This past year was not just another notch on the handle of my life, it was a remarkable year for many reasons. Here are a few of those reasons …
-I preached 12 funerals, participated in a 13th and participated in the later spreading/burying the ashes of 2 people whose funeral I had preached. In all, I was involved 15 ceremonies honoring the life of 13 people this past year. That is both a highlight for the opportunity to honor and celebrate the life of some wonderful people and it was difficult in sharing the grief of those families.
-When the year began I was pastoring 2 churches and overseeing a 3rd. When the year finished I was pastoring 1 church and still overseeing another one. I chose to finish pastoring the second church at the end of August. I began that assignment with the idea of helping that church through some transition. My hope was that I would lead them into a new future. That did not happen. It became obvious that some in that church did not desire to move in the direction I am convinced they needed to go. Therefore, I made the difficult decision to leave that position. I am still at the church I have been with since January of 2014 and I am still overseeing another church who has their own Campus Pastor. I am loving my role with these two churches.
-2017 started poorly for me. New Year’s Day was on a Sunday, and I was brutally sick. So sick that I did not preach, or even go to church. It was the first Sunday morning I had ever missed because of illness in all my years of ministry. I didn’t even miss after I had back surgery. I had that surgery on a Monday and preached that Sunday with staples still in me. It wasn’t very wise of me, but I didn’t miss that Sunday. I was so sick this time that I couldn’t even get up and attempt to go.
-This past year had a lot of loss. Not all the losses were related to funerals. My Associate Pastor and family left for another assignment in October. We were not able to pay him full-time and he was working 40 hours a week at another job while on staff with me. He was offered a full-time position at a wonderful church (I must confess that I wasn’t thinking wonderful thoughts about that pastor or church when he left, but I understood.) It was a big loss and we are still scrambling to cover some of the areas he filled.
-Last summer was our denomination’s quadrennial meeting. Where visitors and delegates from all over the world gather in one place for inspiration, fellowship and business. It is always a great time of catching up with friends and making new acquaintances. Our time there was cut short due to a funeral. The time we did spend there was so positive.
-Our Vacation Bible School was a great success. Some children made personal decisions for Christ. The kids brought in around $1,700 for missions. Many children attended. Some families have continued to attend.
-Our children’s ministries have grown 2 to 3 times the size they were a couple of years ago.
-We were able to begin some regular youth ministry.
-I made several trips to visit my Dad. Unfortunately, many of them were prompted by his failing health. With all his health issues the decision was made for him to move into an Assisted Living location. The Lord blessed, and we were able to find a wonderful place, He is doing better now.
-My wife and I didn’t get all the vacation we had intended. However, we were able to get a week away in Florida the last week of May, thanks to the help of some friends. It was a wonderful time together. That sun and sand sounds good right about now.
-This year we have witnessed 30 people make decisions to accept Jesus as their personal Savior!
-We were blessed to get a better vehicle in the early part of 2017.
-My wife continues to serve in ministry as my partner and does more serving in our church than seems humanly possible. We also, celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary in 2017.
-Not being able to be with our son, daughter-in-law and their children is always difficult. But knowing they are following God’s call as missionaries in Africa helps to ease that pain. God’s hand of protection was definitely on them as they had to be in an emergency evacuation just before Easter.
-Spending some time with our daughters, sons-in-law and grandkids was so much fun. We just weren’t able to do it often enough. I am truly blessed with an awesome family.
-On Easter Sunday we saw 7 people accept Christ and 192 people worship with us. In December we witnessed 3 people accept Christ and we had 210 people worship with us on one Sunday. Praying for more and more Sundays like these this coming year.
-I continued to serve as a Chaplain at our local hospital at least one day a week.
-I began to help teach a class at the prison located just outside our community. The class is on fatherhood and I am teaching it with a couple of other local pastors.
-I also was given the opportunity to help coach volleyball with the 7th and 8th grade teams at the local school. I am really enjoying getting back into coaching volleyball. I love the opportunity to impact, and influence, youth in whatever way possible.
-There are many other things I could share from the year, but you have probably stopped reading by now so I will close this out.
-2018 looks to be an exciting and challenging year. I can’t wait to see all that God has in store this year.
Here’s hoping that you are excited about the possibilities around you as this new year begins.