Pastoral Transition

By on March 22, 2017 in Community

March 21, 2017

Dear Zion Members and Friends,

I thank my God every time I remember you,

Constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you,

Because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. –  Philippians 1:3-5

In November of 2011, I eagerly accepted the call to serve as pastor at Zion because this community is a playground for healing, honesty, community, love, and bold experimentation. When I arrived in February of 2012, you welcomed me with meals, stories, cottage meetings, and laughter. You shared why ministries like Recovery Worship and the Lyndale Community Dinner are valuable investments in Zion’s spiritual life and outreach to the neighborhood. I soon felt overwhelmed by the scrappy joy of people at Zion. Since then, when people ask me where I serve, I gush about the most amazing church in the world. I am so proud of our ministry and the growth we have witnessed.  Thanks be to God for all of this. Thanks be to God for you.

Because of all that we have shared over the past five years, it is difficult for me to announce that I have decided to resign my call as pastor at Zion. Many of you know that I am passionate about providing bold and creative models of church partnerships to the whole body of Christ and the next generation of parish ministry. In this spirit, I have accepted a call to serve as the Campus Pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church – Minnetonka.  It has been a gift to work alongside colleagues like Patty Beadle, Jane Wasiluk, Deana Miller, Alex Albertson, Jasmine Wilson, Sam Gardner, and Jenna Yeakle. My ministry and leadership have been deeply informed by my relationships with all of you, and I already grieve this goodbye. Yet it is the right time for the congregation to call a new pastor to lead the next chapter of Zion’s ministry.

Thank you for loving my family so dearly during these five years. You celebrated my pregnancy with thousands of diapers and taught my son knock-knock jokes. But most importantly, you have shown my children the greatest, purest truth about the church: this should be a safe place where we can show up as we are and receive love in Christ – we don’t need to fight to earn belonging in God’s family. I imagine they will engage the church for years to come, expecting nothing less that this wide-cast mercy and love.  You have all been teachers to my children, a precious gift that Matt and I will treasure for a lifetime.

April 16 (Easter) will be my final Sunday at Zion, and you will soon receive an invitation to bless and send us on the evening of Wednesday, April 19. Over these coming weeks, please feel free to be in touch with questions or concerns. I would love to share conversation and prayer with you. With the Spirit’s guiding, I am confident that Zion’s ministry will continue to grow during this transition and far beyond.

With gratitude and love,

Pastor Meta H. Carlson

Pastoral Transition – Frequently Asked Questions 

From Your Council’s Executive Committee

Why is Pastor Meta leaving Zion?

Pastor Meta has been transformed and humbled by the ministry experiences she shares with us at Zion. Together we have been a brave, creative, and curious community rooted in Christ’s love. Pastor Meta now senses a call to help large and small congregations work together for the sake of the whole church, finding new ways to partner and build relationships. While she will miss Zion’s ministry, charisma, and people terribly, she believes it is the right decision for her family and for Zion at this time.  Pastor Meta trusts that the Holy Spirit is already stirring a vibrant pastor for the next chapter of Zion’s leadership and vision.

The Executive Committee and other staff members have been pleased with Pastor Meta’s ministry and she has expressed deep appreciation for our congregation’s leaders. It is sad for all of us to say goodbye, but we trust in the Holy Spirit’s ongoing presence in her life and here at Zion.

Will Pastor Meta be serving another congregation?

Pastor Meta has been called to serve as Campus Pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church – Minnetonka, which was forged when Bethlehem Lutheran Church and Minnetonka Lutheran Church formally merged 15 months ago. Together with support from the whole Bethlehem Lutheran Church – Twin Cities staff and leadership, Pastor Meta will be the mission developer for this pilot initiative.

Will Patty Beadle get to stay?

Pastor Meta’s departure does not affect Patty’s seminary internship timeline. Patty will continue to serve as our intern and provide support during the first weeks of this transition until her internship ends in mid-May.

Is it okay to feel a lot of emotions around this transition?

Yes. You might feel a variety of emotions at different times around Pastor Meta’s leaving, the interim transition, and the calling of the next pastor. Moving through this process may evoke all stages associated with a grieving process. For many, Pastor Meta has been part of baptisms, weddings, funerals, new member celebrations, counseling, community events, and lots of hard work. It will be difficult to say goodbye as it brings up the emotions we felt with those events or experiences. For some, this will be an opportunity to hope for something different and new. There will be times of discomfort around this new layer of change. Together we hold all of these experiences. All of us move through transitions differently, and we want to allow for that space while moving forward together.

Is it okay to stay in touch with Pastor Meta and her family?

After April 22, 2017, Pastor Meta will no longer be a called pastor at Zion. In the ELCA there are boundaries in place called Separation Ethics. In this regard you cannot contact her for pastoral care, to do a pastoral act, or to involve her in the ongoing ministry at Zion. If you see Pastor Meta around the neighborhood or at ELCA or community events, feel free to say hello and reconnect about life—we have all shared significant times and experiences together. You are also welcome to send Christmas cards and updates as you would share with others who are or have been important in your life. Many of you will wish to stay in touch with Pastor Meta and her family through social media. It is common for clergy to refrain from this relationship for up to a year to allow for transition time, so please do not be offended if she is slow to receive your requests. If there are questions around items at Zion (perhaps related to property, finding a document, historical knowledge, etc.), then the council president, office administrator, or next pastor will follow up with Pastor Meta directly.

Are there times when exceptions are made with regard to Separation Ethics?

Like most things, there are exceptions. To offer a few examples, when a church celebrates an anniversary previous pastors may be invited back to participate; if there is an organization in which there has been significant overlap there may be ongoing connection (for example, having served on the ZOOM House Board of Directors, it may be appropriate for her to attend the gala); additionally, some people may have known Pastor Meta as a classmate, colleague, or in ways previous to her work at Zion; and there may be other existing connections apart from Zion.

Are there ways I can be involved in next steps?

Yes! First, we ask that you hold Zion, Pastor Meta and her family, and those considering serving as interim or called pastor at Zion in prayer. This will center us and allow us to move forward effectively.

There will also be people planning ways to say goodbye to Pastor Meta, Matt, Jasper, Solveig, and Tove.  Feel free to share in ways that you are able. It is our hope to send her into the next life chapter with great thanksgiving and memories on Wednesday, April 22, her last evening with us. (This event will be hosted in conjunction with the Lyndale Community Dinner.) We have shared five years of wonderful ministry together and will take time to bless and send them well. Our Congregational Council members, Patty Beadle, and the interim pastor will guide the process of forming a call committee and creating a ministry site profile. Stay tuned for ways you can support this process with your prayers and presence.

Is there anything else we should know?

We are sure there will be other questions and wonderings as we move forward, however, what we know as an Executive Committee is that we are a strong, vibrant, and faith-filled community. Over the last five years our membership, giving, and work for justice have grown in significant ways. We anticipate even more growth going forward. We will continue to be the church together.

That doesn’t mean that we won’t have any challenges ahead of us, but that we are stronger when we work together and support one another in living out God’s call for us. During this time, all are needed in ways both big and small. Each of us has a role going forward. Remember that our theme for the Easter season is that in Christ, “We are showing up”. Let’s keep showing up together!

Pastor Meta is confident that Zion will continue to flourish in the years ahead and will keep us in her prayers. Likewise, we will hold her in our prayers.

Your Executive Committee members are: Kara Bennett (President), Ben Accola (Vice President), Joan Olson (Secretary), and Carl Hendrickson (Treasurer)


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