New ministry provides balm for pastors in transition
(April 14, 2002)
Glasgow, Mont. A year and a half ago,
Alan R. Pine experienced that awkward moment that many pastors endure.
He had been associate pastor at a Wyoming church that finally completed
a lengthy search for a senior pastor. With the senior pastor hired,
Pine knew someone else would take his position and he and his family
needed to move out of the parsonage.
|Ready to help: Alan
and Lori Pine oversee the Elijahs Brook facilities in Montana.
Every day in the United States, an estimated 200
pastors of various denominations leave their congregations. Many transfer
to other churches. But some step down without their next pastorate in
Some pastors in transition are finding their way
to Elijahs Brook, in St. Marie, Mont. It is a quiet retreat center
where clergy can get alone with God and receive guidance from the Holy
Pine, 49, director of Elijahs Brook, says
the center is a refuge of sorts. "This is a place where a pastor
can wait and think and re-evaluate the call of God on his life,"
Pine says. "Over the years Ive seen a lot of former pastors
selling furniture or involved in carpentry. Theres nothing wrong
with that, but I always wonder if they missed a link where they could
have stayed in full-time ministry somehow."
There are retreats, conferences and seminars for
pastors needing a break, but few extended-stay facilities, he says.
There are excellent short-term programs such as Emerge Ministries in
Akron, Ohio, for pastors to obtain in-house support and counseling,
but ministers usually dont stay beyond the treatment period.
Elijahs Brook named after the biblical
site where the prophet was fed by ravens in the wilderness (1 Kings
17:4) is for a variety of ministers: the one who has stayed too
long at a church and grown stagnant; the burned out pastor; the minister
who has been unexpectedly released from his or her duties; even the
one who has experienced a failure of some kind and is seeking help.
The ministry is the brainchild of David Rogenes,
in his 10th year as pastor of Glasgow Assembly of God. Glasgow, a town
of 3,250, is 15 miles south of St. Marie, the site of an Air Force base
closed in the 1970s. Hundreds of modern, well-built, inexpensive condominiums
are available for purchase. Elijahs Brook only has to pay around
$200 a month (including utilities) for a three-bedroom, 1,200-square-foot
condo. Elijahs Brook plans to purchase condos for up to 15 pastors,
who can also bring their spouse and children. Living in the furnished
facilities is free. The pastor only pays for phone calls and food. So
far, Glasgow A/G, which has a Sunday morning attendance of 110, has
provided the funding.
A goal of the Elijahs Brook ministry is to
raise sufficient funding to pay the out-of-work pastor $1,200 a month
to help one of the half dozen Bible-believing churches in Glasgow with
everything from door-to-door evangelism to childrens ministry.
"They will work for Elijahs Brook, but their boss will be,
for instance, the Baptist pastor in town," says Rogenes, 46. "He
can put them to work any way he sees fit for them to serve the community.
That way they dont lose their ministry focus."
Meanwhile, Pine will meet with them weekly for direction.
Rogenes, who has a masters degree in counseling, will do his share
of guidance. With three-month renewal intervals, a qualifying resident
can stay for up to a year.
"The ministry of so many pastors has stopped
in these situations," Pine says. "In order to keep going they
go into secular work and [stay] there. We want to keep them in full-time
John W. Kennedy