Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

      Have you ever caught yourself sitting outside and just being? My wife and kids can testify that I enjoying being outside. Whether it is working in the yard, riding on my mower, or just being … I enjoy being outdoors. As I sit down to write this to you … I do so outside. I do so listening to the fall leaves rustle in the wind. I do so feeling the cool fall breeze blowing. I do so looking at the squirrels play in the trees covered in leaves of yellows, oranges, and reds. I write this admiring the beauty and the simplicity of God’s creation.  

      But in my admiring of the beauty and the simplicity of God’s creation … my mind wanders to the complexity of life indoors. Specifically, my mind wanders to the complexity of life within our church, within the walls of Salem Lutheran, and it wonders … what does God have in store for us in the future?

      I apologize if these thoughts seem really philosophical and leave you wondering … “what in the world is Pastor Mike talking about?” Well, let me get to the point.

      If you were present at the October Voters’ Meeting, you have already heard this and even if you were not present at the meeting, you may have already heard this news. In light of Pastor

Meyer’s retirement in August of 2020, it has been the perception and plan of many that I would be stepping into his position as the next Senor Pastor of Salem Lutheran. I have had many conversations with people (including Pastor Meyer and the Elders), conversations with my wife, and we have said lots of prayers regarding this.

      After much deliberation … I believe that I am being called to remain as the Associate Pastor and that I am to continue the work which God has given me in working with our youth and young families. I understand that this was not the intention of the call committee when I was first interviewed to come to Salem. I understand that this is not what some, if not many people within our congregation, are expecting to hear. But this is what I believe God is calling me to do.

When I originally took the call to Salem, I was committed to stepping into the Senior Pastor roll. However, over the last two years, God has allowed me the opportunity to dive into this wonderful thing called Youth Ministry and I believe this is where God wants me to be. This is not where I thought I would be 2 years ago or even 8 years ago when I graduated from the Seminary, but this is where God has led me. Even though I didn’t think so at first, Youth Ministry has become a huge passion of mine. God says in Isaiah 55:9, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Or another way to say this is, we plan and God laughs. I believe God has a wonderful sense of humor.

      One of the things asked of me when I originally came to Salem was to help build a “successful” youth program. I put successful in quotations because the definition of that word can be and is very vague. I also am not a fan of the word “program” because our youth are more than a number on a piece of paper. Our youth are dearly loved children of God who just like you and  me,  Jesus came to  live,  die,

and rise for them so that they too may be forgiven and enter the kingdom of God. In order to have a “successful” youth ministry, relationships need to be built and nurtured. For “successful” youth ministry, longevity and dedication to our youth is required. To have a leader here for a year or two and then change to someone else only hurts the youth of our church in this pivotal moment of their faith walk.

      As we go through this transitional time of Pastor Meyer getting closer to retirement, him retiring and the calling of a new Senior Pastor … I simply ask for your prayers. Prayers not only for me but for Pastor Meyer and Marilyn, for the Call Committee, and for our congregation as a whole. Please do know that I will do my best to fill the Senior Pastor vacancy until a new Senior Pastor is called, all the while still fulfilling my dedication to our youth. During this transitional time, we all need to lean into the everlasting arms of God knowing that He will never leave us or forsake us but instead will lead and guide us as our Heavenly Father.

      If you would like to talk to me about this, I would love to hear from you.

                                 God’s Blessings,

                                    Pastor Mike