A Brief History of NALIP

At the 14th annual meeting of the Interim Ministry Network in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in June 1994, 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 National Association of Lutheran Interim Pastors (NALIP):

  • 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, 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 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, inter-synodical placements, clear and consistent terminology for interim ministry, and others. By 1999, the mailing list had grown to 1200, and included judicatory offices across the country.

Common issues had surfaced as both the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod worked toward serving the Church and pastors committed to the work of intentional interim ministry. NALIP, largely an ELCA-membership organization, offered its historical experience and its seasoned advisors to the LCMS 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 LCMS representatives on its Governing Board, and by seeking to address common needs.

By October 2000, it was apparent to the Board that NALIP's pan-Lutheran vision and operating processes needed reassessment. In a historic meeting in Chicago, the Board applied the basic tasks of the interim process to its own ministry: 1) Come to terms with its history, 2) Discover a new identity, 3) Facilitate shifts in leadership, 4) Review denominational relationships, and 5) Commit to a new leadership and future. And we discovered the interim process worked as well for NALIP as it had for the congregations which Board members had served in their own ministries. New times called for new methods and a new style of organization.

The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod had benefited from early ELCA learnings and was moving toward formal recognition of interim ministry within the Synod's structure, a somewhat different place than interim ministry in the ELCA . The NALIP Board, recognizing the diverging needs of the two Churches, proposed a new ELCA organization, provisionally called the "ELCA Interim Pastors Association." NALIP, governed by a 9-member Board of representatives from 9 geographic areas across the country, found its large structure unhelpful and, in light of changing needs, found a new identity. Structured as a "Coordinating Council," NALIP would have only two members, the ELCA and LCMS interim ministry associations, each appointing two members to the Council. Its task would be to support interim ministry in those areas that would benefit by greater resources, such as communications, Lutheran interim education, and a joint annual conference with a significant Continuing Education presenter. Another important opportunity afforded by such a coordinating organization would be an enhanced ability to seek grants and funding for joint programs, as fraternal organizations and foundations often prefer to endorse projects that include more than a single church body.

In a meeting held in Chicago in October 2000, a proposed NALIP operating document was developed, and another for a new ELCA association. At the June Annual Meeting in Louisville, both documents were presented, discussed, and adopted. The ELCA Interim Pastors Association (later renamed the "Interim Ministry Association - ELCA") elected Susan Miller as Convener, and appointed a governing board. Don Taylor served as the Convener of the LCMS Interim Ministry Conference. The NALIP Coordinating Council comprises four members: LCMS representatives Martin Teske, Chair, and Warren Paulson; ELCA representatives Ray Hittinger, Treasurer, and Cynthia Stengel, Secretary. In early meetings in Louisville, responsibilities were assigned: Marty would oversee the Annual Conference; Warren the development of Lutheran education; Ray, finance and resource development (funding); and Cynthia, communications.

The NALIP Coordinating Council has continued to develop and refine its work. As authorized by its member associations, NALIP works to fulfill 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.

Since the 2001 organizational changes, NALIP and its member associations have continued to evolve in order to support Lutheran interim ministry and better serve congregations in transition. We continue to be challenged in keeping up with a very mobile constituency and addressing the needs of Lutheran judicatories, congregations, and interim ministry community.