Suggestions for Marking and Ritualizing Pastoral Transitions

It’s important to mark the endings and beginnings of a pastoral transition, rather then just talking about them. Consider creating rituals, actions or activities that dramatize them.

Some suggestions others have offered:
  1. Check the Book of Worship for rituals that can be adapted to your setting.
  2. On the evening of a pastor’s last Sunday, host an evening worship service with the new pastor also present to receive something like keys from the departing pastor.
  3. Someone from the former church goes with the moving pastor to their new church on the first Sunday, and “hands over” the arriving pastor from the previous congregation.
  4. On the last Sunday, do a ritual of passing stoles, and perhaps some fun things.
  5. Former church gives things to the departing pastor that s/he will need at the new church.
  6. Create a ritual using the “A Good Goodbye” material.
  7. Use physical symbols in a ritual on the first Sunday; examples: Chairperson of Worship Committee might hand a chalice and plate to the new pastor, Trustee Chair might hand keys, SPR Chair might hand a stole.
  8. Develop a litany that could span two weeks, and the first half is read as one pastor departs, and the second half is read as the new pastor arrives.