversation in the fall of 2016, there was an opportunity to meet and further a relationship. This worked out very well for both parties in the end. To get the internship requirement that the Augustana District and ILT require, paired with the number of congregations without a preacher, some new designs and ideas need to be implemented.
In my case, the Institute of Lutheran Theology is online which allows distance learning through available technology. This allows me to attend seminary while attending to the sheep of the fold in Hazel Run, MN. This solves the problem of serving and education, but what about a mentor for internship requirements?
In this case, Living Word in Marshall, MN has offered to be a mentor to an intern of Hazel Run, MN. Yes, there is some distance that needs to be traveled. Yes, there are going to be hiccups along the road. But we designed a syllabus that allows communication and participation between both places. The best part, we get to bridge a partnership between two locations that are one body in Christ.
With the country churches looking for a preacher and unable to find seminarians willing to take a call in rural churches, with seminarians that are looking for an internship, and fewer churches willing to take on the extra financial burden, new creative ways are needed.
What does this look like in action? Well, I will have to get back to you on this one. It is experimental for both churches and the people involved. As always, we know that God will make sure that the sheep will have a shepherd. God always hears the cries of His children, and will always work to provide one. In my case, I will participate in services at Living Word once per month, and attend a Bible study with Living Word. The two-way communication and relationship is truly a way to support and pastor to those that need a preacher. We all need a preacher! So let’s be creative and rely on the Word that gives forgiveness and new creation.
Do you know of a church that has implemented a Creative Calling? Please let us know about it so that we can share your ideas by contacting Randy Freund at .
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