Pastors and Staff

The Rev. SHAROLYN SWENSON BROWNING (she/her) 

“For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Grace and peace with you. I’m honored and blessed to be among the folks of Gethsemane, serving God and community with them during this time of transition. I am called to this work through the Synod Council of the Southwestern Texas Synod of the ELCA, to guide congregations through the time between called pastors. Congregations (and individuals, organizations and systems) are always being made new and going through transition. However, there are seasons when that is more glaringly obvious. Gethsemane is experiencing just such a season of great change…and that is always scary and exciting. Transitional pastors, like myself, help guide congregations toward healing, growth, reconciliation, and agency in relationship with God, self, community, and creation.

Shalom,

Pastor Sharolyn (she/her)

THE SEASON of TRANSITION 
A big part of the work of the congregation during the season of transition, is grief. We grieve the tangible and intangible things lost. When it feels like everything around is changing, one might imagine or hope that the church would be a stable anchor in the cultural storm.  All we have to do is dive into our sacred story to witness that is not how God works in us or through the church. Perhaps most ardently in times of great change, can we more fully witness how God is working…making all things new. From the waters of creation, the cleansing waters of the flood, the Exodus waters of freedom…our baptismal identity is a daily dying and rising. Change brings new life. 
 
And it is with relationships…especially between long-time pastors and a congregation. Gethsemane has said goodbye to two such long-time pastors, who have celebrated with us baptisms, weddings, and deathbeds and all the life in-between. And in order for the endings to become new Easter beginnings, ministers in the church, across denominations, behave with an ethical code of conduct, so that both pastor and congregation may have clear and safe boundaries at leave-takings from a call. The leave taking ends the active and present relationship between pastor and congregation. We send them in blessing and peace, trusting the pastors who have gone before have concluded their work among us. We trust in God’s infinite providence, that the leaders we need among us, will join our journey together.
READ more about the Pastor Ethics upon Leave Taking.  
 
During the season of transition, a congregation spends time discerning who God is calling them to be, so that they can more faithfully describe themselves, their hopes, and purpose of God at work among them, when the seek to call a pastor. Also during this time, a congregation learns more deeply about the sense of call itself for Roster Ministers, both pastors and deacons, in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. This little chart is a helpful starting place, that includes the privileges and responsibilities of a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. 

Called by Grace, Led by Faith, Welcoming All to Share God's Love