Jill Duffield gives her first benediction after being installed as FPC’s 12th Senior Pastor.

I find myself re-living the afternoon of October 17 over and over again, each time finding more reasons to give thanks to God.

The members of the commission, the music, the choir, the weather, the lemonade on the lawn, the sermon, the PNC seated together, members of my family there to support me, and YOU in the pews and online! While it was difficult to wait so long to be installed, I must say it felt all the sweeter given the delay. When Keith invited me to look around the sanctuary, I was overcome with joy at the sight of your masked faces. (Tim Cook’s incredible solo had already made me cry!)

Given that we’ve been in ministry together almost a year, I saw people I knew and loved. Answering “yes” to those constitutional questions came with an even deeper determination to serve Christ with you because we’ve already been through a lot together.

The afternoon of October 17, 2021, will be counted as one of the best occasions not just of my ministry, but of my life. Thank you for making it possible. I am grateful beyond measure to be your pastor. As I embarrassed my daughter and danced down the aisle to the beat of the bongos, I thought: “I can’t believe I am here.” I thought: “I know God is here.” I thought: “I am so happy to have all of these people here.” I thought: “I wish Dolly could be here.” (She would have danced with me, without embarrassment.) I thought: “I trust the Spirit will always be here.”

There is no way to know what we will face moving forward, but I know with certainty that God will show us the way. You are a beautiful bunch of disciples who’ve been faithful in little and much for almost 200 years. Now I have the incredible gift of grace to join you in the work of this place.

My almost year with you has been filled with joy and laughter, sadness and tears, challenges and opportunities, more questions than answers, but through it all, I hope you have felt surrounded by Christ’s love. I know I have, through you.

So, thank you. It is good to be officially installed as the 12th senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Greensboro. I promise to give you my very best. I pray to steward this office well while I occupy it, I hope for many years to come. I already love you and can’t wait to love you more.