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Until the sixteenth century, the season we’ve come to know as autumn was commonly known as harvest. Drive north through the center of Minnesota in October and you’ll see the signs of the season — hay bales, small town festivals, apple orchards, and hundreds of miles of trees with a spectacular array of fall colors. After two and a half hours, you’ll stumble upon Palisade, a small town on the Mississippi River northeast of Brainerd. As you head down main street past the One Stop Shop gas station, you’ll find Palisade Assembly of God Church. 

That scenic drive is the same journey Pastor Greg and Joanna Kalyvas have been taking for several months while Greg serves as the Interim Pastor and Joanna helps lead worship from the piano. This is Greg’s seventh assignment in 8 years of interim pastoral ministry. Each church transition has varied in length with some as short as 3 months and others have lasted over a year. 

Greg is one of the Interim Pastors trained in the Minnesota District to help churches through pastoral transitions. At any given time, there are a handful of interims serving faithfully and effectively across our state. The team is composed of veteran pastors who have a wealth of experience and wisdom. The interims meet yearly to connect and continue training. 

Each interim pastor has his own approach to interim ministry. Greg emphasizes, “You have to be willing to take your time. It’s about people, not [just] about getting the job done.” 

One of the first tasks is to form a search committee for the church. The interim and church leadership develop a profile that includes an introduction to the church and its history, demographics of the community, and qualifications and considerations for the next pastor. This is an essential tool for potential pastors who apply. 

While searching for the new pastor, the interim preaches, resolves issues, conducts board meetings, oversees finances, and makes it as easy as possible for the next person to lead the church. “I’ve met a lot of fascinating people and made many friends”, comments Greg. “Because I come in from the ‘outside’, I bring a fresh perspective. It’s rewarding to invest in the people and see the results in a few months.” 

Open churches are great opportunities for those looking to return home to Minnesota or young ministers to grow into a lead position. Pastors like Nick Grey in Alexandria and Richard Broberg in Baudette recently moved back to Minnesota and are doing a great job leading their churches. Other times open churches can transition to a PAC (Parent-Affiliated-Church). Long Prairie AG recently came under the umbrella of River of Life Church in Sauk Centre with Josiah Tonder now serving as Campus Pastor. 

The role of the interim pastors is vital to the mission of our District to build quality Christian leaders and healthy faith communities. We’re grateful for the team of pastors willing to help churches navigate transition and prepare for harvest. 

To view a list of current open churches in Minnesota, visit our website at and enter the password “healthy”. There are communities waiting to be pastored, and we pray God directs you to your place of harvest in ministry.