God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
-Psalm 46:1-3 (NRSV)
These words are some of the words I cherish most in all of Scripture. These words have helped carry me through almost fifty years of life and twenty-three years of ordained ministry. These words remind me of who God is and how capable God is at handling challenges, no matter how large and strong they may be. These words provide a place to rest and trust in the Lord of the Universe who always reigns. I am thankful for these words as they provide a basis to approach life and to navigate the inevitable changes that come our way.
As a church we are dealing with a lot of change right now. Only a few weeks ago we learned that our Student Pastor, Mike Sciascia, will be leaving at the end of the summer to begin his seminary education as he pursues God’s call of ordained ministry. On April 28 you heard the news that our preschool ministry is in jeopardy due to code issues with our building. This vital ministry hangs in the balance with the most likely outcome being that we will not be able to pursue preschool ministries without significant changes to our facilities. Families and teachers have been advised to make other plans. Then, this past Sunday it was announced that Pastor Anita will be moving come the end of June. As Chuck Morris (Staff Parish Relations Chair) said - this was a surprise for Anita and a surprise for the church. Neither party requested a move, it happened by virtue of the Bishop and Cabinet (the District Superintendents along with the Assistant to the Bishop) recognizing in Anita the gifts to lead as a Sr. Pastor. She will be serving Midway UMC in Kannapolis. Anita will be sharing more about this in the weeks to come. We will be getting a new associate pastor in July, this persons name will be announced next week.
These are large scale changes that will have significant impact on the life of our church and ministries. So if you feel a little unsettled right now, that is normal and ok. It is hard not to be somewhat disoriented when this level of change comes one's way.
So what do we do? We listen once again to these words. . . .
“Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change”,
The Psalmists proclaims this truth even as the waters of chaos soak his writing desk. We do not fear because God does not fear. We do not dread the future because God does not dread the future.
So here is what we are going to do:
We will celebrate God growing the Kingdom by deploying Anita and Mike to larger areas of service and influence.
We will grieve their leaving by lovingly and graciously expressing our appreciation for all they have done for this church.
We will prayerfully and energetically welcome their successors as we carry on with the work God has given us in this place.
We will pray for our preschool teachers as they find new jobs.
We will pray for our preschool families as they find new settings for their children.
We will ensure that all future facility use will be properly planned, vetted, and inspected to ensure that the pain our preschool ministry is experiencing now will never again occur.
Finally, and most importantly we will trust that God is at work in all of this, setting a course we can count on even as we are unclear of the exact details. We are promised that God is at work bringing good,
“Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild animals will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise.” Isaiah 43: 19-21 (NRSV).