Transition Team

Since our senior pastor retired in September 2016, we have been in transition. In December 2016, Pastor Paula Harris joined our congregation as interim pastor. She led our Transition Team through the completion of a Ministry Site Profile, which is now available on the ELCA website for pastor candidates to view. If you are interested in being considered for the position, please contact Pastor Kristin Nielsen at the Greater Milwaukee Synod office.

Update: November 11, 2017

One of the greatest challenges of a Call Committee is the privacy required for candidates to perform the interview process. As a congregation, we know everyone is yearning for information about what type of candidates, how many candidates, what questions are being asked, are there any good ones? We are glad these questions about the Call Committee are being asked, because we know you are engaged with the church. This process is very intimate, and we recognize we are challenged to give the congregation information that does not compromise the process, but reflects that much work is being done on a weekly basis. But we can tell you this: Over the past four months, we’ve invested about 100 hours as a team, we’ve met with the synod, we made a game plan, we’ve met with potential candidates, and we’ve prayed a lot. The path of the interview process has proven to be winding, and that’s the journey you’ve selected us to take. We know our updates are rather general, but please trust we have a plan and are sticking to it to do the right thing by our congregation.

Update: October 3, 2017

The Call Committee conducted a meeting with representation from the Milwaukee Synod. At this meeting, the first list of candidates was provided. In addition, instructions were presented which will be applied to each of the upcoming interview sessions. At this point, the process will become very fluid as the committee works through first and second interviews. The committee did elect to have the sessions off site to ensure privacy of the candidates and to create an environment where all parties can appear on common ground. As we work through this process, continued prayers and support are appreciated.

Update: September 19, 2017

The call committee performed a mock interview with a local ELCA pastor. The purpose was twofold: First, the team wanted to know if the questions it asked were appropriate for obtaining the information it needed. Second, the team wanted to see if the questions could elicit enough information to help it decide if an in-person interview was warranted. Upon successful completion of this test run, the committee is now ready to receive the initial list of candidates from the synod.

Update: August 22, 2017

The call committee began its first task of establishing a question base for initial interviews. Committee members wrote the questions based on targets defined in the Transition Team’s Ministry Site Profile. Over the next few weeks, this list will be refined to establish an initial vetting of candidates presented by the synod.

Update: August 15, 2017

We held a congregational election for a Call Committee on July 30. Out of 15 candidates, we elected the following six people to serve on the committee: Andy Matter (chairperson), Dennis Faherty, Beccah Schmidt, Deb Schaber, Jake Gould and Clare Ove.

On August 13, members of our congregation discussed the Ministry Site Profile in a Town Hall meeting with Bishop Paul Erickson. After the meeting, the Church Council made a few necessary changes and we uploaded the document to the ELCA website. Now, we will wait for staff members in our synod to compile a list of candidates for our Call Committee to interview. In the meantime, our Call Committee is preparing to meet candidates. It has had an orientation session with synod staff, developed roles and responsibilities within the team, rolled out a short-term planning calendar, started to develop a call follow-up kit for potential candidates, and is already staging a strategy for how it will interview potential call candidates.

Update: August 10, 2017

The committee met for the first time on August 10. During this session, the synod representative assigned to our church, Pastor Kristin Nielsen, conducted an orientation. This initial training was instrumental in illustrating what were required of the call committee members, what roles and responsibilities were to be assigned, and what resources were available to support the team during the call process. The committee made decisions about specific roles within the team and established communication tools and timing. It now has a confident viewpoint as to where it is going and how it is getting there.

Update: July 26, 2017

The Church Council unanimously approved the Ministry Site Profile on July 25. The document will be distributed to the congregation, and on August 13, Bishop Paul Erickson will come to our church for a Town Hall Meeting. If the congregation agrees that the profile accurately represents our church, it will be submitted to ELCA website to be viewed by pastor candidates.

Update: July 18, 2017

On June 28, Bishop Paul Erickson came to our church for a listening session on our transition period. About 50 members of our church came to talk about our hopes and concerns about the future.

Read the table notes from the session.

Read the summary of what we noticed about the responses.

Update: June 30, 2017

We have completed our research (including the congregational questions) and are sending the first draft of the Ministry Site Profile to the Church Council at the beginning  of July. After Council members review it, they will discuss it at their July meeting. We will spend the remainder of July refining this important document and putting together a Call Committee for our new senior pastor. We will distribute the finalized Ministry Site Profile to the congregation at the beginning of August, and Bishop Paul Erickson will conduct a Town Hall Meeting on August 13, 2017, at which he will discuss the document with the congregation. If all agree that it accurately reflects our congregation and the leader we seek, the Greater Milwaukee Synod leaders will begin searching for senior pastor candidates for us to review.

Update: May 25, 2017

We will be spending the first half of the summer gathering more information to complete the Ministry Site Profile. In addition to the timeline referenced below, we will be distributing questions to the congregation before services–the last step in the Who are we? phase of the process. The questions are:

  • What do you like about our congregation?
  • What’s one thing you want to see improved about our congregation?
  • How do you feel about worship (any praise or suggestions)?
  • As a community, how are we doing  with sharing the good news of Jesus with neighbors  and those in need? Any suggestions?

Two members of our team are working together to write the first part of the Ministry Site Profile, which will be shown to the Church Council and congregation in July.

Update: May 2017

What are the next steps?

Our main goal is to gather the information we need to prepare our Ministry Site Profile, which will help us market ourselves to senior pastor candidates. To this end, we are starting two projects:

  • Community Input Project – During the month of May, we are approaching several dozen of our neighbors to learn what they know about our church, their impression of us, and what they think are the major issues facing our community. The Ministry Site Profile includes a number of in-depth questions about our church and community, and how our church fits into the community. We want to make sure the document accurately reflects our congregation so we can find exactly the right fit in a senior pastor.
  • Timeline Project – We will be creating a visual timeline that covers all of our church’s 34 years. In June, we will invite members of our congregation to mark their own special events on this timeline so we can all see how we fit into our church community.

When will we be forming a call committee?

We hope to form a call committee and finalize our Ministry Site Profile in the summer of 2017. If all goes well, we will begin looking at candidates in September. If we find the right candidate within the first few months of our search, we would hope to have him or her start at our congregation at the beginning of 2018.

Is it really necessary to wait until September before the call committee begins its work? Why can’t it start now?

We need to be very, very certain that our congregation has a clear vision and understanding of our place in the community before we submit our Ministry Site Profile. The Transition Team has not reached that point yet.

Is the Transition Team hiding any information from the rest of the congregation?

No. If it seems like we haven’t been giving much information in the past couple of months, that’s true – our work stalled while the Church Council managed our budget crisis. Now, we are working hard to give information to the congregation as we get it ourselves.

Update: April 2017

Why is Associate Pastor Liz Rossing leaving the congregation on May 21?

After significant research and reflection, the Church Council determined that our congregation can no longer afford to keep two full-time pastors on staff. We are sad to lose Pastor Liz, as she has been a strong spiritual leader for us. Pastor Paula Harris is staying on as interim pastor until we call a new senior pastor.

Where will Pastor Liz go after leaving Church of the Resurrection?

Pastor Liz is currently working with the Greater Milwaukee Synod to find another congregation at which she can serve. In the meantime, we have worked out an agreement to financially support her until she finds another position.

What does this mean for the future of our congregation?

Our first priority is to attain financial stability, and becoming a one-pastor congregation will help us do that. In the future, we hope to be able to bring other part-time staff members on board to help us continue in our ministry.

Update: March 2017

Who is on the Transition Team and how were they chosen?

The members of the Transition Team are: Pam DeRosier, Beth Earnest, Erin Gould, Mark Haddix, Randy Kohn, Andy Matter, Barb Maloney, Jeff Rick, Katie Rick, Paige Schaber, Amy Skoug, Elizabeth Wahmhoff and Russell Zell. The members were chosen to represent a variety of ages, groups, interests and experiences within our church community.

What have Pastor Paula, the Transition Team and the Church Council accomplished so far?

  • Pastor Paula and the Staff Support Team have met with all staff members to clarify their roles and update their job descriptions.
  • We developed a financial stability plan, and the congregation approved a budget for the transitional period of January through May. The Council will present a budget for the remainder of the year to the congregation on May 7, 2017.
  • Pastor Paula and Transition Team members led five Cottage Meetings during which approximately 50 church members answered questions about which aspects of our church are most important to them. At the end of February, the Transition Team collated those responses into a document for the Church Council.

If you would like to review the responses from all sessions, follow this link!  Cottage Meeting Summary

What comes next?

  • The Church Council and Transition Team will meet on March 28 to discuss findings from the Cottage Meetings and determine whether Church of the Resurrection is a pastoral-size (with all programs originating from the pastor) or program-size (with the pastor providing guidance as laypeople lead programs) church.
  • Members of the Transition Team are beginning work on our church’s Ministry Site Profile, which we will give to our synod when we are ready to begin the call process.
  • At its next meeting at the beginning of May, the Transition Team will discuss a plan for determining who are our church’s neighbors, and which programs we should be focusing on the most.

Why isn’t the process moving faster?
We are following a proven process given to us by the Greater Milwaukee Synod of the ELCA. We want to take our time to ensure we are making the right decisions for our church.

Q&A from September 2016

Why did Pastor Stein leave our congregation?
Pastor Stein has been in the ministry for 40 years. He was ready to retire and enjoy life with his wife, Cathy.

Why didn’t Pastor Stein and Cathy stay in our congregation after he retired?

Pastors are members of the churches they serve. When they retire from being the pastor, they are no longer members. This is a good thing, since the next pastor needs to build relationships with members of the church as a part of their new ministry. Having the former pastor around would not be helpful for that process. In addition, a retired pastor wants to find a new church home where he or she (and their spouse) can participate as members of the church without the responsibilities and expectations of being that church’s pastor. Pastor Stein addressed this question in more detail in a newsletter article and letter to the congregation.

Why do we need an interim pastor? Why couldn’t we hire a senior pastor right away?
When a pastor leaves a congregation, the congregation experiences a loss. This loss, when acknowledged, can best be resolved during the time of transition before a new pastor is called and installed. An interim pastor, appointed by the bishop, in consultation with the Church Council, provides support and nurturing when needed during the transition by assisting, coaching, mentoring and/or advising the congregation during its transition period. Our synod has been using this process for many years to great success.

Why can’t our associate pastor, Pastor Liz Rossing, take over as senior pastor?
Pastor Liz began her ministry less than two years ago, and we would like to give her time to grow as a spiritual leader before taking on a senior pastor role.

Learn more about the process our church is undergoing by reading the InterimMinistryManual.

For more information and answers to questions not found here, e-mail our Transition Team at