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Jon K. Nelson

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This project is a case study of resistance within the adaptive change process of the first shared pastorate between two long established declining sibling churches: Pioneer Presbyterian Church of Marinette, Wisconsin and First Presbyterian Church of Menominee, Michigan. It examines the differences in their responses to their decline, the changing world around them and lessons that can be learned about how early organizational culture imprints with the capacity or the lack of capacity to change.

The first section examines the context of the ministry and the pastor. The community and congregational context of these congregations provides insight into their differing responses towards the shared pastorate and adaptive change. Furthermore, the pastor’s history, knowledge, and adaptive capacity further influences a congregation’s ability to navigate decline and change. The second section examines death, loss, and the grieving process within the context of a shared pastorate. As a congregation approaches organizational death, can the grieving process help it to find acceptance and a new pathway forward? Finally, the third section provides a narrative of change and resistance over the eight years of the shared pastorate.

Adaptive change requires a leader to pivot and reframe in response to resistance. A shared pastorate between declining sibling congregations brings unique challenges for a pastor leading adaptive change. This paper is a reflection upon the journey to assist two congregations despite resistance to find acceptance in the midst of the grief and loss to their changing situation.

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Bolsinger, Tod

Document Type





Christian leadership, Pastoral care, Adaptability, Grief, Pioneer Presbyterian Church of Marinette, Wisconsin and First Presbyterian Church of Menominee Michigan


Missions and World Christianity | Practical Theology


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