A Charge to a New Congregation

Given to the Presbyterian Church of Bellville at my Service of Installation on Sunday September 27, 2009

At first, it seemed a little silly to be having an installation almost two months after I began working here, but I am grateful for that time.  I have had the wonderful pleasure of getting to know many of you better, and I look forward to getting to know all of you in time.  The warm and generous welcome that this church and community have shown to my family stems from a very genuine place, and Joe and I have been overwhelmed again and again by your thoughtfulness and your kindness.  We are so pleased that God has planted us here.

That being said, I hope we haven’t peaked too soon!  There are three things that I would like to charge all of us with:

1)      Let us begin and continue together in ministry with honesty and sincerity.  There will be times when we will not all get along or agree on the way forward.  When we disagree, we must agree to do so honestly, talking to one another face to face.  But we also must treat one another with sincerity … implicit in the word sincere is a positive hope and goodwill for the matter at hand.  We are a body of Christ brought together by the Lord, and we must treat each other with the same kindness and respect that we would treat Christ.

2)      We sang one of my favorite hymns last week, “Will you let me be your servant.”  Allow me to serve you, just as we humbly serve one another in Christ.  I am young, and I have much to learn.  One thing that has remained strong in my heart since I first considered a call to ministry in 8th grade is a deep love for the people of God.  Trust must be earned, but I pray that we as a congregation may build a strong witness to Christ on the foundation of this church’s strong witness to Christ that has endured for more than 150 year!

3)      I have learned a few things about this church in these first two months, you have a fierce independent streak, strong musical inclinations, a wonderful sense of joy and laughter, and an eagerness to move forward together as a church.  In our eagerness to move forward, let us commit to challenging one another.  Do not let me settle into boring sermons or safe topics.  Challenge me to use my brand new degree in order to help us apply the word of God and engage our faith in community together.  Likewise, expect gentle nudges from me in areas where I think your talents and gifts will shine, and help me to find where we can best grow together.

So as we leave this place, ready to officially begin our ministry together, let us begin with God.

Whatever is pure, whatever is holy, whatever is just, whatever is lovely,
If there is anything of excellence, anything worthy of praise,
let us think on these things.

May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, this day and every day.  Amen.

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