Covenant of Expectations for Departing Pastoral Staff

 In Featured, Transition Blog

by Barb Peterson

Throughout the years, Prince of Peace has been served by many beloved pastors. Some have retired and moved away. Still others have accepted new calls to new congregations. But what happens when a pastor retires and stays in the area? How do we maintain relationship, or do we? How do we protect the departing pastor’s time and privacy, as well as allow incoming pastors to establish leadership without interference? It was questions like these that prompted our Board of Directors to establish a Covenant of Expectations for Departing Pastoral Staff. The Covenant seeks to create clear guidelines and boundaries for both departing staff and the congregation. While not an enforceable policy, the Boards ask that in good faith both departing pastors and members of the congregation abide by this covenant for the well-being of both staff and our ministry.

Barb Peterson is the President of the Prince of Peace Board of Directors 

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  • Norma Vig

    Is the Covenant of Expectations for departing pastoral staff going to be made available to the congregation? I found it on the website, but not all members access it.
    I find it strange that this is determined to be necessary. It’s more like a “covenant not to compete” used by businesses. I’m especially disturbed by the Expectation that the departing pastor and his family are not allowed to attend worship services or even enter the building. If a pastor is retiring, why should he/she be barred from attending services? It’s like you believe a retired pastor is a threat. To me this covenant is very UNCHRISTIAN. I think it’s anticipating a threat that doesn’t exist.

    • Pastor Jeff Marian

      Hi Norma,

      Thanks so much for reading the Covenant of Expectations and for taking the time to share your thoughts. In an upcoming edition of the Weekly Update this document will be made more broadly available to the congretation.

      I participated with our Board of Directors in developing this Covenant. I’d like to offer a different perspective on why I think it’s important. For context, the official policy of our denomination (ELCA) is that retiring pastoral staff will join another ELCA congregation and not return to a congregation that they have served, ever. From that perspective, our Covenant is far more lenient. For pastors who leave to accept another call in another congregation, this isn’t much of an issue. But that doesn’t answer the question as to why the policy is necessary at all.

      My absence for a full year allows the congregation to “let go” of our relationship as pastor/parishioners and gives the new lead pastor an opportunity to establish relationship, leadership and trust without interference. It’s simply harder for people to let go of the past when the past leader is present, no matter how committed I am to not interferring. Unfortunately, I’m aware of many stories in other congregations in which an outgoing pastor just couldn’t help themselves from interfering in the next pastor’s work, and that is so destructive to a congregation’s life.

      I love Prince of Peace and the people I’ve been privileged to serve these past 15 years. And I sincerely hope to return as a “regular” member after a year’s absence. And I hope and pray that by that time, the new lead pastor will have gotten firmly established in leadership, and I’ll look forward to cheering them on!

      Peace to you,
      Pastor Jeff

  • Barb Peterson

    Norma Vig,
    Thank you for taking the time to express your opinions about the Covenant of Expectations. We appreciate and take seriously any and all feedback. Jeff has expressed perfectly the reasons and needs for such a document. I can assure you that each of us on the Board prayerfully considered what would be best for Jeff in his retirement along with what would honor and welcome our new Lead Pastor.
    If you would like to have further conversation, please feel free to contact me at any time.
    Barb Peterson
    Board President

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