Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Nugget, Feb, 2007

Do not abandon that confidence of yours;
it brings a great reward.
For you need endurance,
so that when you have done the will of God,
you may receive what was promised.

Hebrews 10.35-36
Having been with you so long, it feels like we are fast friends, with a strong relationship that could go on indefinitely. You have been supportive of my work, and I have been enjoying our time together tremendously. Let’s face it, our relationship has been very good for both of us!

For this reason I want to say how much I appreciate all of you and the many ways that you have blessed my life. Your generosity is tremendously appreciated. Your welcome of Cindy and me has meant more to us that we can say. We thank you for being our church family.

The fact of the matter is that since the beginning of our relationship – over a year and a half ago – we have understood that I am your Interim Pastor, and you are my Interim Congregation. The Search Committee continues their work of seeking a settled Pastor for this Church, and I continue to focus my attention on the transition of this Congregation.

It is gratifying for me that the church is doing so well during this Interim Time. The standard measures for the health of the church remain good – worship attendance remains fairly constant, we have added a dozen or so new members in the last year, our pledges for 2007 are actually up almost 10% over last year, and the programs of the church continue steady with some growth.

Besides all that, there is a wonderful spirit among our members, our worship services are positive and uplifting, and our relationship to our community remains healthy and strong. All in all, life at First Congregational Church is good. We can be confident in the quality of life we share and in our prospects for the future. And all of this is happening while we are in the midst of a transition from one settled pastor to another.

You, the members and the fine staff of this church, can be proud of how well you have done under the circumstances. You deserve a word of appreciation for remaining faithful in a time of uncertainty and change. It speaks well of the health and strength and recent history of this congregation that you have continued so steadfast. I would like to think that I have had a part in making that happen, but the fact of the matter is that it is a team effort, which has required the diligence of each one.

This Interim Time is, however, proving to be longer than we had expected. I smile to think that when I first came to this church, the Interim Search Committee and I agreed to a 6 month contract, thinking that might be long enough! Here we are 21 months later, and the Search continues. For those of you unfamiliar with the Search process in the UCC, that may seem like a long time, suggesting something is very wrong. But the fact of the matter is that it is not all that unusual. But it does require a measure of patience and endurance. It also calls for the need to continue in faithful witness while in transition. We are in a waiting time to be sure – not static waiting, but waiting in anticipation.

So keep the church, and the Search Committee in your prayers. Our Committee continues diligently as they seek a settled pastor for this church. Their work is low key, by design, but their efforts and their goal remain constant.
We do not know what the future will bring, or when future changes will happen. But we do know that with faith, patience and the grace of our Creator, we can be assured that God is still with us, still speaking, and that our future will be bright.

Steve Shepard
Interim Pastor