Where the pilgrimage leads…

Everyday, change happens… the second hand changes from “59” to “00,” the clock changes from 11:59 pm to 12:00 am, one day ends and another begins. Yet so many of us despise change or, at the very least, we fear it. Perhaps it’s uncertainty, the lack of knowledge pertaining to what comes next that causes us such anxiety. Maybe it’s just pure stubbornness. No matter, life has engrained into us that change is BAD.

Early on in my ministry career, I heard Adam Hamilton, pastor of Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City (okay…technically Leewood, Kansas) share that he had always been a person who loved change. It took a friend trying to change Adam’s own plans for him to realize that as humans, we love change as long as we are the person dictating the change. In reality though, the propensity of all persons, I believe, is to shy away from change. We all want to be in control. But no matter your role in change, there’s at least a brief instance where we all have to surrender control.

A few years ago I surrendered control – and what a change it was. Newlyweds, SupaLupaWife and I left behind everything we had ever known and the comforts of small town life and traded it in for Charlotte, NC. Granted, Charlotte is no Manhattan, but the Charlotte-Meck area boast a population of more than 1 million people. I think the only thing in Grayson County (where I grew up) that resembles a 1 million headcount might be the whitetail deer population. But no matter, we decided to embrace change, and moved to Charlotte so I could accept a position at St. Stephen United Methodist Church.

What a beautiful change this has been. From my first day on the campus I was endeared to St. Stephen by her vision: to be the hands, feet & heart of Jesus Christ. Not a day has gone by in the last three-and-a-half years where the spirit of this vision hasn’t changed and shaped my own personal life as well as the way I do ministry. There will never be enough words to express the gratitude I have for this congregation for welcoming me and my family into their midst. And as far as the students go, what an amazing group of young Kingdom Builders to work with. While here, we have celebrated the 25th anniversary of the annual Garden City beach retreat, the 30th anniversary of service with the Appalachia Service Project, and taken our first steps into international missions (with two more trips to Guatemala already on the calendar). Each year at St. Stephen I have continued to be amazed by the desire and passion of the students to grow deeper in their faith and share this faith with everyone they encounter. As a student minister, I couldn’t be more proud of the sustainable ministry we (the students, counselors, and myself) have at St. Stephen.

But even with such a beautiful ministry, change happens.

 

SupaLupaWife, the girls and I find ourselves standing on the ledge of the chasm of the unknown… change happens. We are fully in agreement as a family that God is calling us to Concord UMC. It is clear that as we leave behind the family that is St. Stephen, we will forever treasure our time in Charlotte and be grateful for the friendships and bonds we have formed. Now though it’s time to build the Kingdom of God somewhere else. We are extremely excited to be headed home to the Holston Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and what better place to serve than Concord UMC.

SupaLupaWife and I have a tremendously deep sense of gratitude and humility for all the kind acts, words, prayers, and thoughts of encouragement that the people of St. Stephen have shown us over the last month as the announcement came that we would be heading to Knoxville. As we finalize packing things up, the time is now upon us for the move, but know that we go with your love strengthening and encouraging us. As our pilgrimage leads us in a new direction, I would ask that as a new youth worker comes to St. Stephen that you welcome them in with the same love you showed us. More importantly though, stand alongside them in the trenches of ministry to accomplish kingdom building work.

So change happens, and this change will be no different. All we have to do is embrace the change!

 

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