Fieldwork: a practical and hands-on experience for seminarians at a local congregation to be completed while attending classes.
Fieldwork is meant to be beneficial to both the seminarian (and his family) as well as the host congregation. Despite any feelings that Timothy or I expressed about our placement, we have stepped into this environment. To explain this, I need to give you all a profile of our congregation. Keep in mind that this is my impression after two weeks of attendance.
Our Savior Lutheran Church in Fenton MO is a congregation in search of a leader. Pastor Etherton stepped down in May of 2011 and they are in the call process under the leadership of Interim Pastor Foss. The church celebrated its 50th anniversary on Sunday September 9, 2012, which Timothy and I were fortunate enough to take part in all the festivities. The congregation is in desperate need of leadership. This is not a judgment on Pastor Foss' abilities. The congregation simply needs someone to take a vested interest in the them. They need someone who is in ministry with them for the long hall. In the meantime, congregational focus has turned inward. Members are focusing on their relationships with each other. This is not a bad thing. This is necessary for a congregation to pull through a rough time. However, this does pose a problem for visitors (or new fieldworkers) seeking to become integrated in the congregation. The environment does not feel welcoming when all the church members are talking amongst themselves.
In summary, Our Savior is a place in need of growth and change. Now, Timothy and I are by no means equipped to handle this kind of change. And we certainly wouldn't presume that we could be a stimulus for this in the congregation. That has the Lord's work written all over it. But this is the kind of environment I am excited to become a part of: a place that is in need of a change and that will be changed through God's power. A place in turmoil for the time being but will find stability in the Lord.
Returning to my first though (that Our Savior will be a beneficial place for us), Timothy and I know that our ministry will be rough. God has revealed to Timothy that we will not be sent stable places, such as what we found at Mount Calvary. Those places are certainly easy to fall into, with or without an overwhelming welcoming environment. We will be sent to places that will challenge us, places that require hope in the Lord to work in them and change them for the better. Knowing that we are headed for a dynamic (because that term is better than difficult) ministry, I cannot think of a better start than with Our Savior Church. A congregation without a permanent pastor is not something that we will ever experience again, but I'm sure we'll be walking into the aftermath of what being without a pastor can do many times over. This will be a challenging place, but I know that the Lord will bless us richly through it.
Our Savior, you are a unique place that deserves to be uniquely loved. I pray that Timothy and I are able to love you like our Lord does.