We have all heard the word “pals” in common everyday language, but what does the word mean in regard to pastors who have just graduated from the seminary?
PALS stands for Post Seminary Applied Learning and Support. This process or development lasts for the first three years of ministry for newly graduated pastors. In the process, these new pastors worship, study and discuss new ministry experiences in the presence of an experienced pastor called a facilitator. These facilitating pastors, chosen by the district president in cooperation with those in the PALS office in St. Louis, are from the district to which the new pastors have been called.
The wives of the pastors are also involved in PALS. As we all realize, supportive wives are vital to a successful pastoral ministry. In a typical meeting, the pastors worship, study, and discuss the experiences they have had and will encounter. Materials, DVDs and workbooks present a cross section of areas of ministry a pastor will encounter. Crisis counseling, premarital pastoral care, pastoring the dying and funerals are examples of some of these studies. There are many different topics they may choose to study over the three year period.
Each pastor receives a recognition for participation, and up to six continuing-education units (CEUs) are awarded at the end of each year completed in PALS. These CEUs are reported to the district president and become a part of the pastor’s file.
The cost for the PALS program is shared by all involved. The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod pays for developing program materials and training of the facilitators. Districts pay an assessment for each pastor registered in the PALS program. The congregations are asked to reimburse travel costs involved with the meetings, and the pastors pay a $25 registration fee for each of the three years.
PALS offers a great experience to help pastors grow in their leadership and development for the people they serve.
Written by Rev. Kurt Gremel, PALS facilitator, Indiana District
First published in the May 2017 edition of the Lutheran Witness