A daughter of our congregation, Sherri Lawrence, recently graduated Luther Seminary and is in the process of finishing up her internship. Soon, Sherri will be entering the Assignment Process, through which she will be assigned by Regional Bishops of the E.L.C.A. to one of the church’s nine regions, one of the church’s sixty two Synods, and ultimately into a Call conversation with a congregation. This process can take some time and leaves graduate Seminarians unemployed in the meanwhile. Unless - and here is where a wonderful opportunity arises - they are able to find work in a congregation.
A few years ago, St. James Lutheran benefited from the ministry of Vicar Andrew Lewis. Andrew graduated seminary, finished his internship, and was in a waiting period before returning to Georgia for ordination. For the better part of a year, he served in a variety of supportive roles that allowed us to close a few of the gaps in our pastoral staffing. I appreciated his gifts, insights, and hard work. In short he was a blessing in many ways. Thinking back on that time, it was a win-win scenario for both Vicar Andrew and St. James. We benefited from his presence and he was able to serve the church that he loved while he waited to be ordained.
A similar, win-win, opportunity, exists with Sherri Lawrence. No stranger to St. James Lutheran, Sherri has been active in many areas of our ministry life together. We have supported her from the early days of discernment as she first heard the Call to become a pastor, to this current day. St. James Lutheran remains Sherri’s home congregation.
Thanks to the action of the Council, it will also be a place of ministry while Sherri is assigned and awaits her Call from a congregation to be their pastor. Starting on August 19, Vicar Sherri Lawrence will serve again on St. James Lutheran staff. Her full-time, vicarage will be paid. Vicar Sherri’s main focus of ministry will be worship planning, confirmation, SPARK (youth ministry) support, and general pastoral support. She will be a visible presence in worship and will also be on preaching rotation.
This comes as a timely blessing for St. James. As we have embarked on a strategic planning process, Vicar Sherri will provide support to my pastoral ministry, allowing me the necessary space for visioning and planning.
Funding for this position comes from a Memorial gift received from the estate of Mavonne Richardson. I regularly say that all ministry is relational. Even in the funding of opportunities such as this vicarage, this bears true. Mavonne, a long-time member of St. James Lutheran, wanted to support ministry that carried on beyond her own life and listed St. James in her will. Mavonne’s mother was Grace Farnquist, who was on our shut-in visitation list when I first started at St. James. Here is where the story gets powerful. Can you guess who was Grace’s Befriender? Sherri Lawrence. Those visits, almost a decade ago, were powerful, relational moments, that God’s Spirit used to help Sherri discern her Call to go to seminary. Now, as Sherri waits for the Call to serve a congregation, Grace - through the generosity of Mavonne - is helping to support her ministry. Seems to me like a full circle of blessings.
As we get closer to August 19, I will share more information about Vicar Sherri and her ministry with us. As always, pass your questions directly to me and I will do my best to answer them. I am aware that we will need to adjust to Vicar Sherri’s new role in our congregation. There may be a little learning curve for us all. That said, I am grateful for this wonderful opportunity to be in ministry with a talented, joy-filled, and passionate servant of Jesus.
I will be heading out of town in the coming days for family vacation, so I won’t see you in worship until Sunday, June 23 and Wednesday, June 26. I am grateful for the support of Pastor Nancy Connor, our Visitation Pastor, who will be preaching, presiding, and providing pastoral presence in my absence.
Through Christ’s Light,