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Pastoral Transition: Next Steps

On September 21, 2018, the council and call committee announced their unanimous recommendation that the congregation call Pastor Erin Coleman Branchaud to be St. Luke’s next pastor! Pastor Erin served as a fulltime intern at St. Luke’s during 2016-17, and as a part-time pastoral resident over the past year. In addition to frequently preaching and participating in worship, Pastor Erin has led or been actively involved in many ministries at St. Luke’s over the past two years, including visitor welcome and outreach, public faith trainings, the March to Springfield, and the campaign to bring a mental health center to the Logan Square neighborhood, among others. Pastor Erin completed her master of divinity degree at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago this past spring.

Members and friends of the congregation will have the opportunity to discuss the future of the congregation with Pastor Erin on Sunday, September 30 at 10:15 a.m. between the two worship services. Sunday school will be canceled, and childcare provided during this time. Members of the congregation should then attend the congregational meeting on Sunday, October 21 at 9 a.m. at which the congregation will vote whether to call Pastor Erin. The meeting will be followed by a single worship at 10:30 a.m. Sunday school will be canceled that day, and child care will be provided during the meeting.

The call process began earlier this year with the council and call committee collaborating on creation of a Ministry Site Profile document to announce our pastoral vacancy to potential candidates. This announcement was publicized through the Synod office in early spring. In response, the call committee received applications from seven candidates. After review of the applications, the committee decided to interview three of the candidates, including Pastor Erin. The committee conducted second round interviews with Pastor Erin and one other candidate, before ultimately determining that Pastor Erin would be the right candidate to lead St. Luke’s into its next chapter.

The call committee engaged in much deliberation and discernment regarding the characteristics we hoped to find in St. Luke’s next pastor. This involved serious discussion about what qualities and abilities were most important. We did not always agree. We were also highly conscious of the need to fairly consider each candidate. This required examination and awareness of our own biases and assumptions about what a pastor should be, and how those preconceived notions affected our evaluations of each candidate. It was not always easy to admit what we discovered. The committee found the process challenging, but rewarding, and it left the committee with great confidence in its decision. The committee’s only regret is that the entire congregation could not share in the decision-making process.

In the end, the committee agreed that we wanted to find a strong preacher who could passionately and eloquently teach us every Sunday about what God is doing in and through us. We wanted to find someone who could engage our passion for social justice work and help us understand how that work is theologically grounded. We wanted someone skilled in pastoral care, who seeks to connect with all members of our community and knows how to respond to crises. We wanted someone who deeply cares about our children and will seriously address their Christian education. We wanted someone who will continue our tradition of investing in seminarians and our relationships with neighborhood groups. We wanted someone who will creatively add to the music and artistry of our worship and invite all of us to join in as well. We want a pastor with a vision of leadership for St. Luke’s that inspires us. In all these ways, Pastor Erin fits the bill. The committee and council are excited to recommend her call to the congregation!

This is a momentous occasion in the life of our congregation! We hope all members will be able to make the time to participate in the congregational meeting and vote on Sunday, October 21 at 9 a.m.

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