Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Home Stretch, June 07

Let us hold fast
to the confession of our hope
without wavering,
for God who has promised
is faithful.
Hebrews 10.23

As I write this I am sitting in my room at Asilomar during the Annual Meeting of our UCC Conference. It has been a rich and rewarding experience with 7 others from our church, and several hundred others from around Northern California.

The highlight of the weekend were the presentations by Ken Samuel, a mega-church pastor in the Atlanta area. After much thought, he and his congregation decided to affiliate with the United Church of Christ, a decision fraught with difficulties. But faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ compelled him and his church to make the move. It has not been easy for them, but it has given him and the several thousand members of that church a new sense of living faithful to the love of God for all people.

The weekend at Asilomar was inspiring, restful and very enjoyable. But through it all my mind was on matters at home in Murphys. As you probably know by now, the Search Committee, after many months of looking at profiles, has selected a candidate to present to the congregation for consideration.

Just a few weeks ago we were wondering if the process would ever reach a conclusion. “We could go on like this for another four years,” one person said to me the day before the announcement. Then suddenly we turned a corner, and here we are, making plans for the candidating weekend, and anticipating what may very well be the arrival later this summer of a new pastor to serve this congregation.

Much will need to be done before that, of course. Much of what will occur in coming weeks are shared in this edition of the Nugget. Please read about all the plans very carefully. And be a part of the gatherings that will take place and the information that will be shared as we move into this final phase of the Interim Process.

I am filled with mixed feelings, of course. I have served you for over two years now, and consider myself blessed indeed to have been your Interim Pastor. It has been a wonderful experience. As with the conclusion of any chapter in one’s life, I feel sadness to see it end. But more importantly there is a sense of satisfaction and gratification. This is what our time together has been all about. This is exactly what we have been anticipating ever since Pastor John left in March 2005.

Part of the gratification that I feel is due to the fact that the process has had great integrity all along the way. The Search Committee deserves thanks for their diligence and their fine work. To a great extent what is happening right now is simply a reflection of the overall health and vitality of the congregation, and the constant faith of each of you.

Many of you have asked, “What will you do now?” Cindy and I have not yet decided what is ahead for us. We will probably take some time off before I consider another Interim. But at this point there is still a great need to remain focused on finishing my ministry here among you.

There is work yet to be done: one big congregational decision to make, lots of plans to be formulated and details to be carried out. Even the final part of an Interim process takes effort and requires careful attention. But through it all I encourage you to remain strong and faithful to the call to be servants of the still-speaking God, who remains our constant guide.

Steve Shepard
Interim Pastor