This has been my view on most mornings for the past nine years. Anniversaries are always a time to reflect on the past and often times, to contemplate the future. That is where I find myself this week as it marks the beginning of the tenth year for Diane and me at Wesley Chapel. After serving the Lord Jesus for six years at the Mason UMC in Mason County, He saw fit to send/bring us to Short Gap. In the UMC the Bishop and cabinet prayerfully decide where pastors serve. Pastors and churches can make their desires known, but like making requests to God, you never know when you will receive a “yes” or a “something else” from your prayer. Our request was not granted nine years ago when our desire was to remain in Mason. That is not to say that God was not in it, we know He was. But this system of sending pastors means that every year we hold our breath in late winter and early spring when appointments begin being announced. Moving is difficult physically in packing up and unpacking, and is even more difficult emotionally for the clergy family and the churches. We know we are now officially appointed to Short Gap for at least one more year, which runs until July 1, 2023. At this point in our lives we are praying that we finish out our time in the UMC here in Short Gap. Should God grant us an eleventh year here for the 2023-2024 appointment year, I will turn 62 and will qualify for early retirement from the UMC. I will certainly not retire retire at 62, but would be permitted to officially retire from the UMC.
2024 will be a pivotal year for us personally, for Wesley Chapel Short Gap, and for the entire UMC. A General Conference will almost certainly have to be held and the future of the UMC will hopefully become clearer. Life changing decisions will be imminent for all affiliated with the UMC. What is decided by the UMC General Conference and by Wesley Chapel will not be the only factor, but will influence mine and Diane’s UMC retirement decision. In the mean time we wait. And as we wait, we continue to work.
We work to proclaim Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. We proclaim that there is no other name by which to be saved. We proclaim that the Word of God is inspired and perfect, even as we acknowledge there are parts we do not understand. We proclaim that Jesus died on the cross to save people from their sins. We proclaim that He rose from the dead to overcome death for those who follow Him. We proclaim that He calls us to pick up our cross daily. We proclaim that for those who believe this, repent of their sin, and follow Him… that His grace and forgiveness make up for the difference between the lives we live and the holy lives He expects of us.
While we will spend the rest of our lives proclaiming Jesus, we give thanks for the privilege of doing so for one more year in Short Gap.