Photo by Stan Harder
By Tim Detweiler
Conference Minister for Ministerial Leadership
It is an honor to have served as one of your conference ministers these past 19 years. When I was younger, I thought retirement was a long way off. When my father retired at 62, I thought he was “really up there in years.” Now I am the one the younger generation sees as being “up there.” At age 67 it is now my time to retire from my work as Conference Minister for Ministerial Leadership for Central Plains Mennonite Conference. I am looking forward to what God has in store for Carol and I as we enter this next phase of life called “retirement.”
Serving in this conference from it’s beginning has been an enriching experience. I began work with Central Plains in June 2000 as a half-time regional conference minister serving the churches in SE Iowa including Cedar Falls and Moline, Ill. In June 2019 I began my current role as the Conference Minister for Ministerial Leadership for the whole conference.
Conference ministry work was a huge learning curve for me, work that I came to love and find much appreciation for. Early on I had to trust that God was in this work, calling women and men to pastoral ministry. I learned patience and to trust God with the call process. I worked with some 50 pastoral searches over these 19 years, some lasting 3 months and one lasting 3 years. It is not easy for congregations to wait on God’s timing. I learned the importance of slowing down the process (but not too much) and to challenge search committees to stay with the process and find pastors who would be a good fit, rather than just filling a pastoral position. Pastor searches require much prayer, patience and trust in God’s timing.
There is a significant trend toward calling younger pastors in our conference. Currently, 40% of our pastors are age 50 and younger, 29% are in their 50’s and 31% are 60 and older. I think this is a healthy balance. Our younger pastors give me hope for the church. As congregations call younger pastors, they must be committed to walk with, support, encourage and nurture young pastors as they grow into and develop their pastoral identity.
Our pastors also need a pastor to walk with them. I always looked forward to my annual visits with our pastors and chaplains. The time spent with them was important. These visits were a time to focus on self-care, leadership development, a time to talk about leadership issues and anything else the pastor needed to talk about. I always came away from these visits feeling blessed and grateful for the pastors and chaplains serving in our conference.
I enjoyed being the staff person for the Pastoral Leadership Committee. It was rewarding to work with the credentialing process as we listened to the call and faith stories of pastors and chaplains. I enjoyed working with the Annual Leaders Retreat and developing and working with the support network of volunteers for pastor searches, pastor/congregation evaluations, Conflict Management Support Team and the Ministerial Misconduct Investigative Team.
Serving in this role also meant having to deal with hard issues. My biggest learning curve was in managing my own anxiety and finding patience and trust in God’s wisdom and guidance for all the work I was called to do.
I am often asked how many miles I travel each year for conference work. I added up the miles from this past year and was surprised when the calculator read 26,368. At least 20,000 of those were driving miles. We use ZOOM video conference calling for meetings when possible, but much of this work requires getting in the car and driving.
I have always been blessed to work with and learn from a great ministry staff. Yes, I have been blessed by my work with CPMC. Now as I leave this position, my love and prayers for Central Plains will be ongoing. I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may continue to have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge so that you may be filled to the measure of all of the fullness of God. Blessings to you all.
Tim Detweiler will be retiring from his role of Conference Minister for Ministerial Leadership on April 30, 2019. Tim has agreed to continue on a half-time basis through June 30. We will celebrate Tim’s retirement as a conference at our Annual Meeting in June. Susan Janzen will replace Tim and will begin on August 1, 2019.