I write this article on a date in early December. It seems strange to be thinking about January, 2020, when we haven’t celebrated Christmas of 2019. However, here are some of my thoughts regarding the year yet to come.
Every once in a while someone will greet me with the question: “So what’s new?” I never know how to respond to that inquiry. So, it becomes an awkward moment as I try to think of something that is new in my life that would be of interest to the person asking the question. In that moment, I have a hard time scanning my brain for something new and so my usual response is, “Not much, how about you?”
Why do I find it so difficult to think of something new when asked? First of all, I don’t go through the daily activities of life thinking, “Now that’s something new that I can share with the next person who asks me!” Does it matter that I got a new pillow, or a new pair of shoes, or a new shipment of filters for my HVAC system? Most things that are new in daily life are relatively insignificant and not particularly newsworthy.
However, there are significant things that are new every day. Each morning brings a new day of life. Each day brings new opportunities to appreciate the wonders of creation, to give thanks and praise to God, and to serve others. Each evening offers a new opportunity to reflect upon the day and recognize the many ways moments in which we have been blessed by God.
On a personal level, it is my intention to retire in June of 2020. I will turn 66 and will have served the church as an ordained minister for 38 of those years. Mary and I plan to travel, reconnect with friends, and find other ways to live a meaningful and rewarding life in retirement. As I near this new phase in life, I find myself with mixed emotions. I am excited for the new experiences and opportunities that retirement will bring. Yet I am also anxious, because being a pastor has been my primary identity since I was 28 years old. What will my identity be after I retire?
2020 will also bring something new to you as members and friends of St. Mark’s. There will be a new person serving you as minister at the beginning of June. His name is Colin Cranmer and he will begin his ministry at St. Mark’s as an Intern & Synodically Authorized Minister. This arrangement is something relatively new in the ELCA.
It gives a candidate for ordination who has completed the required academic work, but has not completed the requirement of an internship, the opportunity to serve a congregation as an Intern while they are still in the learning process. The Synodically Authorized Minister status allows them to function in the same manner as an ordained minister, including administering the sacraments. The thinking is that following the completion of the Internship, the congregation will consider extending a call to serve as an ordained minister.
Colin’s internship supervisor will be Pastor Mark Borgetti from Joy! Lutheran Church in Gurnee. He will also meet regularly with a new Internship Committee to receive feedback and recommendations. That Committee will be appointed by the Church Council in January. I have also offered to assist Colin in a time of transition and to serve as a mentor to him and I look forward to that new role for me.
So 2020 will bring new experiences, relationships and opportunities to my life. The same will be true for you as members and friends of St. Marks. Let us embrace the newness. Thanks be to God!
Rev. Dennis Kelly, Interim Minister