The ELCA requires pastors and deacons in their first three years of call to participate in what is called First Call Theological Education. Here in our three Texas synods we have tweaked that to become First Call Accompaniment because we see it as more about growing into this new identity than about additional theological education. Last week, our three synods joined together for our annual combined fall retreat at Lutherhill in La Grange. It was our first in person retreat together since 2019.
We began our time together in worship, led by our host synod staff, Bishop Mike Rinehart and his Associate Tracey Breashears Schultz. It was a joy to be fed with word and sacrament before we were fed with learning opportunities.
Throughout the retreat we addressed the topics of pastoral care, stewardship and budgets, the Lutheran Foundation of the Southwest, and putting together a checklist for first call pastors to start working on from day one in their new call.
But for me personally, my favorite times were the opportunities for our NT-NL group to meet for our synod time along with the devotions and worship. These days are good for my spirit as I connect with our awesome first call pastors!