Issue 9 | September 4, 2022


“On The Way” is a play on the word “synod,” which comes from two Biblical Greek words, syn and hodos. These can mean “on the road with” and also “walking with” – since most people in Bible times (and around the world still today) got from place to place on foot.


Pastor Mike Bennethum – our wise, faithful, dedicated and gifted Director for Evangelical Mission – moves into the retired phase of his life starting the end of this month. Well underway now is our process for finding and hiring a new DEM. This position, as I noted in my blog about Mike’s retirement, is actually employed by the ELCA Churchwide Office, but is deployed to serve the unique needs and opportunities of us – the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod.

What does a DEM do? What qualifications do they need? What sorts of persons can apply? All these questions and more are answered by clicking here. This link takes you to the website, and to the detailed position description for our DEM. This description was written collaboratively by our Churchwide partners and myself. There are a couple of items about the role I would like to highlight.

First, our DEM can be a pastor, or a deacon, or a lay person. Second, you’ll note that this is called a “remote position.” By that they mean, remote from the ELCA Home Office which is in Chicago. Our DEM will serve here in NE PA, and we assume they will live here, either already, or be ready to relocate. They will have an office at the Lutheran Center in Allentown, but will be spending most of their time out and about in our synod.

The heart of the work is described this way: “… responsible for the development of Congregational Vitality (CV): ‘Communities of Jesus that nurture new life-changing relationships with God, one another and the world,’ and reflects the purposes, principles and commitments of the synod… and the ELCA as a whole.” This ongoing collaboration between our larger church and our local synod – to build and renew the “vital signs” of new worshipping communities, as well as our existing congregations – their leaders, their members, and the communities in which they serve – is the unique way the Holy Spirit empowers this position.

And it is by the Holy Spirit, that the actual hiring process will go forward. It will take time – as candidates apply from within the synod, across the church, and even around the world. I have already received a wide range of interest, and the position was only just posted on the ELCA Careers page on Thursday! The opportunity to apply will remain open until the position is filled. As candidates move through the pre-interview stage, a team made up of myself, synod representatives, and representatives from Churchwide, will proceed with the full interview process. Even once a final candidate is chosen and accepts, there may be time needed to allow them to notify their current employers or congregations, to give them notice. In the case of pastors and deacons, they may not be comfortable leaving their calls until after Advent and Christmas. So we may not have our new DEM in place, until the end of the year. We shall see – it is in the hands of our Lord.

And that is the best part of all of this: knowing that God’s got this – and being amazed at the gifts and possibilities being offered to us.

On the Way of Jesus together,
Bishop Christopher deForest