By Jenny Scott

February 2023

Pastors just out of seminary can sometimes be overwhelmed by the challenges of serving in their new congregations. And that’s where PALS (Post-Seminary Applied Learning and Support) comes in.

“New pastors often find themselves in congregations involved in conflict,” explained Rev. Leonard Payton, Pastor at St. John, Forest Park and the PALS facilitator for the LCMS Northern Illinois District. “Every congregation has its own culture. Veteran pastors understand this, but it can produce a lot of anxiety in a new pastor.”

And it’s not just pastors who might struggle, but their wives can experience cultural disconnects as well, sometimes even more acutely. Each PALS cohort around the Synod has a pastor’s wife to help these women adjust and thrive. Pastor Payton’s wife, Lori, does much the same work with the wives that he does with the pastors. She deals with a lot of marriage and child-rearing issues.

“At our gatherings, we usually see about a dozen pastors, maybe six to eight wives, and numerous small children,” said Pastor Payton. “Childcare is essential so that the mothers can actually speak to one another in full sentences.”

“Even the best seminary training can only prepare a pastor so much,” said Rev. Don Stein who was installed in July 2022 as the pastor at St. Andrew Lutheran Church, Rockton and has benefitted from the program. “PALS gives us a chance to keep learning about God’s Word, sharpen ministry skills, and connect with other pastors.”

Recent candidates in the District now make up a good-sized chunk of the PALS roster. Pastor Payton emphasized that President Buss has worked diligently with the seminaries to get candidates into the District.



WELLNESS: Promoting and encouraging health and vitality in congregations, schools, ministries, professional workers and lay-leaders.

PALS: Helping Pastors and Their Wives Transition