Methodist Churches to share pastor —One year trial period for four area churches

Pastor Candie Carey will be serving two parishes with four churches—McIntire, Chester, lLme Springs and Riceville, starting July 1.

By Marcie Klomp

Lots of praying has been taking place over the sharing of the pastoral duties of Chester and Lime Springs United Methodist Churches with McIntire and Riceville United Methodist Churches. The four churches are hoping this will be a workable arrangement for a trial period of one year.

The vote was taken on May 24 at the Riceville Church with about 11 Chester, 20 Lime Springs, 10 McIntire and 20 Riceville members present. District Superintendent Jackie Bradford presided over the meeting.

She spoke of the dis“ease” all the churches were feeling and hoped, by accepting the change of sharing, it would help keep the churches healthy.

The Lime Springs church has been facing financial struggles over the past couple years. Pastor Candie Carey said, “We really began to experience the impact about two years ago, at the time of many deaths and nursing home placements.” In just one year, the church lost 12 parishioners to death and six more during that time period left their homes to live in care centers. Chester’s finances are still relatively strong.

Riceville and McIntire have already seen the decline of members and finances and went to a part-time pastor four years ago.

Bradford knew the problems at both charges and approached Riceville/ McIntire first about sharing a pastor. The members were open to the discussion. Lime Springs/Chester was then approached. They also expressed interest in further communication. Members of the Pastor/Parish committee of the respective churches met and considered a proposal, which was drawn up by the district office.

Carey stated, “After much discussion, the Pastor/Parish Committee voted to move forward, which led to the all-church conference on May 24.

The proposal was accepted. The following week, the Iowa Conference appointed Pastor Candie to share pastoring of the two parishes.

1. Pastor Candie will preach the first and third Sundays of the month at McIntire (membership about 78) at 9:00 a.m. and Riceville (about 144) at 10:30 a.m. On the second and fourth Sundays, she will be at Chester (about 107) at 9:00 a.m. and Lime Springs (about 203) at 10:30 a.m.

On the “off” Sundays, it is the responsibility of the pastor to fill the pulpit with a lay speaker or entertainment. This could cost about $100 per parish or $50 per church.

2. Pastor continues to reside at Lime Springs.

3. Lime Springs agrees to pay 44.5 percent ($30,976.34) of pastoral expenses; Chester pays 24.4 percent ($16,984.78); Riceville pays 21.1 percent ($14,686.66); and McIntire is responsible for 10 percent ($6,960.98).

These figures were agreed upon by representatives from each church. Lime Springs and Chester are paying a higher percentage because they had already agreed to pay for a full-time pastor. Riceville and McIntire paid for the part-time pastor.

All of these proposals would be looked at and renegotiated in one year.

Both Pastor/Parish committees, along with their pastor and the district superintendent will meet every three months to see how things are going.

Pastor Candie, who has added about 150 more parishioners to her flock, is not worried about the change. “I trust that this is the right decision for all four churches. This arrangement will give Riceville/McIntire a pastor and at the same time will help the financial decline at Lime Springs United Methodist Church. I’m okay with this expansion of ministry. Together we will make it work.” She will be getting help from her respective churches.

She also feels that this is God’s plan at this time. She and husband, Pastor Mike Carey of Cresco and Cresco Zion Methodist Churches, were scheduled to go to western Iowa, but it was cancelled. That is unusual she said.

She should be a good fit in Riceville/McIntire as Pastor Mike used to preach in Riceville. “Riceville was my sending church, the church where I went through my candidacy to be a pastor.”

After the meeting, Ernie Schofield of McIntire said, “I hope it works out for all four churches.” He added there are more than just these churches in trouble. It is happening all over the district and state.

Kelly Flugge of Riceville is also being positive about the change. Since going part-time four years ago, the parish has been blessed with part-time pastors Pam Kranzler, whose sending church was Lime Springs, and Pastor Bob Holdorf, a former pastor at Lime Springs/Chester.

The sharing agreement is saving Lime Springs $13,520.06 and Chester $5,229.57, but the churches are losing their full-time pastor. Riceville and McIntire are saving around $500 each by sharing and gaining a full-time pastor.

Lime Springs is still trying to save money in other ways. Pastor Candie said members of the Ad Board are looking at having church service in the chapel instead of the sanctuary in winter to save on heating. Another savings may be to meet only in Chester or Lime Springs on the “off” Sundays.

Lime Springs UMC and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church have also been in communication about a shared ministry. Not a bad thing since members of both congregations are friendly in all the local organizations.

Who knows what the future will hold for these congregations, but if the members are ready to accept change, if not embrace it, that is one step closer to having a healthy spirit.

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