Happy Anniversary! This month we will celebrate eight years of ministry together. When I began my call with you in February of 2010, I never could have imagined all of the ways the Holy Spirit would stir and God would be at work in and through us. As I shared at our recent congregational meeting, being your pastor is my "dream job." When I first felt called to ministry in the seventh grade, I hoped to one day be the Senior Pastor of a vibrant, growing and active congregation just like the one in which I grew up. Abiding Presence is that congregation!
Growing up, church was the place I loved to be. The rhythm of my week was shaped by worship on Sundays, choir practice on Tuesdays (while you might not know it from my chanting, I sang in the church choir from the time I was three through my senior year of choir) and helping with our children's program on Wednesday afternoons. I had trusted adults who cared about me, took an interest in my life and mentored me through my teenage years when I needed an "adult voice" and had no interest in listening to the wisdom of my parents. When I was having a hard time, I knew I could turn to my pastors and I actually did on many occasions. My home congregation, First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ellicott City, Maryland, planed seeds in me to love Jesus and provided me with relationships and experiences that grew roots that connected me to the church for a lifetime.
It is my joy to watch Abiding Presence plant the same seeds and grow the same roots in the next generation of faithful followers that my congregation once planted in me. It's even more exciting to watch the seeds and roots this congregation has planted over the past 40 years take shape. Our current Sunday School teachers, confirmation mentors and youth advisers include several adults who grew up in this congregation.
This past weekend we baptized Tom and El Porter's great-granddaughter, Lucia. Many of the previous generations of Abiding Presence youngsters and our current children and teens will tell you about Tom and El's role in helping to shape their faith. As I said to the congregation on Sunday at Lucia's baptism, we all now get to do for Lucia what Tom and El once did for us and our kids. This is just one example of the many, many ways we are being church together.
Starting this weekend, you'll begin to see information about the campaign to replace the sanctuary chairs in honor of the 40th anniversary. These chairs aren't just furnishings, they are representations of the generations of Abiding Presence family and friends who will gather together for the next 40 years to worship God, grow in discipleship and mark life milestones. They are an investment in the future of our faith family that will provide a physical place for people to gather so that seeds of loving Jesus can be planted and roots can grow as relationships develop and experiences are created.
Thank you for the joy and privilege of living out my calling by being your pastor. I am grateful for you and I am excited about what our future together holds.