Dear New Philadelphia Moravian,
Just about three and a half years ago, I received a message from David Guthrie, as PEC President, asking to meet with me. Since I didn’t think that I was in any sort of trouble, I realized that it must be to share a call to serve a new congregation. My mind began to race through all of the congregations that were open and all of the possible calls that it could be. The next day, I walked into the meeting with David absolutely convinced that there were only 2 possible calls that it could be. One that I really wanted and one that I really didn’t want. And the one that I really didn’t want was the one that it was- the call to be Associate Pastor at New Philadelphia.
I don’t really recall why I was so certain I didn’t want to receive the call to New Philadelphia. Maybe it was the size of the congregation, maybe it was the idea of working with a pastor who had been there for 30 years, maybe it was working with such a large staff, maybe it was what I thought that I knew about the church. Regardless of the reasons, I had received the call that I did not want to receive. And now I had to decide what to do about it.
The easy answer was to just say no and stay where I was. But I wanted to be sure that if I did say no, that I really knew what I was saying no to. So I read all of the call information, the stats and statements about how the Joint Board saw the congregation and how they saw me fitting in, I met with Worth, I met with the Joint Board. And then I went to Laurel Ridge for Sr High Camp. The timing was perfect. I needed to get away to think and to pray, to be in that community that has meant so much to me.
By the time that the week ended, after much prayer and lots of time sitting on top of the mountain surrounded by God’s masterpiece, I knew that I was ready to accept the call that I didn’t think I wanted. And that fall I began my ministry as your Associate Pastor.
I soon learned that all of my doubts and my fears, all of the reasons that I thought I didn’t want the call were unfounded. I loved being at New Philadelphia. What I thought I knew about the church was wrong. I loved working with the rest of the staff. I loved working with Worth. And I loved being part of such a large congregation. I loved New Philadelphia Moravian. I loved all of you.
And now the call that I didn’t want is coming to an end. With the calling of a new pastor, my service at New Philadelphia is concluding. And much like I didn’t want the call at the beginning, now that it is coming to an end, I don’t want that either. I would love to be able to continue to worship and serve with you. I am sad and disappointed and hurt that I can’t.
Yet, as I begin to reflect upon my service among you and with you and for you, I see that perhaps God called me here for a time such as this. For we have been through a lot together over the past three and a half years. There have been dizzying heights and heartbreaking lows. We have seen our church change in ways that we never imagined and right now we are experiencing our world changing in ways that we never imagined.
I am ready to see what God has planned next for New Philadelphia. And I am ready to see what God has planned next for me. During our last month together, I would love to hear from you. Actually I would love to be able to SEE you but with the pandemic, I don’t know if that will be possible. But I will be here. Call me, text me, email me, or come by. You can wear your mask and we can practice safe social distancing. However you would like, I am ready to listen to you, to laugh with you, to cry with you, as we say goodbye.
Photo by Joe Moore/Laurel Ridge