from . . . Dick Sartwell, interim pastor
What a year it’s been! My time of service as your interim pastor comes to a conclusion this week, and I look back with praise to God for the difference this year has made for me and for our church. A year ago many of us were in a state of shock over what had happened to our beloved Newberg Friends Church. In June of last year we were suddenly aware that we had only a couple weeks to reorganize with new clerks, new church officers, and additional members to fill the ranks of standing committees. Additionally, we faced the need to create a budget in a very uncertain future.
A year later we find ourselves with all those officer and committee positions filled by willing volunteers who stepped forward from the very first days. Our financial situation has been clarified and is healthy, thanks to your generous giving. And we are within days of installing our new pastor, Keith Reeser, who comes to us with his family from Chandler, Oklahoma. Praise the Lord!
Here are some specific things I notice as indicators of positive change in our congregation:
- Together we began the work of clarifying our understanding of God’s vision for our congregation. We started to look outward again! That provided valuable background for the work of our elders and pastoral search committee.
- We began learning how to “do church” differently with a much smaller professional staff but with revitalized committees doing creative work at shaping our future.
- We have found new joy and praise in our worship services—and new urgency to be a praying people.
- We’ve done good work together and individually in moving through some of the hard emotions—grief, anger, sadness—generated by our experience of the last few years.
These observable changes make me aware of what this year has meant to me personally. To be honest, I accepted the opportunity to serve as interim pastor with great reluctance. Linda and I have been a part of the congregation through these years, and I feared it would be hard for me to serve usefully and objectively in a leadership role. I have had my own “baggage” to carry and my own healing to work through. But surprisingly these several months have been a very great blessing to me. Seeing up close how my brothers and sisters in the Lord are seeking to move forward following Jesus with sincerity and humility has helped me find my own way forward on the same path. Thank you, my friends, for helping me find this blessing. We loved you all before, but that love has grown deeper this year. Linda and I now look forward to stepping back into our “normal” roles of retirement and just being part of this vital fellowship with you, eager to discover with you God’s next steps for all of us together.