Minister for Congregational Life

Sara Wilhelm Garbers

Minister for Congregational Life 

An introduction by Daniel Harrell, Senior Minister

I am grateful to the Lord for his provision, for your confidence, God’s providence, and the movement of the Holy Spirit in our search for a new Minister for Congregational Life. It is with delight and confidence that I introduce Sara Wilhelm Garbers.

Blessed by our Church Council and the Ministerial Search Advisory Team, covered with prayer and aided by Rick Heltne and SIMA Search, I interviewed a strong slate of candidates from all across the country, several in person, all over video and phone calls. With the additional help of staff and our Church Moderator, Sara emerged as our unanimous and enthusiastic choice. She exceeded our criteria for theological education, has strong church experience and demonstrates pastoral fit with our community as measured by SIMA’s MCore, Strengths Finders and other diagnostics. Sara met with our Ministerial Search Advisory Team who reviewed her qualifications and shared my enthusiasm. Our Church Council likewise affirmed this calling.

Sara currently serves as Pastor for Connection and is a member of the Preaching Team at First Covenant Church in Minneapolis. She is also Director of Formation and Contextual Education at United Seminary of the Twin Cities. She is completing her doctorate in Ethics at Loyola University in Chicago.

I heartily recommend Sara Wilhelm Garbers as our next Minister for Congregational Life. In addition to all you will read and hear, I’d like to add a few other reasons (in no particular order) I believe she’s the best choice:

  • Sara has a wide breadth of ministry experience, from church to parachurch, as well as with students from Bethel, United and elsewhere. She’s an excellent preacher and teacher, and is completing a PhD in Ethics at Loyola University, Chicago.
  • Sara has had long personal journey in the church which has shaped her in many ways, as she narrates. Her views square with Colonial Church in most places, stretch us in others. In comparing the two finalists, a distinction emerged between one who who would strengthen our present, and Sara would position us for a future. The strong sense from staff, as well as from survey comments in our recent TCI all-church survey, was a call to look toward our future.
  • Having lived and worked in Minnesota her whole life, and being deeply networked in so many circles, Sara will be able to hit the ground running. Her connections will prove a strong resource for our congregation.
  • She and her husband Andy, married eight years, together represent a younger demographic for our church and are eager to assist in building community among young adults and families.
  • Sara’s MCore diagnostics (determined by SIMA and delineated elsewhere) show an excellent fit for our staff and our church and does her Strengths Finders strengths as determined by TAG, our current church consultant. For those with Strengths Finders familiarity, Sara exhibits positivity, woo, individualization, arranger, and maximizer. If you are also familiar with Core Clarity, Sara’s strengths fall in the Reflect, Connect and Mobilize quadrants.
  • As part of Sara’s responsibility will be adult education, her experience and training, and pending PhD, make her a fine fit for those who remember and would desire a “Teaching Minister” role for adult ministry. Sara also brings immensely strong relational skills and and eagerness to build connections within our congregation.
  • The pastoral staff, as you will read below, identify both a high capacity pastor in Sara as well as a wonderful colleague. She will fill out our staff pastoral team in beautiful fashion. This bodes well for whatever God is calling us to next.
  • From Rev. Marie Wonders: “Daniel asked us to meet with Sara and evaluate her as a pastor, colleague and her fit with the needs of our church. Sara is new to the official pastor gig, but in reality has been pastoring people for much of her life. Because of the denominational circles she has traveled, I believe she would have been pastoring much sooner in her life, but was not afforded the opportunity. She is also engaging and warm, interesting and interested in others. She will be someone who will dig deep, but do so in a grace-filled manner. She will be a wonderful pastor in our church. As a colleague, I think Sara fits well in a team setting. She realizes she has a role and a voice, but also understands that she will not always get the final say or be the only voice. She has a wonderful background in working in religious settings as a vital team member. I think I will learn a lot from her and look forward to working with her and doing life together. As a fit with Colonial’s needs, I think Sara will bring a voice from the margins. I feel that people who have had a quieter voice will get a louder one with Sara. She will connect well with our congregation as a whole, but she will also bring out people who haven not yet had a chance to be central. She will also fill the much-needed role as a female pastor. She will lead adults, preach, be a strong leader, and I can stop feeling guilty for not wanting to do any of those things as the sole female pastor on staff! Sara will be able to facilitate long held traditions, like Christmas Teas, but she will also keep an eye to the future and be an asset to us as we ReForm. She will be able to connect congregation members to each other through classes, groups, retreats, etc. This is what I see as our main need for this position, to connect us more strongly to each other. I am so excited to have her as a part of the staff team. You will love her!”
  • From Rev. Jeff Lindsay: “I offer my enthusiastic endorsement for the hiring of Sara for the position of Minister of Congregational Life. I find Sara to be passionate about the work of the church and the role of minister. Sara has a good sense of who she is and the gifts God has given her to accomplish her work in the church. Sara is very bright, creative, and passionate, about the work of the church and enthusiastic about her potential at Colonial. I am excited that we are hiring for where the church needs to grow and have found the right person to help us accomplish that.”
  • From Rev. Carter Sample: “From the moment I sat down to have coffee with Sara I knew I was going to like her. Sara is warm, compassionate, and incredibly conversational. Sara wields a wealth of experience and knowledge with a pastoral heart and a energetic spirit. It’s incredibly easy for me to see Sara connecting well with all age groups in our community and being a presence that people seek out for joy, wisdom, and encouragement. Imagining her as a co-pastor gives me a great deal of excitement and joy. I believe her gifting and personality will be a great fit for our team and balance us out in ways we need as we move forward into what God has called us to be. I wholeheartedly affirm Sara.”
  • Practically, Sara and Andy will have an easy transition as they will remain in their home in St. Louis Park. Andy hails from rural Wisconsin, holds a seminary degree from Bethel and works as a chaplain and addiction counselor at Minnesota Teen Challenge.

Please join me in welcoming Sara and Andy to Colonial Church.

Sara will be ordained and installed as a pastor of Colonial Church on January 21, 2018 at both worship services. I hope you will be able to be present to welcome and bless Sara Wilhelm Garbers as she begins her ministry among us in service to Christ and Colonial Church, this local body of Christ. We are so grateful to God.