For my 700th blog post(!!!), I decided I'd go big—so big, in fact, that it takes a second church building and congregation for me to make it happen. Earlier in 2016, Pastor Mark Buetow, who had been serving at Bethel Lutheran Church in Du Quoin, Illinois, received a Call to serve a congregation a little ways outside Chicago. His acceptance of that call (the traitor! *wink*) led the members of the Bethel congregation to consider their future. And after much consideration, they decided to contact my congregation, St. Peter Lutheran Church in Campbell Hill, Illinois. The members of Bethel asked the members of St. Peter to consider joining them in a dual parish arrangement. This meant, among other things, that they would share me as their pastor.
In July, after more consideration and prayer, not to mention a number of meetings full of questions and compromises to hash out details, both congregations voted overwhelmingly to join together as a dual parish. For various reasons, the agreement would not take effect until January 1, 2017. However, I would serve Bethel as their vacancy pastor until that time. I would have to be officially Installed as the pastor of the dual parish, and, having already been Installed at St. Peter in May of 2010, we made the decision to have the dual parish Installation at Bethel. I asked to have it the weekend after Thanksgiving so my parents could attend, since they had already planned to come for Thanksgiving.
So we went ahead with the Installation on the 27th of November. The Reverend President Timothy Scharr of the Southern Illinois District officiated at the Installation. Pastor Kirk Clayton of Zion Lutheran Church in Mascoutah was the preacher, and his sermon brought together the names of the two congregations. (I can't post the text of his sermon, since he preaches from an outline, but you can download the audio of his sermon here.) Pastor Peter Ill of Trinity Lutheran Church in Millstadt was the liturgist. A number of area pastors participated in the laying-on/holy-hover-of-hands. And then, after the Installation, most of us drove from Bethel to St. Peter, where the ladies of both congregations (and a few men, for that matter) put together an impressive meal.
For many of the members, this was their first interaction with members of their new sister congregation. Everything I'd hoped for—love, cooperation, and a joyful spirit—came together on that day. Campbell Hill and Du Quoin may be about 25 miles apart, but the love of Christ has a way of bringing people together, no matter how far apart they may live and worship.
This will change things for all of us. Both congregations are used to having their own pastor; they now share me. Both congregations originally met for Divine Service at 10am; St. Peter now meets at 9am and Bethel at 10:45am. Bethel was used to having the pastor at their preschool every day; now he's only there two days each week. There are others. Many others. Our task going forward together is to do our best to make the arrangement work. I don't think that will be a problem.
And things have changed for the Kornacki family, too. After leaving North Dakota, I said I'd never serve a dual parish again. After writing a book which could be seen as critical of Synod, I also said I'd never receive another Call. If you want to make the Lord laugh, tell Him your plans or say "never." I'm once again taking care of two congregations, which means I have more shut-in and hospital visits, more meetings, more responsibilities, and more time away from my family. It also means I get to work with two youth groups, two church councils, two wonderful organists, and a bunch of preschool kids. I also have a second set of bookshelves, which means I can buy more books! We were able to purchase a new vehicle, which, honestly, we needed. The Lord continues to provide for my family, just as He continues to provide for the two congregations it is now my privilege to serve.
Thank you to everyone who made the day so special! I'll leave you with the picture of the pastors at my Installation. What a seedy-looking bunch of characters!
|Left to right: Rev. Timothy Scharr, Rev. Peter Ill, Rev. Kirk Clayton, me, Rev. James Leistico, Rev. Chris Agne, Rev. Timothy Landskroener (also known as OP: Old Pastor), and Rev. Timothy Sims.|