The people of God have always been journey people. We are called to walk by faith, as God called Abraham to leave the familiar things and follow to a place that God would show him (Genesis 12:1). We walk by faith, not by sight, in the assurance that God has a plan as Jeremiah assured the exiles: “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
After the announcement of my appointment to serve Port Huron First beginning July 1, 2017, I shared in worship and fully believe that God has given the church every good gift needed for the equipping of the saints for ministry and the calling of unbelievers to faith. The church is larger than just this body of believers, as you know. In the UM church we are a connectional system. As God calls servants to lead the local churches and the cabinet and bishop deploy us, doing their best to line up gifts with the needs of local churches. Although my time to use my gifts here at Bethany did not last as long as we thought it might, I am first and always will be first and foremost a servant of Jesus Christ. He called me out of the context of the United Methodist church. In the United Methodist Church pastors move.
Pastor Bill Wright is retiring from his service to the church and I will follow him into ministry to the community of Port Huron. As I move from this place, another pastor will follow me to be in ministry among you. Let’s make it practice to begin to pray for these transitions, for while we all serve within the same system, we also have families, and friends, and connections within communities that have to be set aside. Let’s pray for the cabinet and the bishop as they discern who will be assigned to Bethany church and the community of Clio.
We have a long time of transition with the early announcement of this change. Let’s make the most of it! Reflect on the past several years of the life of Bethany Church, and begin to dream about what God might be preparing to do here in the next several years. Begin now to pray for Bethany’s next clergy leader and seek God’s wisdom and guidance for a healthy transition.
We have begun some good work together and that will continue. Here are some good questions to continue to ask ourselves: In light of the mission of the church to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world – or in simpler terms – to deepen our personal relationships with Jesus and call unbelievers to faith – where are we making progress? Where do we need to change direction? What is God calling us to do and to be to reach those who have not yet known and believed that God loves them? What is the Spirit saying to us as a congregation? What work needs to be done in us so that God can better work through us?
Most importantly, never underestimate the power of prayer. Begin to pray for your new pastor. Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 and recognize how God works in seasons to accomplish his purposes. Ask God to reveal what God is doing here and now. Ask God to prepare you for what is to come. Above all, trust that God is working for good in all things, and remain positive – look for the good and you will see the beauty.
Continue to pursue the mission of God for Bethany church in the Clio community. Examine your motives and seek that Jesus if lifted up and glorified in every thought word and deed. I will continue to walk with you, to support and encourage as you prepare for what and who comes next for Bethany Church!
In prayer and in peace,