Posted by: Johnold Strey | March 13, 2011

Call Decision Announced (2011)

Three weeks ago, I received a divine call from St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Citrus Heights, California, to serve as one of their associate pastors, with specific concentration in the areas of worship and adult discipleship.  This morning (Sunday, March 13, 2011), I announced to my congregation that I have accepted the call from St. Mark’s.  The same announcement was made after the services at St. Mark’s this morning.

There are many factors that contribute to a pastor’s final decision when he receives a call.  But the strongest factor, and the factor that is most frequently discussed, is the answer to this question: Where can I best serve the Lord in his kingdom with the particular talents he has given me?  With my two previous calls, the deliberation process led me to the conclusion that it was best for me to continue to serve God’s people here in Belmont.  With this call, the answer was clear that the best place I can serve at the present time is at St. Mark’s.  St. Mark’s call asks me to focus my attention on some of the areas of ministry that God has given me particular strengths and interests in, and my decision to accept this new call reflects my conclusion that St. Mark’s is the best place that I can serve the Lord in the future.

I believe that it is also important to state that accepting a call to a new parish or place of service is not a negative statement about one’s present call.  I have heard other pastors emphasize this point to their congregations when they accepted a new call, and I think those thoughts are fitting in these circumstances too.  I have loved the opportunity to serve God’s people at Gloria Dei for the past decade.  Leaving them is not going to be an easy task.  The faithful members of this congregation have stood by my family and me, supporting us in good times and bad.  They have encouraged my ministry, been patient with my many weaknesses, and have helped us to make Belmont our home.  In many respects, our congregation feels like our family.  There’s no reason for me to “leave” Gloria Dei.  And that’s my point.  When a pastor accepts a call, his perspective is that he is accepting a call to a new field of service, not that he is accepting a call from his current parish.  That’s the perspective I have with this announcement.

Because I am also serving as the acting principal at our church’s elementary school, I will remain here at Gloria Dei through the end of the school year, and our family will make the move to Citrus Heights after the school year is complete.  As of this writing there are no plans set in stone, but it seems likely that my final Sunday here at Gloria Dei will be June 5.  Until then I ask for your prayers for my family, for my current congregation here in Belmont, and for the new congregation I will begin to serve later this year in Citrus Heights.

My acceptance letter to St. Mark’s follows. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dear members of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church:

“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” (2 Peter 1:2)

On Sunday, February 20, the voters of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church extended a divine call to me to serve as one of your pastors.  Over the past three weeks, I have had the opportunity to speak with the other pastors and some of the leaders at St. Mark’s, as well as the members and leaders of the congregation I presently serve here at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Belmont, California.  The information everyone shared with me has been valuable as I deliberated the two calls I have held—one to St. Mark’s, and the other at Gloria Dei.  Through this entire process, I have greatly appreciated your prayers as I considered where I may best serve the Lord in the public ministry.  It is also a great comfort to know that whatever decision I may make, the Lord will bless it.

With this letter, I announce my acceptance of the call you have extended to me.  The areas of ministry that you have asked me to concentrate on—worship and adult discipleship—are areas that match well with the talents and interests God has given me.  I am eager to work with you to maintain and extend the good work your congregation does in those areas of ministry.  Please keep my family in your prayers as we make the transition from Belmont to Citrus Heights.

During this transitional time, I also ask that you keep my current congregation, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, in your prayers.  I have come to cherish God’s people here at Gloria Dei, whom I have loved and served for a decade.  Pastoral vacancies provide unique challenges to congregations, and I hope that you will join me in asking God to provide them with a new pastor who will serve them faithfully in the future.

Thank you again for the trust and confidence you have extended to me through this call to serve your congregation.  I humbly look forward to joining my efforts to yours under God’s blessing.

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”  (2 Corinthians 13:14)

Blessings in Christ,

Pastor Johnold J. Strey




  1. I just saw this on the Call Report and hopped over to see what you’d written. Thanks for taking the time to share some of these important insights on the deliberation and decision process when it comes to the Divine Call.

    Oh, and by the way, blessings on your new work! I pray that the Lord uses your gifts well there at Citrus Heights. I will also be praying for Gloria Dei that the Lord bless you with a short vacancy!

    In Jesus’ name,

  2. Good morning Pastor: Janis and I continue to keep you and your family in our prayers as you now prepare to move to your new home and church. You’re always welcome to stop by whenever your travels bring you to Cedarburg. God’s Blessings to you, Emily and the girls. Greg & Janis Gralewski


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