God willing, Sunday I will be ordained in the United Methodist Church. It’s been a 10 year journey – from the early stages of going through UMC processes, to finishing my undergraduate degree (2 1/2 years), to getting a masters degree (3 years), to UMC residency (3 years). However, like our Christian walk, it has not been about a destination for me. It’s about the journey that God has allowed me to make and will continue to lead me on until my dying days. Ordination is another step along that journey.
It’s a journey that started for me at the Sistersville First United Methodist Church, in Sistersville, WV. That church has no idea how God used them to encourage me and equip me with the tools I needed to have a blessed six year ministry in Mason. Under the leadership of Pastor Brian Seders, that body of believers sent three people into the ministry to pastor churches, two of us full time and the other the first Certified Lay Minister in the conference. There are others from that time who I believe will still end up in pastoral ministry.
Not only did those people help put me and others into ministry, but I continue to draw on what that church is doing. We copied their backpack ministry to send food home in backpacks with elementary school students who might not have a lot of food at home for the weekend. Last night at our board meeting there was some talk about what we will ever do with a piece of property we bought a few years ago (land adjacent to our church) and how we might be better off selling it. I shared with them that we had the same discussions about a piece of property at Sistersville before Diane and I left there for Mason. We had no clue when or what we would do with that property in Sistersville, only that we should hold onto it. As it turns out, God ended up giving someone there a vision to build a community prayer chapel to be open 24 hours a day and it now stands as a testament to me of how God will work it out in His time.
The Mason UMC is now every bit the force for Jesus that the Sistersville FUMC has been for the last 15 years. My prayer is that the Mason UMC can withstand the pastoral change and maintain the momentum that God has given them, just as the Sistersville FUMC did when Pastor Brain Seders left there. I thank God for the Sistersville First United Methodist Church and pray that we would all be such a faithful force for Jesus.