Mount Union Lutheran Church in western Carroll County is settling into its new affiliation and preparing to call its first full-time pastor.
Alex Myers, Mount Union's church council president, said Cary Moorman, the church's current interim minister, is a candidate to be its first full-time minister in 20 years. Mount Union shared a pastor with other congregations under the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, or ELCA, which its previous pastor continues to serve.
Wanda Ottey, council vice president and a third-generation member of Mount Union, is chairwoman of the church's call committee. She said Moorman will be officially interviewed soon.
Moorman became a minister in 1982 within the American Lutheran Church, which merged with two other Lutheran churches in 1988 to become the ELCA. After the founding of the North American Lutheran Church, or NALC, Moorman became a certified NALC minister.
"There was a shift in direction in the ELCA [from] what we always held to be true," Moorman said.
"I look forward to being their pastor, coming alongside as a shepherd and serving, not above in any way, but coming alongside," Moorman said.
Moorman said he already has short-term plans for Mount Union, such as helping the congregation reactivate the children's Sunday school and creating an adults' Sunday school program.
Moorman also plans to start HOME, or Homes Open for Ministry and Encouragement, in February. HOME will meet in two groups: one on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at a time and place to be determined; and the other group from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month at the Moormans' home in Frederick.
HOME gatherings will include a potluck meal, worship, Scripture reading and discussion about practical applications of the reading.
Moorman said he and his wife, Sandy, received a warm welcome from Mount Union's congregation and are enjoying getting to know them. The couple have three children, all grown, who attend when they are in town.
The church joined the NALC on Aug. 2. The move was made after a vote to disaffiliate from the ELCA in a process that took more than a year.
"It's really, for us, a concentration on Jesus," said Alex Myers, Mount Union's church council president. "There were distractions [under the ELCA] and those take various forms, and yet the most important thing to us is following Christ."
The decision to disaffiliate from the ELCA required two separate congregational votes, each at a two-thirds majority in favor of the disaffiliation, to comply with the church's constitution under the ELCA. Myers said the votes were nearly unanimous, with the first at 90 percent and the second at 95 percent in favor of the change.
"The council can make certain decisions, but something like [this], the whole church has to make," she said. "I'm hoping and praying that the church grows [from the change]. It had been stagnant."
A few church members chose to leave Mount Union during the process, Myers said.
"We're still brothers and sisters in Christ with them, and that goes for the entire ELCA," he said.
The congregation's first interim pastor, Richard Hembrock, shepherded the new NALC congregation from Aug. 2 through mid-October. The congregation recognized his guidance in a special Sunday service during which Hembrock also baptized four generations of one family, bringing the church up to its current membership of 79.
Moorman became Mount Union's second interim pastor after that service.
Mount Union is "a small community of faith, [with] a lot of heart," Moorman said.
Mount Union Lutheran Church, at 5000 Middleburg Road in Taneytown, meets for worship at 9 a.m. every Sunday.
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