I can’t begin to tell you the range of emotions my family and I have experienced over the past year. This process of considering a call to another church has been everything from exhilarating to heart-wrenching. I want to share with you the events that led to my accepting a call to serve in Lexington, Ky.
I was contact by a church last October that was looking for a senior pastor and had been given my name. This was the first time since I’ve been at CCC that this has happened. My first response was “not interested.” But the church persisted, so I agreed to interview.
I heard from that church in January that they had hired someone else. While we didn’t receive a call to that church, the process of interviewing caused Leigh and me to step back and look at our life situation. Was God nudging us to consider our next chapter in ministry? Would this be a good time in our lives to move? We had lived here for eight years, the church was in a very healthy place, and the girls would be going to new schools in the fall. While we didn’t feel like we had to move, we decided that we were open to the idea if the right situation presented itself.
So we put our papers out (our denomination’s equivalent of circulating your resume) in late January. The advantage of doing so in our denomination is that you can be very specific about where this happens. Because of our desire to be closer to our families, we chose to circulate our papers in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. We never heard from Ohio; we heard there were no openings in Tennessee; and the two churches we heard from in Indiana didn’t fit what we were looking for. That left Kentucky. If there was nothing there, we were more than happy to stay in Illinois and continue serving our wonderful church family here.
On February 25, I received an email from Wayne Shaver, the search committee chair at Crestwood Christian Church in Lexington. That was followed by a phone interview with the committee in March and a visit to Lexington in April. The more I talked with the church, the more I realized that this would be a good fit and a natural next step for me in my ministry.
But apart from the church, Leigh and I felt this would be a good move for us for several other reasons:
• It would put us within about an hour or so of both our families (including our aging parents).
• We would be able to live within 5-10 minutes of the church.
• Because of the more moderate climate, Leigh would be able to do her photography year-round.
When we took those factors into consideration, along with the potential of the church, we felt that God was at work and we were being called to serve in Lexington. We made a family visit on July 18-19 and I preached my “audition sermon.” The church voted unanimously the following Sunday, July 26th, to call me as their senior pastor.
During this past year, I have struggled greatly with the tension I was feeling between loving and serving this church and feeling called to serve another church. I have never experienced this before and found it a profoundly difficult experience. I’m still coming to terms with the fact that we are actually going to be leaving CCC. I think I have tried to conveniently block out that fact until now.
Until my last day on Oct. 25, I am committed to working for you and serving with you as this church focuses on the future. One of the reasons I feel comfortable leaving now is that CCC is very healthy and poised to move forward. This congregation will be a very attractive one for potential candidates, and I believe God will bless you with just the right person to help you grow into the future.
Like me, I’m sure you may have experienced a range of emotions as you learned of my news. I want to make sure you have an opportunity to share with me whatever you would like – anger, sadness, joy, etc. Even if you are hesitant to express those feelings to me, I assure you I want to hear them. My door is open and I am going to focus my remaining two months on ending my time with you in a healthy way, so let’s find a time to talk. I will save my goodbyes for the October newsletter; I’m not ready to say them quite yet! For now I will simply say what a privilege it is to be your pastor.
OUR JOURNEY TOGETHER
As I’ve looked back over our past eight years together, I’ve been amazed at the ways God has used us to further the work of this church. I thought I would try to capture some of those accomplishments. This is not a list of what I have done; it is a list of what we have done, or what God has done through us. I’m sure I’m forgetting some things, but this gives you an idea of the blessings of the past eight years.
Some things that have happened since July 2001:
• Creation of the choir scholarships for the “Northwestern boys”
• A sanctuary renovation (Stained glass, new carpet, reconfiguration of chancel area)
• Enhancements in our worship service (use of a liturgist, new Chalice hymnals)
• Increase in l00ay-lead worship services (Youth Sunday, Lay Sunday, Hymn Sings)
• Seven mission trips, include two to New Orleans
• Budgeted support of two overseas missionaries
• Participation in Habit for Humanity workdays
CHURCH AND COMMUNITY LIFE
• Of the 123 families in the directory, 55 have come to CCC during this time
• Complete Constitution revision, which included the creation of Ministries Council
• Community-focused events like the Easter Egg Hunt and Trick or Trunk
• Creation of the church website and the Weekly Word email
• Completion and implementation of the Long Range Plan
• Participation in Lincolnshire 4th of July parade
• Start of the Memorial Woods project
• Creation of the TNT (Twenties and Thirties) Young Adult Group
• Increased emphasis on the prayers of the church (Prayer Banner, Lenten Prayer Program, Prayer Cards, etc.)
• 16 weddings, 9 funerals, and (since 2005) 26 baptisms/confirmations
• Creation of Stephen Ministry Program
• Creation of the Elders Shepherding Program
• Creation of the Youth Leadership Team and new youth group (Alive! for 5th and 6th graders)
• Tuesday morning Bible studies (we’ll start studying our 15th biblical book – Hebrews – this fall)
• Implementation of the Workshop Rotation Model for Sunday School
• Building of the Youth Room Wall (still in progress!)