When Pastors Come...and Go

Litanies for Services of Installation and Parting

Litany for a Service of Installation

This litany was prepared by Jerry Kramer for the installation service of copastors at the beginning of their ministry. The litany could easily be adapted for the installation of one pastor. Congregations could also consider different symbols appropriate to their situation.


[The service calls for ten “carriers”—people who carry in a symbol of the co-pastorate down the center aisle. After each places the symbol on the communion table, carrier sits down in front pew. As each carrier is about halfway down the aisle, worship leader reads the interpretation of that symbol.

Note that the presentation of the symbol held by carrier 6 also calls for several couples with infants and several older members to process down the aisle.]

Reader: People of God, together let us observe the symbols that demonstrate the meaning of how David and Jerry will serve as our copastors.

[Carrier 1 carries in gold cross with faith, hope, and love pedestal.]

Reader: The primary calling of our copastors is to proclaim the glorious gospel of the cross and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We believe that as a church we are called to be enthusiastically committed to Jesus Christ.

[Carrier 2 carries in pulpit Bible.]

Reader: Our copastors are called to faithfully teach the Word. As people of the Book we want to grow stronger in worship and deeper in discipleship.

[Carrier 3 carries in baptismal basin of water.]

Reader: Our copastors will baptize all those whom God has called. Let us all remember the joy of our own baptism as we follow in the steps of Jesus Christ.

[Carrier 4 carries in communion ware with bread and wine.]

Reader: Our copastors will serve us the bread of heaven and the cup of salvation. We will break the bread and drink the cup together until our Lord comes again.

[Carrier 5 carries in keys of the church.]

Reader: Our copastors are entrusted with the keys of the kingdom. Through their words and actions they will show us the doors to salvation and service. We want to grow broader in ministry and wider in missions.

[Carrier 6 carries in shepherd’s staff.]

Reader: Our copastors are called to shepherd God’s flock. They will guide and nurture us in the ways of love so that we may grow warmer in fellowship. We believe God is calling us to be a caring and serving community—from the youngest (several couples with infants in their arms process down the aisle) to the oldest (several older members process down the aisle).

[Carrier 7 carries in basin and towel.]

Reader: Our copastors are committed to servant leadership after the style of Jesus, the suffering Servant. They will serve those whom they wish to have follow them.

[Carrier 8 carries in two sets of stoles.]

Reader: Our copastors will wear stoles reminding us both of their holy calling and of how they and we are all to clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, with compassion, humility, gentleness, and patience.

[Carrier 9 carries in a double yoke (as two oxen would wear).]

Reader: Our copastors will work together as true yokefellows. They will serve collegially; although they will each have primary responsibilities, they will share equally; and what each does will have equal authority.

[Carrier 10 carries three containers; two smaller ones filled with sand and one larger empty one.]

Reader: (waits until carrier 10 reaches the communion table; during the reading carrier 10 pours sand from both containers into the third container) The final symbol comes from the beautiful beaches of the low country. Our copastors will co-mingle their respective ministries, so that they become as one. Each of the smaller containers of sand represents David’s and Jerry’s respective lives, ministries, and spiritual gifts. As the two containers of sand are poured into one, so may their ministries truly become one. They will serve us together with energy, imagination, and love to the glory of God.

When a Pastor Leaves a Congregation

The following opening prayer and litany of confession were prepared by Mary Hulst for the last service she led as pastor of Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church. Several weeks before the final service, she invited members of the congregation to come to her if there were any unresolved issues that needed discussion, any ways in which relationships could be mended if needed, or any ways in which communication would help her and the congregation to part in peace.


Opening Prayer

God of our comings and goings:
Our help comes from you, the maker of heaven and earth.
May we not put our trust in princes or pastors,
presidents or parents.
May our trust be in you alone,
the One who guides each step
and leads us into bright tomorrows.
God who brought us together,
watch over us as we part,
that wherever we are,
we will remember the grace shown to us
and the truth spoken here in this place.
We pray through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen.

We Are Reconciled to God and to Each Other

Call to Confession
1 John 4:16b-21 (read by the president of the council/session)

Litany of Confession
Pastor: I confess my failings as your pastor.
Forgive me for any words harshly spoken,
any needs ignored,
any time in which my response to you was less than Christ-like.

Forgive me for ever using the pulpit to proclaim my own views,
forgive me for counsel that did not communicate God’s grace,
forgive me for leadership motivated by self-interest.
For what I have done and what I have left undone, forgive me.

All: As God in Christ has forgiven us, we forgive you.
We ask in turn that you forgive us.
Forgive us for talking about you rather than to you,
for being content to sit in the pews and be fed,
for neglecting prayer for you and your ministry.
For what we have done and what we have left undone,
forgive us.

Pastor: As God in Christ has forgiven me, I forgive you.

Assurance of Pardon (spoken by the president of council/session)

We rejoice that we are sisters and brothers together,
recipients of God’s grace and bearers of that grace to each other.
May the peace of Christ rule in our hearts
as we go out from here, loved and forgiven.

Mary S. Hulst (mary.hulst@gmail.com) is Assistant Professor of Preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is an ordained pastor in the Christian Reformed Church.


Gerald L. Kramer (lpcpastorkramer@hargray.com) is copastor of Lowcountry Presbyterian Church, Bluffton, South Carolina.

Reformed Worship 80 © June 2006, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.