We’re sending in a PMA…

By Rev. Steve Meysing, Assistant to the Bishop & PMA Program Director

PMA Sunday will be celebrated on Sunday, April 25, 2021, the feast of St. Mark, Evangelist, and Good Shepherd Sunday. Worship resources, sermon videos, and manuscripts by PMAs are available at this link.

“Pastor Bob is retiring the day after Christmas. We’re sending in a PMA and you’re supervising her,” said the assistant to the bishop on the other end of the phone call. This was about two weeks into my new call in a new synod.

“What’s a PMA and how do I supervise one?” I asked. “You have two PMAs in your congregation, Lyle and Pat. They’ll fill you in. And I’ll email you the PMA handbook.” That was my introduction to the Parish Ministry Associate program of our Nebraska Synod. Now I can’t imagine being Nebraska Synod without PMAs!

When a congregation needs a part-time minister, your pastor needs a theologically-trained partner to care for a congregation and community, or you need pulpit supply or visitation while your minister is away, Parish Ministry Associates are there for us. These Nebraska-focused lay ministers are folks with the desire to grow deeper in their faith and to serve Christ through the Church, with their own unique gifts and according to their availability. 

Have you been wrestling with God’s call to ministry? Truth is, lots of PMAs, deacons, and pastors found excuses to say no to God’s call… for as long as they could. 

Are you rooted in your community? Since PMAs serve close to home, they are often already known and trusted. They never know what kind of ministry they’ll be asked to consider or when; so, it’s a good thing that the vast majority of PMAs keep their current job and become bi-vocational lay ministers.

Are you thinking you’re too old or too young? People enter the PMA program while raising a family, as empty nesters, or when retired. The first PMA certification interview I participated in was for a man completing his studies in his early 80s. 

Are you adaptable? The beauty of PMAs is that they are so adaptable. Some serve on church staff in specialized areas, others are chaplains, many provide pulpit supply, a few serve as a transitional (interim) minister. Most serve part-time and a few serve full-time.

Are you thinking you don’t know enough to be a PMA and don’t want to move away to seminary? You don’t have to already be a Bible or Luther scholar, give up your day job, or move to a seminary to become a PMA. DVD-centered classes with small groups and online courses in Bible, pastoral care, Lutheran theology, preaching, ethics, history, and more help form you. You set the pace of learning over the two to five years allowed for study and don’t have to leave Nebraska.

Are you ready to explore the idea of becoming a PMA? Talk with your pastor, deacon, or PMA. Do you know somebody who could be a good PMA? Tell them. Visit the Nebraska Synod website for more information. 

And say a prayer of thanks to God for these amazing servant-leaders in our Nebraska Synod.


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