A Brief History of LuTMA

The Lutheran Transitional Ministry Association (LuTMA) was “born” in 2019 as an updated re-organization of its predecessor, the National Association of Lutheran Interim Pastors (NALIP). The intent of the reorganization was twofold: (1) an expansion of its mission to include leaders of other Lutheran ministry organizations (e.g. schools, camps, social ministry organizations) beyond that solely of pastors of Lutheran congregations; and (2) an expansion beyond the original NALIP members, the ELCA and the LC-MS, to include all Lutheran church bodies.

The overall objective of LuTMA remains that of its predecessor NALIP, namely, the preparation and ongoing support of church leaders who are guiding Lutheran ministries through periods of major transition or recovery. For more than a quarter of a century, NALIP has served Lutheran congregations by providing gifted, equipped, and supported pastors who are able to lead their congregations into a healthy and effective future ministry.

The History of NALIP

The seeds for the formation of NALIP were sown in June 1994 at the 14th annual meeting of the non-denominational Interim Ministry Network (IMN) in Kenosha, Wisconsin. There a caucus of Lutheran interim pastors dreamed of a new organization to address specifically Lutheran needs. A steering committee was appointed and a purpose statement developed for the new NALIP organization. The original purpose statement included the following objectives:

  • Communication between Lutheran pastors doing interim ministry, and with the church-at-large;
  • Education of the church regarding interim ministry and the training of interim pastors; and
  • Support of interim pastors.

The 19 Lutheran pastors present at the IMN conference, plus two former IMN presidents, each made a $10 “charter membership” contribution. In the coming year 189 charter members were enrolled and the mailing list quickly grew to 530. By its first Annual Meeting in 1995, NALIP was incorporated as a non-profit organization under the laws of the State of Minnesota, and was granted 501(c)(3) status as a non-profit organization by the IRS.

From small beginnings and great dreams, the organization grew in size and scope to address such issues as processes for accreditation and accountability, customized mobility forms, roster status for interim pastors on the active rolls, clear and consistent terminology for interim ministry, and others. By 1999, the mailing list of NALIP had grown to 1200, and included judicatory offices across the country.

NALIP, in the beginning largely an ELCA-membership organization, offered its historical experience and its seasoned advisors to the LC-MS as that body sought to embrace and incorporate the gifts of interim ministry into its structure. NALIP responded to opportunities for cooperative work by including LC-MS representatives on its Governing Board and by seeking to address common ministry needs.

By October 2000, it was apparent that NALIP’s vision and operating processes needed reassessment. As the LC-MS moved toward more formal recognition of interim ministry with the Synod’s structure, the NALIP Board recognized some diverging needs of the two church bodies. NALIP, previously governed by a 9-member board of representative from 9 geographic areas across the country, would now have only two members, the ELCA Interim Ministry Association (IMA) and the LC-MS Interim Ministry Conference (IMC). The IMA and IMC would each appoint two representatives to a newly-designed Coordinating Council. The Coordinating Council would continue to support interim ministry in those areas that would benefit by shared resources, such as communications, Lutheran interim training, and a joint annual conference with a significant continuing education presenter. The formation of the Coordinating Council would also have enhanced ability to seek funding grants for joint programs.

Through the years the NALIP Coordination Council continued to develop and refine its work. As authorized by its two member associations, NALIP has fulfilled the following purposes:

  • Promote general awareness of intentional interim ministry and its issues,
  • Advocate high performance standards in its practice,
  • Support the Church’s servants called to interim ministry,
  • Develop and offer programs for the training and continuing education of Lutheran interim ministry practitioners, and
  • Exercise good stewardship of resources, and pursue sources of funding.

LuTMA Today

NALIP and its member associations continued to evolve in order to support Lutheran interim ministry and better serve congregations in transition. During the 2010s, inquiries from other Lutheran church bodies and other Lutheran ministry organizations about the value of trained transitional ministry leaders led NALIP to revisit its mission and its organization once again. The two members of NALIP, the IMA and IMC, determined that the greater good of Lutheran ministry would be served by offering NALIP’s expertise and resources to a wider Lutheran constituency.

The new name of the “Lutheran Transitional Ministry Association” was proposed to convey its wider mission. The revised constitution and bylaws proposed returning to an individual membership organization, providing that the governing Board of LuTMA would maintain a balance of representation from the major Lutheran church bodies supportive of the work of LuTMA.

The two members of NALIP approved the proposed changes in 2018 for adoption the next year at the NALIP Annual Conference. As a result, LuTMA continues as the primary joint Lutheran transitional ministry association in North America, seeking to be of service to the Lutheran church in equipping and supporting those who as leaders are working to heal, redirect, and equip Lutheran organizations for effective future ministry.