Newark Central -- 10-31-12 Notes From My Knapsack
Thank you for welcoming me home!
Joyce and Chris and I want to thank everyone, both here at Newark Central and all the family and special guests from other churches in town, and of course Dr. Ann Updegraff Spleth & Rev. Steve Bentley from the region, for such a wonderful occasion of worship . . . and installation!
It was a wonderful day and part of a great week where we continue to live out that vision and mission we have for God's good news here at Mt. Vernon & Rugg. It really started with the neighborhood trick-or-treat and so many of you helping greet and welcome over 200 kids, plus lots of parents, who came by the church during Newark's official "Beggars Night." Lots of great conversations with parents around the edges, and plenty of orange colored notes with the candy letting families know when our services are, and how to learn more about us.
Then the Holiday Bazaar, a great tradition of the Christian Women's Fellowship of our church. The funds they raise go to mission work around the community, Ohio, and the world, plus we get to welcome many who might not have entered the building otherwise . . . but pie and crafts get them in the doors, even on rainy days!
And our – I would say *our* installation – where we looked back over ministries and stories of this congregation that have shaped us, and looked ahead to where God is calling us, and for which you called me to shepherd and pastor (and herd cats!) towards.
Ann and I got to ramble about town and see the Cedar Run Lodge her father also helped build, and told her more "John Updegraff stories" I've heard from you all, and yes, I took her past the earthworks, too.
We both agreed that it was a truly special thing you did in presenting me not only with the "shepherd's staff" – a tradition begun by Dr. Rick Rintamaa which I suspect will be part of this church for many years and ministers to come – but also a reminder to take time away for family, and for personal renewal. Ann as head of our Disciples' Homeland Ministries saw in those years of service how clergy can forget that, and it happens most appropriately when it's the congregation saying "we want this for you, because our ministry together will be stronger for it." Steve Bentley said much the same on behalf of the region.
So your example, in this as in many things to date, will be spoken of far afield. What we do here has an impact beyond what we see, just as our role has reverberations even into Heaven itself, or so the Boss, the Good Shepherd, clearly said!
In grace and peace, Pastor Jeff