Dear Siblings in Christ at First Lutheran Church,
There are so many ways to say THANK YOU! It is with a grateful heart that I write to share with you that God is calling me to a new ministry. After much prayer and discernment, I have accepted a new call as the Assistant to the Bishop for Latino Ministry Strategy for the Southeastern Synod (Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee) based in Atlanta and Associate Pastor with Amazing Grace Lutheran Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia.
As excited as I am for my new call, my departure from First Lutheran Church is bittersweet. I have encouraged you to listen as God speaks in your lives and to be open to God’s surprising Spirit. Now, it is God’s time for me to do the same. I have loved you as a congregation, staff, and leaders from the first time we met. Kari, Everette, and I love you all for the Nebraska family you have become for us and our love for you does not stop with my acceptance of a new call, it just changes.
Throughout the past four years, we have worshiped, prayed, learned, and served together. We have traveled uncertain roads and made our facilities more welcoming together. I have grown with you, laughed and cried with you, been silly and done some of the most amazing things in my pastoral career with you. I thank God that we have a chapter in our life called First Lutheran Church in Lincoln, Nebraska.
I am so proud of you! You are a leader church in Lincoln and the Nebraska Synod! You have been for 150 years and you will continue to be in the future. You have allowed me to experiment with ministries and encouraged me to keep exploring my passions for teaching in new and impactful ways. As I go forth from here, I will tell of God’s gospel-work taking place among you.
I know that my departure at this time may be difficult, but you are a strong faith community filled with skilled and gifted staff and leaders. I trust that God is already preparing your next rostered leaders and they will be a team who will accompany you into a bright future. 2020 has been a crazy year for everyone, but it now offers us an opportunity to be closer to family in North Carolina.
While the details of our move to Atlanta are still being figured out, my last Sunday with you will be October 18, with my final day in the office to be Thursday, October 22. Pastor Steve, Council President McDannel and I will hold a special Zoom “conversation time” on September 27 from Noon-1:00 pm for you to ask questions and hear more about what this means for the new Lead Pastor call process. In the coming weeks, Pastor Megan Morrow from the Nebraska Synod will work with the Church Council on a transition process for my position. I will follow the Nebraska Synod’s guidelines for when pastors leave their call and will not return in a rostered capacity for weddings, funerals, or pastoral care. This allows you, as a congregation, and me, as a pastor, to move forward honoring healthy boundaries.
I will deeply miss you, but I know that you are in great hands. Thank you for accompanying me and for allowing me to accompany you on this leg of our shared faith journey. Take care First Lutheran friends. God bless you all.
With much love and gratitude,
Pastor Justin Eller