These summer months are rich with shepherds green. As if there isn’t enough crop and forest green this growing season, there comes upon us this band of new shepherds, fresh from the seminaries. They are green with readiness for growth and ripeness for ministry. These fledgling herders have been waiting a long time to be turned loose on a flock, and now here they come!
So in summer we have one ordination after another, each one rich with anticipation and hope. We hear vows of faithfulness to the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions, often accompanied by the tears of the ordinand’s parents, spouse and new congregants. They are green, these new shepherds. They have much to learn. They will make mistakes.
They will sometimes sound like they just came from the seminary. Some will have a bravado beyond their years. Others will quake with anxiety and fear. A few may be more theologian than pastor. All, however, are set aside to deliver Word and Sacraments to a flock of God’s people in worship and at the highest and lowest times of their lives.
All will be sent by God to place His mission before God’s flock for the sake of reaching those outside the flock.
At their ordination or installation, each one of these shepherds green receives a shepherd’s staff, a gift from the Minnesota South District. It is a symbol of their pastoral ministry as they take their cues from their Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ. The original Greek New Testament uses the plain, ordinary word for shepherd (poimén) when it speaks of pastors.
Like a shepherd, pastors nourish, protect and lead a flock of God’s people. The staff reminds them that they are to seek the lost, rescue those in trouble and, if necessary, bop a few stubborn sheep over the head.
At an ordination, one cannot help but catch the similarities to a wedding. In both rites, commitments are made and promises are given. Scriptural truth, fervent prayers and rich blessings accompany those promises. Faithfulness in relationship, trust and sacrifice, similar to that of a husband and wife, become paramount between a pastor and his flock.
New pastors in our district spend their first year together in a learning community designed to help their transition to full-time ministry. These peers come together not only to learn but also to support one another and hold one another accountable. Executive Assistant Dr. Mark Noren facilitates this important ministry among our shepherds green.
This summer, we welcome into our district the following newly ordained and installed pastors from our seminaries in St. Louis and Fort Wayne, Ind.: Steven Andrews, associate, St. John, Stewartville; Matthew Lane, associate, Peace, Faribault; Travis Loeslie, sole pastor, St. Peter, Lester Prairie; Benjamin Perkins, associate, Trinity, Mountain Lake; Eric Rapp, sole pastor, St. Paul and Zion, Green Isle; Daniel Schultz (SMP), associate, Zion, Hopkins; James Stefanic, sole pastor, Good Shepherd, Marshall; Philip (PJ) Stohlmann, Mount Moriah, Byron; and Matthew Wait, associate. Messiah, Lakeville.
With the Lord as their shepherd, these shepherds green shall not want.