Monday, August 17, 2009

Assistant Circuit Counselor

Monday after Pentecost 11
August 17, 2009

The Lord be with you

As many of you know, I’ve been appointed as the Assistant Circuit Counselor for Circuit 18. This appointment has been approved by our SED President, Rev. Dr. Jon Diefenthaler.

The position of Assistant Circuit Counselor is something of an oddity in the LCMS. All circuits have a Circuit Counselor, but precious few have an assistant. That is because in most circuits you can travel between the various congregations an hour or less. In our circuit this is not the case. We stretch from Myrtle Beach in the Northeastern corner of South Carolina and Hilton Head Island in the Southeastern corner of South Carolina up to Greenville in the Northwestern part of our state. From one corner to the other is roughly 260 miles and over four hours of driving! Plus our Circuit Counselor, Rev. Clifford Gade, has very real health problems. So, an assistant seems well warranted.

My responsibilities will probably extend to the “inland” churches: Greenville, Aiken, Columbia, and Irmo. Rev. Gade will remain our Circuit Counselor at Lamb of God (we all need one). My duties include making “regular” visits to my congregations, seeking to ensure that all is well. After visits with congregation and pastor I’ll file a report for Dr. Diefenthaler giving the congregation and pastor a passing grade (I am an incurable optimist). However if some problems do crop up in one of these congregations I’d be on the front line seeking to help them resolve whatever issues they may have.

One problem all congregations face sooner or later is the need to call a new pastor. When that need arises I’d be the one shepherding the congregation through the process.

Perhaps the largest responsibility is to be a faithful representative of our District President to the congregations and pastors in my charge, and a faithful representative of those congregations and pastors to our District President. However this roll will be somewhat mediated. There are regular Circuit Counselor meetings at the District Offices, and Rev. Gade attends these meetings. I am not expected to attend. Any messages from the District President to the churches in the Inland Division of our circuit will come to me through Rev. Gade. Any information that I might want to present at such gatherings will be carried by Rev. Gade to the meeting. The only possible exception to this would be if Rev. Gade’s health prevented him from attending.

Rev. Gade’s term of office extends to the District Convention in 2012, (and therefore mine as well). He has made it clear that he will not be available to serve again. I can’t fault him considering his health. He has served our congregations and pastors faithfully and well. God willing one of our other retired pastors will accept the charge and serve. There is the possibility none will, in which case I might be elected. Not that I expect it, but there is the chance that Rev. Gade will go home to be with the Lord before his term is up. None of us know how long the Lord has given us on this earth. If that should be the case, I’d become the Circuit Counselor, at least until President Diefenthaler selects someone else.

Finally, this position will take me away from the pulpit several times throughout the year. When this happens either one of our leaders will read a sermon I’ve prepared, or we will have a pastor fill the pulpit (like when I’m on vacation). At any rate, Word and Sacrament ministry will continue.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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