Dear Partners in Ministry,
Itís difficult to list all of the advantages that have come from our venture in cooperative ministry. There have been so many. One unexpected benefit is now producing a special kind of fruit and it calls for a celebration.
Who would have thought that, by pulling together in ministry, we would be able to provide a rich and varied training ground for someone preparing for the ordained ministry? None of our congregations individually would have been able to host an intern but together we could and we did. What a privilege it has been to participate in nurturing a future pastor for the church!!
Itís hard to believe that just a little over two years ago we welcomed Vicar Melba Dibble to our Pastoral Team. She came to us full of enthusiasm for this adventure in cooperative ministry our six congregations were undertaking. That enthusiasm was a good thing since she had to step right into the role of worship leader for two services each Sunday. Vicar Melba spent a year getting to know us and the TEEM (Theological Education for Emerging Ministries) path to ordination. She worked with all of our congregations while taking courses at the Lutheran Seminary at Gettysburg and doing her Clinical Pastoral Education, all required for ordination as a pastor. Her second year was her official year of internship when she worked with a Lay Internship Committee made up of members from each of what were now seven congregations along with two supervising pastors. She took as a home base, Trinity Lutheran Church in Mt. Oliver, so that she would have an in depth experience with the administrative end of congregational ministry. She planned and executed two retreats for the members of our PLUM congregations. All this she did while finishing her theological studies at Gettysburg and completing the paper work (read that written exams) for the members of the Candidacy Committee of the Church whose approval she would need for ordination.
At the October meeting of the PLUM Board our members, in anticipation of Vicar Melbaís approval by the Candidacy Committee, voted on a 2012 budget that would include meeting minimum salary requirements for a first year pastor. The stage was being set to move ahead on plans to extend to Melba her first call as pastor.
As of the successful completion of her meeting with the Candidacy Committee on October 10, our Vicar is now a Candidate for Ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She will be assigned on November 2 to the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod for call. The Bishopís office has directed that each of the PLUM congregations vote to call her as pastor at special congregational meetings to be held between November 3 and Christmas. (Watch for the announcement of the date for our congregationís Special Congregational Meeting!!) Once those votes are taken and the desire to call is affirmed, the PLUM Board will extend a call to Melba to join our Pastoral Team as a full-fledged, full-time pastor. Should all this go as planned, (and we are praying it will!) Melbaís ordination service will take place on Saturday, January 29, 2012. She has chosen to hold that special event at one of the PLUM congregations, Trinity Lutheran, Mt. Oliver, instead of her home congregation. Not only is this an honor for us but it is an indication of her commitment to PLUM. What a day of celebration that will be!!
As Pastor John and I have walked with Vicar Melba through these past two years we have been impressed, not only by her personal growth and dedication, but by the support, encouragement and assistance provided to her by the members of our congregations. If PLUM was a great educational experience for Melba, Melba was a great experience for PLUM. It is no exaggeration to say that being a part of the process of training up and preparing a person for the pastoral ministry has been beneficial for all concerned.
One of the final requirements during an internship is for both the supervisors and the intern to evaluate the experience. Our Vicar not only wrote on her evaluation but told the Candidacy Committee that she could not have hoped for a better experience than PLUM for her internship. The richness and diversity experienced in the congregations was priceless (and the pastoral supervision wasnít too shabby either!). She highly recommends PLUM as a training ground for future interns!
Congratulations, Melba, and congratulations to the members of Bethany, Bethlehem, Christ, East Liberty, St. Andrew, Trinity, Mt. Oliver and Trinity, Sheraden for a job well done! Last but not least, thank you Lord for the opportunity to experience and then benefit from raising up a new pastor for your church.
Once again we learn that when we engage together in the work of the Lord, blessings abound!!
Grace and peace,
Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM), 405 Kennedy Avenue, Duquesne, PA 15110 412-466-7773