Retirement Tribute to Pastor Deb from Beth Newell

Retirement Tribute to Pastor Deb
from Beth Newell

The following tribute to Pastor Deb was shared by Beth Newell at the September Presbytery Meeting on Tuesday, September 22, 2020.

It is an honor for Lisa Gage and me to say a few words about Pastor Deb upon her retirement from over 30 years of ministry.

My part is to share with you a bit about the arc of Deb’s ministry before she came to Geneva and her engagement with our Presbytery and the PCUSA.

The Rev. Dr. Deborah Deanne Lind-Schmitz was ordained as a minister of Word and Sacrament in 1989 at the Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church near Minneapolis.  She had recently received her Master of Divinity Degree from the United Theological Seminary.  In 2006 she completed her Doctor of Ministry degree from McCormick Seminary. 

Before arriving in Geneva, Deb served in the Midwest (Minn, IA and WI) as a campus minister, an installed pastor, and an interim pastor in mostly presbyterian churches but also United Methodist Churches.  In many cases, she was the first female pastor.

Deb found herself drawn to interim ministry – the ministry of redevelopment and transition in churches undergoing change.  She strengthened her skills through the Interim Ministry Network and served on the National Board of Directors of this organization. And it was her experience and gifts in transitional ministry that brought her to us in Geneva in 2013. 

It has been said that all ministry is interim ministry.  As Paul Rack wrote in The Presbyterian Outlook, “Jesus comes into the world for healing, liberation, and deliverance…all of which mean change.  Jesus was about transformation, not stability.  Rack continues: “At its best, interim ministry shifts a congregation’s focus from past to future and opens up a congregation to the new things the Holy Spirit is doing, and will continue to do, among them.”   Well, although the plan was for Deb to serve as an interim just until we completed our search for an installed pastor, God had other plans.  Deb became our installed pastor in 2014 and she has been helping us be open to new things the Holy Spirit is calling us to be and do ever since. 

Beyond our church, Deb has shared her time and talents with Presbytery, including the Committees on Ministry and Operations. She organized and helped chaperone our region’s contingent to last year’s Youth Triennium.  In both the Twin Cities and here she has been engaged in PCUSA peacemaking efforts, serving as a peacemaking ambassador to Hungary and engaged as a local organizer for the 2020 Mosaic of Peace trip to the Holy Land that unfortunately was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

I’ve skipped over a lot of the details of Pastor Deb’s long career as a minister, and her earlier work as a choir director and teacher of piano, voice and organ.  How can the impact of a 30+ year career be captured in a few short comments?  It can’t. But one thing you can be sure of Deb: the congregations you’ve led, the individuals you’ve pastored, and the people with whom you’ve worked all remember and cherish those interactions.