It was with much joy and excitement that members of Outer Eastern and Doncaster-Ivanhoe congregations came together on Sunday April 3 for the installation of one of our members, Ed Blow into word and sacrament ministry at Immanuel Lilydale. Ed has been licenced for word and sacrament ministry by Bishop Lester Priebbenow, and was installed by Pastor Brett Kennett. We give praise and thanks to God for this wonderful gift he has given us in Ed.
How did this all happen?
During 2018 Doncaster-Ivanhoe Congregation approached the District to see if any congregation would be willing to enter a pastor sharing arrangement with them. This was an outcome of the transition ministry conducted by Pastor Greg Pietsch with Doncaster-Ivanhoe. Outer Eastern and Pastor Tom Peitsch accepted this challenge, with Pastor Tom being willing to accept this change to his call.
Both congregations are small, with Doncaster-Ivanhoe only able to support a part time pastor. Outer Eastern was also preparing for the retirement of Pastor Tom in June of 2020 and the possibility that we might not be able to support a full time ministry. This arrangement worked well with Pastor Tom conducting two services at Trinity Doncaster, and six services at Immanuel, Lilydale and Open Door, Croydon each month.
In 2018 Outer Eastern congregation also requested DCC to conduct a review of ministry in the eastern region of Melbourne to see how congregations might better work together and share limited resources. This was part of our preparation for Pastor Tom’s retirement.
Outer Eastern Church Council decided not to call a pastor until the review was completed to enable us to adapt for change.
Then COVID struck in March 2020 and the lockdowns began. We all learnt to adapt and worship using our TV’s and computers and other electronic devices. Outer Eastern consolidated services at Lilydale as we were not able to use the Luther College Chapel.
COVID also held up the Eastern Region Review and the decision to establish an Eastern Metropolitan Region Leaders Forum, based on the model currently being used by the Greater Geelong congregations, was proposed in January 2022. A meeting of pastors and congregational leaders was held on March 24 and the decision was made to proceed with the Forum. This will be a wonderful way for us all to work together in mission and worship.
You will have read Bishop Lester’s letters regarding pastor vacancies in Victoria and the shortage of pastors in the LCA generally. This was a consideration as our church council looked at options available to continue our mission within our community. One of our main concerns was to ensure that members were able to receive communion regularly and we requested assurance from the Bishop that we would be supported with a pastor led service at least every three months.
In December Ed Blow approached church council to share that he felt humbly and strongly called to serve and support Outer Eastern Congregation with word and sacrament. Ed had completed divinity studies many years ago but had chosen not to be ordained at that time.
Ed has been working with Pastor Brett Kennett and Bishop Lester since December 2021 regarding this Call. Pastor Tom Peitsch has agreed to be Ed’s mentor. The congregation unanimously supported the decision to call Ed to become licensed for word and sacrament ministry at Outer Eastern Lutheran Church.
We have been working together with Doncaster-Ivanhoe during this time in the spirit of our Pastor Sharing Agreement. Ed has indicated that he is also willing to serve at Doncaster-Ivanhoe, and we hope to have a continuing, close, and collaborative relationship with each other.
I have learnt that no matter how much we plan or organise we never know what God has planned for us.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21
Outer Eastern Lutheran Church Council