As we bid farewell to Pastor Eric Carlson after ten years of service as an assistant to the bishop, we are in the midst of a significant staffing transition. I am confident that Eric’s ministry as Senior Pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Clive will continue to bless our shared mission. And I think it is important that you know the provisions being made to assure that the ministry of the Office of the Bishop continues to address the priorities of this synod.
Two things will help put these provisions into perspective:
- I have chosen not to be available to serve another term as bishop, which means I will finish this calling on the last day of July 2020.
- All positions on the staff of the Southeastern Iowa Synod are co-terminus (end) with the completion of the bishop’s service.
After consulting with my colleagues in this office, I reported to the Southeastern Iowa Synod that I do not plan to replace or fill this position of assistant to the bishop.
Pastor Carlson, with the affirmation of the Faith Lutheran Church Council, has offered to continue the work he has done for us related to the synod assembly. This is a big deal and I was quick to accept the offer.
Responsibilities that involved Eric as staff liaison to committees or networks will be met with the help of leaders in the synod who already work closely with those ministries.
Where Eric was integral to partnerships beyond the synod, most of those responsibilities related to communication on my behalf. Val Harlynn, Associate for Communication, has already taken up those areas of work.
The remainder of the work for which we have come to depend on Eric (mobility, strategic planning, and relationships, etc.) will fall to Pastor Paul Ostrem, Pastor Erika Uthe, and to me. With judicious “stacking” of travel and with the aid of technology that makes us able to be present in many places via Zoom or FaceTime when necessary, we think we are up to the task. When additional help is needed, the synod council has encouraged me to look to others. When appropriate, a stipend will be offered for the extra effort. This seems the least disruptive approach and my hope is that people throughout the synod will not notice a diminution in service…and if you do, I hope you will be both honest and forgiving.
While some will grieve the absence of a staff presence in the Des Moines metro area, it is important to note that since I began serving, we have not divided responsibilities geographically. That is to say, every assistant to the bishop (like the bishop) is called to serve and to be available to communities of faith and leaders throughout the synod.
I hope this information is helpful to you. If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know. I am moving forward with confidence, knowing that now, more than ever, we are #inthisTogether.
Bishop Michael L. Burk