By Ward Shope
You may have heard the oft-repeated saying, “The church is the only institution in this world that will continue into the Kingdom of God.” Perhaps not everything in the church will translate directly into the new age, thank the Lord! But the service we contribute as the community of Christ has eternal significance.
I was greatly encouraged at the Town Meeting as Anthony reported a number of significant conversations our members have had recently that led friends and neighbors to a greater curiosity about Christ, and even to commit their lives to him. These weren’t the result of great church programs, but rather normal everyday interactions that Christ became a part of. The Spirit works in very simple ways for eternal benefit.
Likewise, we continue to strengthen our staff for the long term. Jacob Lee has ably stepped into caring for Home Groups and welcoming new people. While Jacob is part-time and finishing school, the process to bring on a full-time person has already begun and we anticipate a decision will be made by January. In the meantime, Bob Hudson is filling Jacob’s former post as the Jr. High staff leader. Bob’s background is engineering, but the Lord has persistently called him to change direction, and we are the beneficiaries. Debbie Leonard will also be “non-retiring” from her position as Children’s Ministry Director in December 2016. In the meantime, Beth Anne Lesshafft has increased her hours as she assists Debbie.
The Session anticipates presenting a pastoral search committee ballot this fall to be voted on as we draw closer to Ron’s retirement in 2017. This follows the timeline presented by the Session a number of months back. Sam Chez reminded us that the timing of Ron’s leaving does not commit us to have someone in place by then, and that shouldn’t frighten us. We’ll move as the Lord provides and believe we can be comfortable with that.
In the meantime, we haven’t forgotten the needs of the congregation. In our Session retreat last weekend, considerable time was taken up developing a structure for more systematically caring for people in our congregation. We also are very intentionally committed to recruiting and developing newer and younger members to serve as elders. So even as one generation grows older – some would say more mature – God is raising others up to join them – because we are all in it for the long term.