Retired pastors as members

July 11, 2011

This
last Saturday and Sunday I celebrated at the parish from which I
retired three and a half years ago.  The rector was away at camp, and
his normal sources of backup were  otherwise engaged.  I imagine it took
some courage on his part to even ask me.  To tell the truth, I was a
little nervous about it too.  Things are done differently now.  The
Saturday night service is a variation on a eucharistic prayer from the
New Zealand Book of Common Prayer.  Beautiful, but unfamiliar to me. 
Sunday always includes a children's sermon, something at which I am
truly lousy.

It's
not like we've been totally absent.  When we are in town and I'm not
preaching elsewhere, that's where we worship, so we are still well
connected, but as parishioners, not clergy.  As it turned out,
everything went well.  It felt good to be leading worship in a familiar
place among (mostly) familiar people.  Selfishly, it also felt good to
know that I did not have to open up, double check every arrangement,
resolve a few last minute issues, and then hang around to turn out the
lights and lock up.  I could just relax and be the visiting clergy.

St.
Paul's is a bit unusual among congregations of almost any denominations
in that it has two former rectors in the congregation, both me and my
predecessor.  It seems to work OK.  I think that is because each of us
is comfortable in our roles and supportive of one another as good
friends.  Most important, we retired rectors are very intentional about
avoiding even the appearance of second guessing the current rector.  To
top it off, the congregation also includes two other retired priests
from nearby communities.  A rector who as not confident in his or her
abilities might have some difficulty with that.  I wonder if any readers
have had their own experiences with retired rectors/pastors remaining
as members of the congregation? 

Originally posted at Country Parson.

Comments

retired clergy

I am very fortunate with my retired pastor.  He retired in this community 30 years after he served here.  He is willing to preach when I am out, do hospital calls and funerals when I am on vacation (lwhich he has done already twice), but otherwise does not function as a pastor.  He is clear with me and with people in the community that he is retired and I am the pastor of this church.  I realize that I am very fortunate; I spoke two weeks ago with a colleague who is moving.  The pastor she is replacing told her that she is not going anywhere and will do anything she (the retiring pastor) wants to do, including preaching and hospital calls.  As I live in a rural area, I realize how blessed I am.

Print Friendly and PDF

Email this page