One of the current realities of being the church in the United Church of Canada is that there is a very high probability that a congregation, particularly a small, or rural, or isolated congregation, will spend some time vacant between pastorates. THis is both due to problems attracting people (who may be scarce) and because of the Needs Assessment and Search process that is in place.
So if we can look at this reality and name it, then what is our responsibility as a denomination? Shouldn't we be encouraging congregations to be preparing for that possibility? Don't we need, as a part of our oversight function, to get them to talk about what they ned to do while they do have a regular minister to prepare for the day when that may not be the case? Those preparations may include training worship leaders, developing visiting teams, getting a sense of administrative work, establishing a strong relationship with Presbytery, all around strengthening of lay leadership. (As it happens doing all of those things would not pnly prepare for vacancy but strengthen the life of the church at any time).
Are we doing that? Or do we let each other go blindly into vacancy and then try to help them struggle through it? WHat would you want your congregation to have done if they suddenly became vacant?