For the Rev. Sarah Timian, a lifelong Midwesterner, the decision to relocate her ministry to the Bay State required both a personal and professional leap of faith.
Timian, who was formally installed as pastor at the Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer May 23, succeeds the Rev. Eric Wolf, a transitional leader called upon after the October 2019 retirement of longtime pastor Richard Schlak.
“I’m new and I’m glad to be here,” Timian said, adding that she has spent the past several months settling into a new routine. “I think I’m mostly looking forward to just exploring things.”
Before then, however, Timian faces a stiffer challenge: Helping reaffirm the church’s central role in the lives of local families still recovering from more than a year of pandemic-related disruption.
“There definitely have been challenges, for sure, and God willing you meet them with hope,” she said.
Raised in the Lutheran faith in Langdon, N.D., Timian received her undergraduate degree in English writing and classical studies from Concordia College in Minnesota, then attended United Lutheran Seminary in Gettysburg, Pa.
Timian explained that she experienced “a discernment process” while pursuing her undergraduate studies which prompted her to enroll in the four-year seminary program immediately upon graduation.
Ordained in 2012, her first call was to Hope Lutheran Church in Wautoma, Wis., then three years later, in September 2015, she was named associate pastor at St. John Lutheran Church in Belle Plaine, Minn.
More recently, Timian said she “sensed” the time had come to consider future options, and connected with members of the local search committee who were pursuing a permanent replacement for Schlak.
As outlined in a church newsletter last fall, the call committee was particularly impressed with Timian’s authenticity, her familiarity with a range of pastoral duties and experience with youth programs, including church school and the confirmation process.
Ultimately, after prayer and soul-searching, she accepted an invitation to visit and lead a Nov. 8 worship service at the Main Street church after which members attending a special congregational meeting voted to extend a call.
Although her formal installation was held two Sundays ago, Timian had arrived in Foxboro to begin her new ministry in February.
Timian said she has embraced her new duties with positive interactions characterized by kindness and politeness, but also with a measure of reserve. Like most area faith communities, the Lutheran congregation on Main Street had switched between all-virtual and in-person worship with limited attendance in accordance with conventional wisdom about public health risks.
“It’s been good, but it’s also been a bit strange because of the pandemic,” Timian said.
At this point, with vaccinations readily available and government loosening restrictions on social gatherings, churches likewise are moving to restore traditional levels of worship and programming. But precisely what this new normal will entail for Our Redeemer -- or any other faith community -- remains to be seen.
Reflecting on Our Redeemer’s journey towards new beginnings in a post-pandemic world, Timian said time will tell what opportunities the Holy Spirit ultimately reveals through grace and faith.
“I think it’s too early to know,” she said. “And that’s how it needs to be right now.”