Interim Thoughts


In this time of discernment, it is important to have an Interim who is culturally competent enough to recognize the potential for differences in the responses congregants have as a result of their perceptions about what has happened. Their sense of identity needs to be respected and honored in this time of figuring out who they are collectively and individually. It is imperative that an Interim be able to provide, encourage and insist on providing a safe space that is non-judgmental such that it allows room and support for healing. It would also be important to recognize the remnants of systemic racism that permeate the church; the embedded biases that have become normative and are oppressive. The manifestation of these biases move beyond what worship looks like and can be seen in the ways communication happens, decisions are made and how personhood is valued.

I suspect that many congregants feel traumatized when leadership is forced to change. An Interim needs to understand that trauma is a self-described state that is valid. The time it takes for grief or mourning or coping to happen is different for everyone; different ways and different timeframes. One of the ways an Interim can support them is to listen without attempting to fix them. Marginalized persons need to be heard not spoken for. Internal self-awareness work needs to be nurtured not replaced with rote templates on how to be a better Christian. People need to feel what they feel.

I know that folks seem to be in a hurry to get to the next phase. However, that’s not always helpful. An Interim who understands the value of journeying alongside a group or individual and letting them just be who they are can be an empowering gift. Many congregants, especially those in leadership, need to feel a sense of security that church will happen on Sunday in a consistent way – that Bible study happens, that pastoral care happens. It is one less HUGE thing to “worry” about that then gives everyone space for rejuvenation, renewal and respite from the stress that comes with being unsettled.

Obviously, none of this takes the place of getting professional help for personal healing, if needed. Many people have been hurt by the church. It is historical and contemporary. My prayer is that you all get the right person who is able to walk with you so that the spiritually wounded don’t become permanently impaired.

Obviously, none of this takes the place of getting professional help for personal healing, if needed. Many people have been hurt by the church. It is historical and contemporary. My prayer is that you all get the right person who is able to walk with you so that the spiritually wounded don’t become permanently impaired.


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