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Meet Pastor Shaner, serving Grace during the interim

Staff_Shaner.jpg“An interim pastor,” says Pastor Robert Shaner, “is like a harbor pilot, someone who takes you through the channel, not into the open seas—and not into dry dock.”

Pastor Shaner, Grace’s new interim pastor, will be the steady hand on the wheel in the months ahead, as the Grace congregation navigates the process of calling a senior pastor. Congregation president Jeff Wood is currently assembling the call committee which will begin its work in early fall.

How long will Pastor Shaner be here at Grace? “As long as necessary, as short as possible,” he says. The job of the interim pastor is to provide continuity and stability, he says, to see that “things continue in a good way” and that the work of bringing in, building up and sending out disciples continues at Grace.

Pastor Shaner recently served as interim pastor at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Naperville, a large ELCA congregation. Before that he served for twelve years as senior pastor at another Grace Church—Grace Lutheran Church in LaGrange. He comes to us highly recommended by former Senior Pastor Bruce Modahl, Pastor Vic Brandt, and Bishop Wayne Miller of the Metropolitan Synod of the ELCA.

Pastor Shaner’s years in ministry include service as a campus pastor, teacher, and counselor at the University of Illinois/Chicago, as President and CEO of Augustana Hospital, and as a senior executive in older adult ministry for Lutheran General and Advocate Health Care. Pastor Shaner worshipped at Grace for several years and he and his wife Bonnie were married here.

Interim pastors are not directly involved in the call process, although they may consult with the call committee. The process of discernment is the work of the whole congregation, says Pastor Shaner, as members ask questions such as, what is God up to in this place? What are the congregation’s needs at the moment? What should we be doing now? What do we need to do?

Pastor Shaner points out that ministry depends on relationships, and it takes time for a congregation to reinvest in a relationship with a new pastor. Getting the right fit is important. This means recognizing where a candidate’s core values match those of the congregation, as well as looking for specific skills and a good track record in other positions.

Pastor Shaner will be at Grace on Sundays beginning September 7, and on three days during the week. He will work closely with Pastor Faulstich in providing pastoral care, leading worship and in preaching. He’ll also participate in Grace School’s chapel services and work closely with the church staff.

You can contact Pastor Shaner by phone at Grace (708-366-6900, ext. 209) or email (rshaner@graceriverforest.org).