The ELCA has an expectation that all pastors and deacons participate in First Call Theological Education for the first three years of this rostered ministry. Here in NT-NL, we call it Accompaniment because our focus is more on helping our new pastors to develop healthy habits and relationships as they live into this new identity as pastors.Our most recent retreat focused on Mission Support and stewardship. Thanks to the use of Zoom, we were able to have participation by both an ELCA rep for Mission Support as well as one of our first call pastors who lives far from the Metroplex.
We also spent the afternoon with the NT-NL stewardship team, who even managed to include Leslie on Zoom for the projects and discussion.
When I first began on synod staff we had five first call pastors who were all nearing the tail end of their three year requirement. For a while we were down to one. Thanks to several of our candidates reaching the point of ordination through TEEM and other seminary programs, a few who were assigned to us through the ELCA process, and two who moved here due to spouses jobs, we are now up to 11 first call pastors in our synod.
In addition, we have two more expected by our fall retreat and a few more who should be finishing TEEM by next spring. In a year, our numbers should be between 15-18 in this group. This is a tremendous blessing as our congregations have raised up and helped to prepare so many new pastors. Other congregations have taken on the responsibility of calling new pastors to serve them. One year from now, close to one/fifth of our congregations will be served by first call pastors. I think that may be some kind of record. I pray that this burst of renewal overflows in even more ways!