by Pastor Ralph Mineo
Two local Lutheran congregations have decided to enter into a long-term, formal agreement of “Sharing the Pastor.” St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, North Baltimore affirmed this decision at the Annual Meeting on November 16, 2015. St. John’s Lutheran Church, McComb affirmed the decision at the Annual Meeting on January 25, 2015. The Church Councils of both congregations will meet soon to draw up a formal document to finalize the partnership.
Discussions began in May 2014. Pastor Ralph Mineo, at St. Luke’s over 26 years, began to lead worship in McComb on September 7, following a “get-acquainted” gathering the week before. A major change in this partnership is that St. John’s, McComb changed Sunday morning worship to 8:00 (from 10:30). The members of the congregation have generally adopted this as their new time.
Not long after the decision to have worship at 8:00 a.m., St. John’s invited the McComb Methodist Church to share the church building (since the Methodist Church had a serious fire in their building, resulting in an inability to use their building. The Methodist Church began worship in the Lutheran Church building at 10:30 a.m. at the beginning of October 2014.
The two congregations meet at 9:15 for a shared Sunday School. On Easter Sunday, the two McComb congregations will have a combined Easter Sunday breakfast. The Methodist Church is able to use the building for choir rehearsals, meetings, and other needs as they arrive. In Mid-January 2015, an agreement was made with the McComb Hispanic Seventh-day Adventists Church to use the St. John’s Church Building every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The “Sharing the Pastor” agreement between St. John’s and St. Luke’s will include a contribution of funds from St. John’s to St. Luke’s. St. Luke’s will soon be hiring a “Church Administrative Assistant” so that Pastor Mineo can delegate much of his administrative work, freeing him to provide pastoral services to both congregations.
These are exciting times for these several Christian churches working together. To add even more excitement, St. John’s, McComb is celebrating their 150th anniversary as a congregation this year. Pastor Mineo and Bishop Marcus Lohrmann of the Northwestern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, will lead the 150th Anniversary celebration on Sunday, October 18 with worship at noon, followed by a fellowship dinner. Past, present, and future members of St. John’s will be invited to the celebration.