Families and Friends of Central Church,
This is the last blog I’ll write as your senior pastor. And while I’m not much of a blogger, I have enjoyed the regular opportunity to celebrate our church and its mission in this space.
As I reflect on the 14 years I’ve served as your pastor, I realize we have had much to celebrate. What a privilege it has been to serve a vital congregation like Central; vitality based upon a distinct vision of a Christ-centered way of life together. Here are a few of my celebrations:
Central’s Radial Hospitality: Not just friendliness, but radical Christ-like inclusion. You have worked hard to incorporate both familiar neighbors and marginalized ones. Central counts among its members and friends those with wealth and status, as well as those without bank accounts or homes. We have “traditional’ family configurations as well as emerging ones, like those of our LGBTQ neighbors. Central is an intergenerational community with both in-person and online opportunities for connection. But none of this happened passively. It’s real, because you work on it every day.
Central’s Strong Lay Leadership: Both Pastor Chris and I have been blessed with a passionate and committed group of lay leaders. Without you, the church sinks into sacerdotalism. But through the Spirit’s gifts, at work in your lives, we have thrived and grown. So thanks for all you do for Christ and for the many, varied ways, you do it!
Central’s Staff: Over the years, I have been blessed to work with a great team of staff members. Persons who have both guided and supported our laity, but who have also rolled up their sleeves and did the hard work of leading. Thanks for your love of Christ and his people here at Central.
Central’s Mission Mindedness: For many, this is what defines Central Church. From our local work through the Outreach Program and events like Serve Saturday, to mission commitments in other countries like Africa and Haiti; Central has built an expansive mission program and supported it with generous donations of time and money.
Central’s Generosity: While most pastors are given to worry over church budgets and finances, Central has made my work easier by showing consistent financial support for our ministry and mission. Whether it was annual campaigns for the general budget or raising capital to care for our beautiful 109 year old building, you have been generous. Keep it up!
Central’s Clergy Colleagues: When I first arrived at Central I was blessed to work with the caring and gifted Tamara Williams. Over the past 12 years I’ve had the joy of working with a spirited Chris Lane. We’ve been colleagues and friends: collaborators in ministry and mountain biking buddies. Central is in good hands with Chris taking on the role of Lead Pastor. And, hopefully, we’ll keep biking together for years to come!
There is so much that could be named. But all of it, and abundantly more, is a tribute to God’s faithfulness and the Spirit of Christ at work in our life together. Thanks be to God!
As for me, I celebrate the daily connections I have had with you; working, laughing, crying together as we have. I will miss that. I will miss preaching and teaching too. I won’t miss being up to my eyeballs in administrative work and institution management. I’m ready to try something new. My wife, Debbie, is too.
Lastly, I celebrate who, by God’s grace, you have helped me become. Thank you for encouraging me and supporting my work. Thank you for challenging me when I needed to grow. Thank you for walking with me through the darkest days of my life, when our daughter Chloe died. Without you, our family would not have made it through.
In the future, Debbie and I hope to be a part of Central Church’s ministry. You might see me out at Our Neighbor’s Garden or on the periphery in some other way. But now is the time for me to step away for a season so your new configuration of pastoral leadership might shine.
May the never failing love of God, the relentless compassion of Christ, and the untamable power of the Holy Spirit, be with you now and forever!
In Christ’s Love,