KENSINGTON, MN (April 4, 2013) – Evangelical Covenant Church Pastor David Wallin recently added to his pastoral duties in an unusual way in this rural town of some 230 people, as explained in this slightly edited version of a story that appeared in the community newspaper, the Hoffman Tribune.
Rural churches have long recognized the need to share a pastor. Two and three location parishes can be found in our county and throughout rural Minnesota. But it is rare when two churches from two different denominations share a pastor. For Kensington Covenant Church and Kensington Lutheran LCMC (Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ), the arrangement is working very well.
David Wallin, an ordained minister in the Evangelical Covenant Church and pastor of Kensington Covenant Church since 1995, was installed in March as pastor of the Kensington Lutheran LCMC congregation.
Kensington Lutheran LCMC was organized in the fall of 2010. It had been served by several pastors on an interim basis when the chairperson of the congregation approached Wallin about the possibility of taking up the preaching and pastoral duties of the congregation while they searched for a Lutheran pastor. What began as a temporary assignment in February 2011 became formalized with the installation last month.
The benefits of this partnership to both congregations are evident in a number of areas. Instead of two small and struggling Sunday school programs, Kensington Covenant, which has an average worship attendance of 25 people, hosts a Sunday school program for more than 20 elementary and junior high students from LCMC families and others from the surrounding community.
A confirmation class of nine students also meets each Wednesday at the Covenant Church. Two students are from the Lutheran congregation, five are from the Covenant church, and two others are from elsewhere in the community.
Each church will hold their own confirmation service at the end of the two-year course of study, but the joint class gives the students a sense of group identity that could not be possible without the working relationship between the two fellowships.
For Wallin the LCMC uniform has been a “very good fit.” “Both the Covenant Church and the LCMC share the same basic priorities: The authority of scripture, fulfilling the Great Commission through missions and evangelism, and the autonomy of the local congregation.”
When Wallin shared these LCMC ministry fundamentals with his denominational leaders, they were impressed – and with the approval of the Kensington Covenant leadership – were happy to endorse him holding joint standing in both denominations.
Likewise, LCMC officials welcomed to their ranks a pastor with experience outside Lutheran circles. “Both denominations see the potential for mutual blessing,” Wallin shared “as the best of both traditions are shared by pastor and congregation.”
Over the course of the coming year Wallin will work toward LCMC certification. His current standing is as a pastor with a “contract” call serving an LCMC congregation.
“I will get a primer in basic Lutheran doctrine and history,” Wallin says. “It will involve a fair amount of reading and the writing of several reflection papers, and being a lover of history and theology I am looking forward to digging into the Augsburg Confession, the writings of Martin Luther, and Lutheran history.”
Pastor Dave Gran of St. Luke’s LCMC congregation, who was instrumental in helping the Kensington Lutheran LCMC get organized, will serve as Wallin’s mentor during the certification studies.
Since 2005, Wallin has served St. Luke’s in nearby Garfield as visitation pastor to shut-ins who cannot attend services regularly.
But for now, Wallin and his two congregations are eager to continue building a bright future together. “Unity is a mark of a healthy church,” he says, “and we are proving that as we work together, living out the gospel right here in Kensington.”