By Dave Wilson
Following a lot of work by the Transition Team and the Call Committee, the Church Council has also been busy with a major undertaking in the life of Prince of Peace. The calling of Pastor Emily Kuenker is now official and all of us are looking forward to the Installation Service and her time with us as our Pastor. This got me thinking about how many total pastors I have had in the churches I’ve attended. When I was a kid, we had the same pastor until I was 8 and then we moved. In the church we went to after moving, we had the same pastor until I went away to college 10 years later and he was eventually there for more than 20 years. (My brother has been a pastor in the same church in St. Louis for about 25 years.) I was amazed when I began attending Methodist churches with Lesa that they changed pastors approximately every 3 to 4 years and the congregation had no say in who came as pastor and when they left. In approximately the last 35 years, Emily will be the tenth pastor at the churches we have attended. Different denominations approach this differently. There seems to be more rapid transition in pastors in some denominations than there used to be, while some others often have pastors who spend most of their working life in one church or maybe two. To me, there are advantages and disadvantages to both ways of doing things; I don’t think either having one pastor for many years or having multiple pastors for shorter time intervals represents a choice between “good or bad”.
Prince of Peace has some challenges and some opportunities at this time that coincides with the coming of Pastor Emily. Not that many years ago we often had more than 100 people attend on Sundays and did many community activities that we don’t really have enough members for now, and we had 20 or more Sunday school students from toddlers to high school age, with an active Confirmation and Youth Group program. Like many churches, we now have few families with children attending. There are many societal theories about this, but the short version is that following a major secular crisis that follows a major depression (2008) by approximately 12 years, we are due very soon for a rebirth of institutions in the U.S. after emerging from that crisis (we don’t know exactly what that crisis is yet, but speculation abounds). What the institutions will look like will be shaped by the Civic generation born between 1982 and 2004. The previous Civic generation was the World War II generation born between 1902 and 1924, and the two previous Civic generations before those won the Civil War and the American Revolution. Religion in general and Christianity in particular will certainly be different as their generation continues to take power, if history since 1584 in North America is any guide. Hopefully the fundamental values of the Carpenter from Nazareth will continue to be important in society. I interact with many Civic generation people every day at USU. I see them graduate from veterinary school and adjust to working life and often family life as time passes since they graduated. It seems to me that they do indeed largely have a belief system that is altruistic and oriented toward doing the right thing including for the less fortunate. How all of our society adapts to that, and how Christianity fits with their values will be a major adventure of the 2020’s and have a lot to say about the course of the rest of the 21st century. Pastor Emily will be coming to us precisely at a momentous time for all, and what happens will certainly not be up to her alone. We will all be in it together.
This blog is run by the council members of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Logan, UT. For more information, check out our church's website at princeopeace.org.