Allow me to begin by sharing with you the story of my call to ministry.
God began to make me aware of His plans for my life when I was very young and that call was confirmed as I would consider vocations other than pastoral ministry, but He wouldn’t let me get away from His plan. The call kept getting stronger until it was clear that if I was going to follow Him, I was going to be a pastor. Later, He added a counseling ministry to that call, especially to clergy and their families.
He helped me to prepare through my education at Northwestern, Eastern Nazarene College, and Nazarene Theological Seminary. 10 years into my pastoral ministry career He helped me to further my education at Edinboro University to prepare me for the development of my counseling ministry.
Following seminary he led Carol and me to the Monroeville Church where I was part of a church plant until we moved to Edinboro in 1985 for me to pastor that good congregation from which I resigned to go to Edinboro University to earn a degree in psychology. Carol and I joined with this congregation in 1990 and I was a part-time associate working with my father, who had been here since 1953. One year later he passed away and I agreed to be your pastor for a one year interim. That was 28 years ago and God has permitted me to continue to work with this wonderful church.
So today, I bring you my 28th and final Annual Pastor’s Report. Yes, I will be retiring at the end of October, this year. It is time for me to transition out of full-time pastoral ministry to be a full-time husband, father, and grandfather. I have communicated this to our Church Board and to our District Superintendent, Rev. Dan Eddings, and I look forward to filling the pulpit in churches during their interim or when their pastor is away. I also believe that God may continue to use me to assist other churches to become better organized so that they can more smoothly function and to come alongside other pastors and their spouses to encourage them in their ministry. Carol and I plan to travel and spend plenty of time with family.
It has been my privilege to be your pastor and to serve God together with you for these 28 years and I look forward to these next six months as we prepare for your transition and Carol’s and my transition. You are a wonderful congregation in so many ways. You have loved us and been gracious with us. You have supported us and prayed for us through some very challenging times in this life’s journey.
I firmly believe that you are ready for this transition and I have been bragging on you to DS Eddings. I have told him of the excellent leaders that we have in our congregation and about how so many of you are involved in ministry. I have explained to him that this congregation does not depend on the pastor for ministries to function but that you know what you are doing and are doing it.
It is my goal to have you fully prepared for this transition spiritually, emotionally, administratively, and financially. It is my sincere hope that no one will leave the congregation because Carol and I are leaving, but that you will continue serving God together as a unified congregation. It is my prayer that God will lead you to the right pastor for you and that God will, even now, prepare the heart of that pastor and their family. It will be an affirmation of my years of ministry with you to see you grow spiritually and numerically during this transitional phase and on into your working with your new pastor.
This past year has been a good solid year for the church in many ways. It has been my privilege to work alongside and help to train our associate pastors Tonya Hockenberry and newly ordained Connie Young. Sunday School ministries has done very well under Tonya’s leadership and we have enjoyed her preaching ministry, as well. Connie has done a great job keeping us focused on discipleship through various discipleship groups and through continuing to challenge us with the questions, “Who is discipling you? and Who are you discipling?” We have benefited from her excellent preaching of God’s word and her involvement in others parts of our ministry. I feel that my ministry will continue on through them wherever God chooses to place them. It has been wonderful to work with a very dedicated Church Board and department heads. God has blessed us financially this year with special gifts totaling between $80,000 and 85,000, mostly designated gifts, that have enabled us to pay Connie a small salary and to accomplish many projects with the building and grounds. We must continue to be faithful in our regular tithes and offerings in order to fully fund our ministries. Thank you to Randy Hites, Head Trustee, and to the other trustees and the many volunteers. God has blessed us with excellent employees: Denise Hites—Treasurer; Jenifer Crowl—Administrative Assistant; and Shirley Copeland—Custodian. They each go way above and beyond the expectations of their job and I appreciate them and know that you do as well! We have had many step up and accept nominations for our Annual Meeting today, which indicates a healthy atmosphere in the congregation resulting in you being willing to participate. New people are coming to church, for which I am very glad and many are growing in their knowledge and application of the Word of God in their lives.
I want to leave you with Carol’s favorite verse, which is also a favorite verse of many of you. It is God’s promise to Carol and me as we move forward in life and it is God’s promise to you as a congregation.
Jer 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.