In Touch – March 1, 2013
Posted on March 1, 2013 by under Touché,

Houston, Do We Have a Problem?

Mark Mast and I will be traveling to Houston, Texas this week to begin the Ridder process of personal and congregational renewal.  Pastors from the East Coast and some other places around the country will gather at a retreat house for a time of reflection and renewal in ministry.  HRC’s leadership has voted to be a part of the Ridder process, which is a three to five year journey of congregational transformation.  It starts with pastoral leaders, but in the fall will work with a congregational leadership team.  This is a great “dovetail” with REVEAL; as some of the initiatives that we will be working on from REVEAL are developed, they will be deepened through the transformation that is encouraged in Ridder.

At our meeting in February, consistory approved a sabbatical time for me this summer.  This will extend my summer vacation to include time for refreshment and discernment for the next chapters in ministry at Hopewell.  Eight years ago, I received a Lilly grant for an extended sabbatical that focused on “The Seasons of a Pastor’s Life”.  This sabbatical will focus on “The Seasons of a Church’s Life.”  I have attached the approved proposal to this In Touch and it will be included in the spring edition of Hopewell Happenings.  I am thankful to be serving in a place that values seasons of refreshment and discernment, and I look forward to some time away from the pulpit and day-to-day ministry to hear from God in special ways, reflecting on where we are headed as a church.

Last night at our elders meeting, the elders talked about some things they feel that I need to focus on in the Ridder process and during the time of sabbatical.  It was a difficult meeting to share in, but I believe things are coming together, designed by God, to bear fruit in new and more abundant ways through the ministry of HRC.  The pruning process may be tough, but the goal is to see the glory of God revealed in more of its fullness before us.

Yesterday I was making a pastoral visit in a psychiatric hospital.  When a woman, who was a bit confused, heard that I was a pastor, she came up to me and said: “you know what my favorite verse is?  Jeremiah 29:11.” “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”  It was a great word for a patient in a psychiatric hospital.  It was a great word for a preacher starting on a journey of transformation.

Please be at prayer for your pastors next week.  Pray that God will open the plans for us and for the future of this church.

It is a joy to serve with you,