Today I read the first Clergy Corner I wrote in January of 2001. I said this: “Our task shall be to discover what kind of church God wants us to be … and then moving boldly in faith toward that vision.”
It has been a great blessing and adventure to be a part of this chapter of First Presbyterian’s history. I still take pause that I am only the 11th senior pastor in 194 years. The math speaks volumes: Long pastorates are a sign of a healthy congregation.
These 18 years have offered their challenges (of course), but what I have always loved about First Prez is that when we have a problem, we roll up our sleeves, seek God’s guidance, gather collective wisdom and get to work. No minister could ask for anything more.
As I reflect on our ministry, there are many things I celebrate. However, the common thread in those accomplishments can be boiled down to this: I have always been inspired when I have worked alongside you and together we knew we were about something bigger than ourselves. Whatever we have accomplished together, it has been that spirit that has made our work meaningful.
I have often said that the Gospel is about relationships and that everything else is a footnote. It has been the relationships (congregational and staff) that have grounded me, given me hope and joy. Even preaching, which has required my focus and energy, is really about the relationships: our relationship with God, the relationships we have with one another, and the relationship that you and I have as pastor and parishioner. Every time I am a preacher at another church, I have the certain feeling that my sermons are a bit flat. I’ve discovered why: it’s because I don’t have a relationship with the listeners.
I have said it before … I’ll say it again: You have a great future before you!
Cathy and I have grateful hearts for our time together.
The peace of Christ be with you.
Senior Pastor Sid Batts