Right now there are 5 active pastors in the Enid Circuit -- and this week our congregations were assigned two candidates from the Seminary. By the end of this summer we should have 7 pastors active in this circuit (and several faithful retired guys who help out, thanks be to God!).
5 of them will be on what is often sadly referred as their "first call" - myself included.
Now, those of a more bureaucratic bent might look at that stat and say, "Ah, this must be a circuit full of _______ congregations" -- where that blank might be filled with "small" or "poor" or "trouble" -- because that's the normal, hoity toity reaction. If you call a Seminarian... well, that probably just means you couldn't call someone from the field... and maybe you'll be lucky to have someone for a few years before you have to try again.
Nothing annoys me more than this attitude. Nothing. It despises these wonderful, faithful congregations. There is nothing wrong with my congregation. Are we smallish -- I suppose... but we're in a town of 500 people, in the middle of Oklahoma, with 5 to 7 other Lutheran congregations within 30 minutes drive. We are what we are - and that is a place where the Gospel is preached and the sacraments are administered. We are a place that helps to feed the hungry in our community, and have done other things as well -- and that is no mean thing.
And the thing I love most about this circuit... the small congregations aren't disdained. And Seminarians aren't disdained either.
This July, I'll have been here 8 years out of the Seminary. Oh, I'm also serving a vacancy of a very small congregation... but the fellow who was here -- that was his call out of the Seminary, and he was there 20+ years.
And last year's new grads -- yeah, their predecessors from the Seminary had been there 8 and 15 years... and one died in office.
And the two guys who are coming in - yeah, their predecessors came from the Sem and had been there 10 years a piece... and each retired.
It is wonderful to be in a place where the young pastors are not disdained... and where congregations that are willing to call young pastors are not disdained either.