PMA Stories – Serving a Two Point Parish
By PMA Jim Germer
Romans 8:28 NRSV: We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
This scripture has been my favorite now during the whole time I have been a PMA – Parish Ministry Associate – first in Kansas and then in Nebraska, although I prefer an alternative ancient reading: “in all things God works for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”
I am presently serving First Evangelical Lutheran in McCool Junction and St. John’s Lutheran in Ohiowa, Nebraska as interim PMA. I am also a caregiver and advocate for my good friend Steve who lives in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The two congregations I serve were part of a three point parish, which recently dissolved very amicably, and the three congregations still do activities together. It’s interesting how the Holy Spirit works – I had a similar experience in Kansas that helped to prepare me for this.
It is exciting to serve as a catalyst to help both congregations grow in their own way and continue to develop their own methods to best serve the Lord, which is resulting in different liturgies, hymns, activities, outreach and in-reach, and where sometimes even delivering different homilies works best! And again, how the Holy Spirit works is so intriguing: it ends up that my sister, who lives up in Polk County, has recently started coming down to play organ for us in McCool Junction twice a month, and my brother just happens to teach and coach track in McCool Junction, a fact that synod staff did not know when they asked if I could fill in there. And most of the parishioners in Ohiowa know my sister because for many years she worked at a nearby bank, and she occasionally fills in there also to play organ when the wonderful organist there needs a break. Moreover, knowledgeable parishioners help me when I have questions about how I can better serve my good friend Steve in negotiating disability and financial issues, and are even willing to help him move into a more accessible place if need be.
I am amazed at all the PMAs I know and the roles they play. Not one PMA that I am aware of is one because they wanted to take a shortcut to being a pastor, but rather they are there because through the Holy Spirit they perceived a need and were willing to take the risk to step up and in some cases to even take the reins and lead rural congregations, which can be somewhat daunting at times! Fortunately we are under the supervision of an area pastor, and often enlist their aid.
I am pretty sure that the need for PMAs in rural areas especially will only increase, as we are surely in the middle of a paradigm shift in how we serve and worship the Lord. And that in itself is also exciting!