As of this writing, I have driven 17 hours in two days. It took 11 hours to get from Columbus, Ohio to Marquette, Michigan. This morning Debbie and I met with the bishop of the Northern Great Lakes synod. Then we drove 3 hours this afternoon to northeast Wisconsin to meet with a church council looking to call a pastor, and 3 hours back to Marquette. Thankfully, we are splitting the trip back home over two days and staying with family, as these few days have taken us all over and completely worn us out.
This is my first visit to the U.P (that I know of). It felt good to get back to Michigan after spending a year in Muskegon for my internship. The U.P is a different beast. I admit, driving over the Macinac bridge was pretty awesome. We then followed a highway along the shore of Lake Michigan, around dunes and through forests. I’m convinced the route exists to impress visitors and convince them never to leave.
There are 80-some congregations in the NGL synod, which is one of the most rural synods in the ELCA. I’ve never done rural ministry before, but if this really is where the Spirit is leading me, I’m going to learn. And I like it up here. Yeah, it’s cold. But there are trees -everywhere. And a healthy appreciation for the outdoors. And tight-knit communities of people eager to live out Christ’s calling.
Over the next few weeks, congregations, the synod, and we will be discerning if this is where we will do our ministry together. Let’s see what the Spirit has in mind.