Dear Partners in Ministry,
Wow! What an interesting time to be a part of Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM)!
It’s hard to believe that it has been just been 16 months since we celebrated Pastor Beth’s retirement, followed by Pastor Melba’s announcement that she was looking at a new opportunity with a different pace, giving her more time to be a mother of a teenager and grandma to her ever-expanding tribe of munchkins. Pastor Jocelyn had not yet stepped into our frying pan, blessing us with her ministry for a year as a transitional interim pastor. Vicar Brenda was not yet our intern and was just starting her Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at the VA Hospital. Vicar Sue was just completing her second year of seminary at Luther Seminary long distance education and our new intern, Vicar Mandy, was not even on our radar.
Everything seemed to be going along well. Pastor Martin was willing to step up as needed. Pastors Paul and Liz were doing their stellar ministries in our midst.
East liberty Lutheran Church was just getting their contract for the sale of their building. Trinity Lutheran Church, Sheraden was exploring new opportunities for ministry and looking for best options on what to do with their building. We hadn’t done our first PLUM-wide “Rise against Hunger” Event. Our two preschools, one at Lutheran Church of Our Savior in N. Huntingdon, and one at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Oakdale, were in the process of changing their leadership. A lot of significant activity, not to mention the “normal” busyness of 10 churches’ ministries.
It is here that last week’s lectionary narrative strikes home to me. Here’s Abraham and Sarah, the patriarchs of our faith, entertaining strangers who remind them of God’s promise to them made years before. Sarah’s response is a muffled “laugh,” “yeah, right.”
It was just about 16 years ago when Pastor Beth came to me and said, “John, how do we stabilize our churches so they will outlive us?” And on that premise PLUM, as a Cooperative Ministry, came to be. And it could not have happened without the willingness to explore and try and adapt and modify and be the body of Christ that each of you has helped us to be. We are at our best when we are the body of Christ working together, sharing to the best of our abilities each other’s burdens and, most importantly, sharing in the spreading of His gospel. And I am so excited about our future, because I know we’ve watched God bless us every step of the way in our past. The team that’s evolving around us, with the call vote in each of our congregations on October 6 of Vicar Brenda Henry to be one of our pastors, is but the next step in our evolution to be the best we can be.
I can’t tell you how many times Pastors Beth, Paul, and I have stood in the privacy of our “tents,” either individually or collectively, when we’ve heard ideas from you folks or our own brainstorms and “laughed” to ourselves and said “yeah, right,” only to allow God and his power and grace to fulfill his promises to us and bring us to where we are today. Our current pastoral team, as we gather around the table, has changed dramatically. Pastor Paul and I, along with Vicar Brenda, Vicar Mandy, and soon to be Vicar Sue, have the potential of providing some awesome leadership for our churches, as we look to the future and take our next steps.
I know, technically, it’s premature, but please mark your calendars for November 3, which is all Saints’ Sunday, for the installation and ordination of Vicar Brenda to be our pastor. The service will be held at Christ Lutheran Church at 3 PM and everyone’s welcome.
In Christ’s Service,
Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM), 405 Kennedy Avenue, Duquesne, PA 15110 412-466-7773