Pastoral Call Process

Transition Team

  • Launched in April 2022
  • The Transition Team was created by the Bethlehem Council.
  • The Transition Team will create the Ministry Site Profile with input from listening sessions and a ministry assessment survey.

These Transition Team members were commissioned on June 5 (MPLS) and June 12 (MTKA):

  • Andy Kroll, Naomi Staruch, Scott Elton, Nels Thompson, Jennifer Vickerman, Gary Schmidt, Linh Stoebner, Katie Klos, Brian Swanson, Randy Thatcher, Melissa Steen, Katie Anthony, Regina Johnson, and Pastor Vern

Call Committee

  • Anticipated launch late 2022
  • Call Committee is appointed by the Bethlehem Council
  • The Call Committee solicits candidates.

For more information on the process of calling a new pastor, visit the Minneapolis Area Synod’s resources for congregations on their website.

Communication Updates

September 22, 2022 – Ministry Assessment Survey

People of Bethlehem –

The Transition Team is continuing to seek your input on our ministry at Bethlehem. In addition to our Listening Sessions, what follows is an online survey adapted from one regularly used by the Minneapolis Area Synod. It’s intended for congregations in a call process, to get a broad snapshot on how things seem to be going in that ministry setting. The rating scale we are using is from 1 to 4, but explanatory comments are always helpful. The survey can be anonymous, but names are certainly encouraged, especially if you would like to have further conversation about a particular area of ministry.

If you have not been able to attend one of our Listening Sessions, there is also an optional section at the end to provide input on some of the questions that we discuss in the Listening Sessions:

  • What is especially meaningful to you about worship? Is there something you might like us to do differently?
  • Racial issues impact us in a variety of ways. What role do you see for BLCTC in addressing matters of social justice?
  • Are you anxious about anything at Bethlehem?  If so, what?
  • What do you think is a main priority (or two) for our new lead pastor in the first year with us?

Please complete this online survey by October 16.

On behalf of the Transition Team, thanks so much for your help with this. Your feedback will be very valuable in putting together our Ministry Site Profile.

Sincerely,
Pastor Vern

September 20, 2022 – Transition Team is Still Listening

We’re seven months into our pastoral interim. Interims can take time, often more time than we’re expecting. And when they follow a pastor who has died while serving as senior pastor, and then the unexpected departure of co-lead pastors a few years later, the adjustment period might feel even longer. Add in a full-scale pandemic and you can probably see why some interims are called intentional interims.  There’s often a need for careful reflection and conversation before a Call Committee is formed and a new lead pastor is brought on board.

During this time, Bethlehem’s Transition Team has helped guide the process. They’ve been busy listening to a variety of groups, asking strategic questions, and keeping careful notes on what people have been sharing with them. Our Transition Team is hoping to finish up its Listening Sessions by mid-October.  If you want to join a session, there’s still time. In fact, there are two sessions this week. An online session scheduled for tonight at 7:00 pm, and an in person session for parents tomorrow night at 6:30 pm. Please register in advance for these sessions. If those don’t work for you, watch the website for further opportunities. 

There is an additional way to provide feedback as well. A Ministry Assessment Survey will be sent via email this coming Thursday. On a scale of 1–4, you’ll be able to rate how we’re doing in various areas of ministry. We’re also asking for comments to further elaborate one’s perspective. The survey should be able to be completed in approximately 15 minutes.

Once the Listening Sessions and Ministry Assessment Surveys are done, the Transition Team will spend time collating and evaluating what people have been telling them. If there are areas of special concern, they will be discussed with the Church Council.

Finally, when the evaluations are completed, the Transition Team will get busy writing up a Ministry Site Profile. The task is a bit daunting, especially trying to speak for the congregation as a whole. Hopefully the team can get it finished by the end of the year.

What comes next? The information will be shared with the Church Council and the congregation. It will also be shared with the Minneapolis Area Synod. Soon afterward, the council will begin forming a Call Committee. Following that, a list of pastoral candidates will be gathered and interviews will begin.

Your prayers throughout the entire process are greatly appreciated.

Pastor Vern

September 1, 2022

As of September, half a dozen of Transition Team Listening sessions have taken place and more are on the way. Check our weekly communications for upcoming opportunities for conversations. We will also be rolling out a Ministry Evaluation form this month. We want to hear from you!

Here are some of the things that have stood out for me:

Introductory responses:

  • We came to Bethlehem because of life events, and then returned because we were inspired by the experience.
  • We felt people were genuine and caring. Some even remembered our names.
  • Covid has greatly diminished the feeling of community.
  • We like familiar music, but it doesn’t always need to be out of the red book.
  • We want sermons that connect the events of the Bible will real-life events today.

 Some surprises:

  • We have trouble hearing worship at the Minneapolis campus; it makes it tempting to watch it on TV and turn up the volume.
  • The 2-Minute connection is a great opportunity to connect with people – to be reunited with old friends and make some new ones.
  • Immersion into the community surrounding the church is incredibly important. This is the mission field in which God has placed us.
  • We like to hear our own voices and the voices of those around us when we sing. It boosts our confidence to have a strong vocal presence during worship.
  • We need to continue communicating with parents, children, and young adults about what is working for them in living out their faith in daily life.
  • We strive to explore ways to speak to the issues we are facing without being strident. As much as possible, we need Jesus to be our filter.
  • We hope our new lead pastor will be able to able to work with staff and council to make plans around our vision, but then be able to adapt the plan when necessary.
  • A healthy congregational culture at both campuses is pivotal in finding our way forward in today’s world.

 Challenges and Opportunities:

  • In a polarized world, we are convicted by Jesus’ call to love our neighbors as ourselves.
  • It’s important to be guided by the past, but not constrained by it.
  • We are compelled to have honest conversations about the fact that all religious institutions are declining in membership.
  • We look for creative ways to build bridges between Minnetonka and Minneapolis.
  • We need to be transparent about whatever financial challenges we are facing.
  • As much as we appreciate streaming, we continue to need ways to build in-person connections.
  • We commit ourselves to being inclusive. There are all sorts of people out there that need to know they are welcome at BLCTC.

July 7, 2022

Hi People of Bethlehem,

We have an engaging video to share with you today. As we move further along in the call process, the Transition Team has been asking Bethlehem members a question: “What are your hopes and dreams for what Bethlehem can create together?” We enlisted photographer John Noltner to help us in our storytelling. Fifty people volunteered to jot down twenty-five words or less in answer to that question. You’ll likely recognize several of the names and faces.

Find a comfortable chair, an extra nine minutes, and you can watch the video below.  The result is a wonderful testimony to the power of community – with a great variety of thoughts and feelings shared about what we might be and do together.

And just a reminder, starting this Sunday, July 10 at our Minnetonka campus at 10:45 am, the Transition Team will begin the first of several Listening Sessions aimed at exploring our hopes and dreams for Bethlehem, and a whole lot more. We’ll be having these sessions throughout the summer and into the fall. Join us when you can. We want to hear from you!

Pastor Vern

May 26, 2022 – Call Process Update from Pastor Vern

People of Bethlehem,

I write to you with an update on the call process. In today’s busy, complicated world, call processes normally take several months or more. Gone are the days when the synod would send along a few names, a call committee would take a look at a couple of promising candidates, and a leader would quickly emerge.

 The process often looks more like this:

  1. A Transition Team is formed by the Church Council. Its focus includes:
  • Spending lots of time listening to the hopes and dreams of parishioners.
  • Encouraging others to fill out ministry assessments of existing programs.
  • Inviting folks to join 10-15 others to discuss concerns and ask questions,
  • Updating and sharing findings along the way.
  • Discerning what the congregation wants and needs in a new leader.
  1. The Transition Team writes a Ministry Site Profile that is used by the synod and leaders at Bethlehem to share with prospective candidates.
  2. The Church Council forms a Call Committee, interviews are scheduled, and the discernment process continues.

As we come to the end of May, we have just about finished forming our Transition Team. Great care has gone into making the team representative of Bethlehem as a whole. We hope to commission the team on Pentecost Sunday, June 5 at the 10:15 am service in Minneapolis, and then follow this up with a commissioning at Minnetonka on June 12.

Please surround this team with your support, encouragement, and prayers. Names, pictures, and more information will be coming soon.

Grateful for your partnership in the process,

Pastor Vern

March 17, 2022 – Update from Congregation President

Dear Siblings in Christ,

As we enter Lent this year, in a season of transition, I’m challenging myself to try listening a bit differently. In these 40 days, I’m focusing on the renewal and rousing that this time of preparation brings.  This year, Lent feels like a well-timed gift for Bethlehem.  Lent is a season of transition, bridging the anticipation and joy of Advent and Christmas to the pain of Good Friday, and ultimately, the hope of Easter.  Bethlehem is in a time of listening and of transitioning to where the Hold Spirit is calling us.  In this time, I encourage us to be intentional in listening – to God, to our neighbors, and to each other.   As you reflect, think about what has kept you connected and engaged with this particular community of faith?  What opportunities do you see Bethlehem, and you, uniquely able to deliver?  How can you strengthen and grow this community – as one community?

Your Council moved its meeting up to the first week this month, and under the leadership of Pastor Vern, began conversation on a transition plan. Additionally, we initiated the work of forming a Transition Team and will have updates located on the BLCTC website. When complete, this transition team will consist of representatives from across Bethlehem and will serve to lead and facilitate conversation and listening sessions to help put our collective hopes and dreams to paper. The Transition Team will likely do some work around capturing demographics and data points in the form of a Congregational profile. Lastly, their work will prepare and inform the Call Committee when it is appointed by the Council in several months. I encourage you to visit the site now and watch part of my message from a few weeks ago at the annual meeting.

As we begin this work together, please hear the invitation of your Pastors, Staff, and Council to join in the work ahead. If you are considering returning to our campuses (or waiting for an invitation), to engage in person, please do! You’re welcome and we look forward to seeing you. If you prefer to be online and are unable (or still uncomfortable) to join us in person, you too are welcome – and are fully members of this community and body. In-person or remote, I look forward to your engagement and how we continue to be knit together to execute on the amazing work that God’s Spirit is leading us to. As Christ is the head of this church across time and space, we remain one community across campuses, zip codes, and pews; with as yet unknown members and communities waiting to join us in God’s work!

With Gratitude,

John Helberg
Council President

But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. – Ephesians 4:15-16

February 27, 2002 – Congregation President Annual Meeting Update

“How will we, as God’s church, respond to the challenges of this time? Will we lead or will we lay low? Will we confess or will we concede to the crowd? Will Bethlehem stand up and model a different way for a culture that has made being right sacred?”