Transition Statement and Timeline
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church has a wonderful legacy with the Western North Dakota Synod. Our founding pastor, Rev. Robert Lynne, was the first bishop elected to the WND Synod when the ELCA was formed in 1988. Thirty-two years later, Senior Pastor Rev. Craig Schweitzer has been called to serve the church as Synod Bishop.
Pastor Craig’s election as Synod Bishop took place on July 17 and he will officially assume the post on August 17. A summary of the Synod Assembly is available here (https://wndsynod.org/synod-assembly/).
Our church is taking a big step into the future: we are forming a call committee to find our next senior pastor. This is a very exciting process of prayerfully discerning God’s will for our church. The church council will be selecting a small group to be on the committee.
Their task will include several important steps. First, they will create a profile of who we are as a church and what our goals are. Next, they will develop a description of the qualities and gifts we seek in our next leader. Then we will be working with the synod office to identify potential candidates. Finally, we will be interviewing people and making a final recommendation to be voted on by the congregation.
Throughout the process we will be guided by the Western North Dakota Synod staff. We will do our best to keep your informed of the process and to seek your input. There is no fixed time frame for completion. It will end when we are confident we have the right person.
This is a holy time in the life of our church. Please hold our church in your prayers so that we may be guided to the person God has in mind for our future.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How does it impact GSLC to have Pastor Craig elected as Synod Bishop?
A: Pastor Craig will leave his call at GSLC to take a new call as Synod Bishop. This will result in a new search for a senior pastor of GSLC. We hope to have an interim senior pastor in place soon and feel confident in the staff of GSLC to smoothly handle this transition.
Q: What is the timeline for this transition?
A: Pastor Craig will continue to actively serve GSLC until August 14. On August 17 he will begin serving as Bishop. Installation is tentatively scheduled for November 1. He will be able to fulfill previously scheduled weddings. Day-to-day ministry and projects will transition to Pastor Bob, Pastor Julie and the staff of GSLC. Pastor Craig’s final sermon will take place on August 29, 30 and September 2.
Q: What will this mean for the staff of GSLC?
A: Hold our Good Shepherd team in prayer, as they juggle worship services, meetings, projects, congregational care and more in this transition. The Church Council will need to determine if, when and how we will enter a call process for a new pastor.
Q: What does this mean for the congregation of GSLC?
A: We carry on in our mission to share the Shepherd’s love with all of God’s children and are reminded at this time that WE are the church. Through transition and pandemic, we hold fast to our core values and guide the church through change.
Q: What does this election mean in terms of our Long-Range Facility Growth and other initiatives, goals and projects?
A: The work being done regarding our long-range planning and mission and vision is done as the Holy Spirit works through the people of GSLC. We empower our committees to continuing using their passion to drive the future direction of GSLC.
Q: Are there any financial implications to GSLC?
A: Good Shepherd is not financially obligated for the transition of a pastor to synod bishop and an interim pastor would have salary expectations which are already budgeted for. Down the road, there could be expenses for a call committee.
Q: Is it possible for Pastor Craig to take a leave of absence and return to GSLC.
A: While none of us know God’s plan for us, the term of a Synod Bishop is six years, so a leave of absence would not be practical or in the best interest of GSLC.