Posted by: Johnold J. Strey | May 17, 2010

Call Decision Announced (2010)

If you’ve frequented this blog over the past few weeks, you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t posted much beyond sermons.  I started to work on a new worship-related post last week, but it’s not yet finished, and there hasn’t been much on this site lately that’s new.  As you might suspect, my blog inactivity is due in part to the decision I have faced over the past four weeks either to remain here as the pastor of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Belmont, California, or to accept the new divine call recently extended to me by Calvary Lutheran Church in Thiensville, Wisconsin, to serve as one of their two associate pastors.  I publicly announced my decision yesterday, May 15, 2010.  I have declined the call to Thiensville and will remain here in Belmont.

I thank everyone who shared their helpful thoughts and advice with me, as well as those who prayed for me during the past four weeks.  This was by no means an easy decision, especially since so many family and friends would have been in the immediate vicinity had I accepted the new call.  But as I considered both settings, I believe that Belmont is the best place for me to serve in Christ’s kingdom at the present time, and I look forward to continuing to serve God’s people here in the Bay Area.

The letter announcing my decision follows.  As you read it, you might wonder why I explained the call process as I did in the first paragraph and then announced my decision in the second paragraph (rather than “cutting to the chase” right away).  During my deliberations, I reread an essay by Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary professor Richard Gurgel that appeared in Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly in the summer 2008 edition (Vol. 105, No. 3).  Prof. Gurgel’s essay, “After Much Prayerful Consideration,” discusses in part how there seems to be a misconception among our people that called workers seek to divine the will of God in the deliberation process, or that there are correct and incorrect choices in this process, or that God somehow miraculously guides the called worker to the proper decision.  While not downplaying God’s divine guidance, Prof. Gurgel’s essay rightly reminded readers that a person’s sanctified Christian judgment is properly put to use in the call deliberation process.  The Holy Spirit doesn’t mystically whisper his will into our ear.  Rather, God places two good choices before us and allows us to choose between them, all the while knowing what that decision will be and how he will bless it.  Gurgel’s essay also suggested that the letters we write to accept or decline a call can help to encourage a proper perspective about this process — or, conversely, to encourage faulty thinking about the deliberation process.  In light of that article, I wrote the letter the way I did, with a “preface” paragraph preceding my decision.  

With that explanation, here’s the letter:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dear members of Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church:

During the past four weeks I have had the opportunity to consider the divine call you extended to me to be associate pastor at Calvary Lutheran Church.  Whenever a pastor receives a new call, it provides him an opportunity to consider his God-given abilities and where he may best put those abilities to use in Christ’s kingdom, whether at his current call or at the new call extended to him.  This decision is not a choice between right or wrong, or between good and bad, but between good and good.  Pastors gather data, seek advice, turn to the Lord in prayer, and come to a decision knowing that God will graciously bless that decision in whatever ways he sees fit.

After prayerfully considering my present call to serve God’s people here in Belmont and the new call you have extended to me to serve God’s people in Thiensville, I have decided to remain here as the pastor of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church and to decline the call to Calvary.  I thank you for the opportunity you have given me to consider where I may serve Christ in his kingdom, and I pray that God will provide you with a new associate pastor soon and that he will continue to bless the gospel ministry you carry out in his name in the Mequon-Thiensville vicinity.

Blessings in Christ,

Pastor Johnold J. Strey



  1. Pastor Strey:

    I enjoyed the opportunity to speak with you a few weeks ago and look forward to meeting you the next time you are in the M-T area.

    May God bless you and your congregation as you continue your ministry at Gloria Dei.

    Randy Guse

  2. God’s Blessings be with you, your family and your congregation. It has been an honor to correspond and talk with you. I too will look forward to your next visit to Cedarburg.

    Greg Gralewski

  3. Hi Pastor, it was nice to hear from you and I wish you God’s blessings as you continue your ministry.

  4. Gentlemen,

    It was a pleasure communicating with you and others at Calvary over the past several weeks. My best to you and the people of Calvary. May God continue to bless the ministry your congregation carries out in his name.

    Blessings in Christ,
    Pr. Strey


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