Thursday, April 10, 2014
I have been a long time in writing, and have a few updates to share.
Call and Ordination
As I mentioned last year, Pastor Carl Bergman (the lead pastor at New Hope) took a sabbatical from October 2013 – February 2014, and as Intern Pastor, I was functioning as the sole pastor during this period. Over his sabbatical, it became clear to Carl that God was leading him to step down from pastoring New Hope and to enter a partial retirement. (He will still be working for the denomination in this region.)
Following this news, New Hope later extended a call to me to serve as lead (long-term) pastor. Through a period of thought and prayer, God gave me a sense of peace about the call, and I accepted in late February. It will be a privilege to continue to serve the congregation and city in this region!
In mid-March, at our regional denominational leadership meeting, I was examined in my faith and life, preaching, and biblical and theological understanding. Although I certainly approached the exam with some trepidation, it was a very affirming time—and especially encouraging to have family and several long-time friends and mentors there. Now that I have been ordained, there will be a special ordination/installation service at New Hope on April 27th. Thank you for all your support and prayers leading up to this point! I know I will continue to need them in the coming years.
I just started coaching tennis at a local high school, and as always it’s a delight to work with the team. We have 17 students, and already I see several potential captains/leaders among them. It can be exhausting to coach on top of everything else, but in many ways it’s even more refreshing to run practices and be able to mentor these students in an enjoyable and challenging athletic context. Please pray that this season provides opportunities to point the students and their families to Christ.
Our Ephesians sermon series will be finishing up this Sunday, and we are praying that next week’s Easter service will be a time when many others will have the opportunity to hear the gospel. In addition, as we have gained more young families in our congregation and anticipate the birth of four more babies within these next couple months, we will also be giving out The Jesus Storybook Bible on Easter morning to all families with children. (This is the best children’s Bible I have seen, showing how the whole of Scripture points to Jesus. I actually bought my own copy as well; it’s well worth it for children and adults!)
It’s been a privilege to teach a new members’ class that will conclude this upcoming Sunday. Two long-time members are co-leading the class with me, and three couples are participating. We spent the first week addressing the foundations of Christianity, seeking to answer the question, “What is the gospel?” The gospel is something that Christians are called to live into, not move past—so it never loses its relevance. It’s like a good book that only gets better the more we read it. The second class focused on our Reformed “accent”, with an overview of the Reformation, Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, Canons of Dort, and our denomination in particular. Our last class will focus on membership at New Hope in particular. We will discuss the history of New Hope and its membership covenant, and also the importance of addressing previous church experiences—forgiving where necessary before pursuing membership at New Hope.
As always, thank you for your prayers—I know we need them. And if you find yourself in Maine sometime in the next few years, please let me know; I will now be here past this year!