July 5, 2018
In May of this year I began my 12th year as Associate for Pastoral Care here at First Presbyterian Church. What a tremendous privilege it has been for me to serve Christ’s church in this capacity for such a long time.
I love what I do. I especially cherish the sacred space I enter when meeting with members of our congregation as they walk through life’s challenging and important times. Sitting in my office or standing in a hospital with a member, be it when they are learning of a medical diagnosis or gathering to plan a funeral; from premarital counseling to seeking guidance for help with an aging parent. I consider it a gift to be able to be in conversation, prayer, and to support people during these seasons of life.
For the first eight years of my overall ministry (way before coming to Richmond!), I served as a youth minister, and one of the first things I learned in my leadership training was to resist the temptation of being a “lone ranger.” Youth need more than one adult from the church in their lives. I was told, “You might be the best youth minister there is, but you won’t be worth anything if you don’t train other adults to walk alongside the youth.”
This became a significant part of my youth ministry. When I heard the call to Pastoral Care Ministry, I knew the lone ranger mentality could easily take hold, and it was important for me to train others how to offer compassionate care so that I wouldn’t be the only one.
This part of my work at FPC Richmond has been rewarding. The congregation has been so very receptive. We have so many members from Presbyterian Women, Diaconate, and the Welcome Center team, all who are offering care and support to our church members. I am especially excited about the expansion of our Diaconate Ministry in the last year and the sole focus of our deacons now being Compassionate Care Ministry.
I have also been blessed to help grow our church and build relationships within it. We have done this through our Discover First program, FPC 101, and more. But I have also seen gaps in these areas of our church life. As my ministry has matured and evolved, I have felt called to grow and work in the larger life of our congregation, and help to fill these gaps. I see the potential for relationships to deepen and our doors to open wider to offer even greater fellowship and hospitality in this church and community.
Over the past year and after much prayer and conversation, I asked the Personnel Committee to work with me in adjusting my position to Associate Pastor for Congregational Life. I will still be “doing” pastoral care, for that is my passion – I simply will be offering that ministry, as I have been doing, within my broader ministry within the life of the congregation.
As Pastor for Congregational Life, I will be looking for opportunities for the full congregation to come together in fellowship and growth. It will be about relationship building. It might include helping the Music Ministry offer church-wide fellowship, or organizing a church-wide retreat. There are lots of opportunities for us to support the congregation and its life together, to deepen relationships and to invite more of God’s children to be involved in our church. To learn more, see Charles’ article from First News Weekly, and here’s a link to my new job description.
I look forward to working with the elders, who have been called to serve on our new Congregational Life Committee, and together we will invite church members to work with us. Are you interested in serving?
Thank you in advance for your prayers and support for my new position and for our church as we seek to expand our Congregational Life together.
Thanks for listening,