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Personal From Ministerial and Member Services: January 20, 2022

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Personal From Ministerial and Member Services

January 20, 2022

Last Sabbath, I enjoyed visiting the Ft. Wayne, Indiana, congregation pastored by Joshua Creech. It had been several years since I had been to Ft. Wayne, as I visited there fairly often when my beloved mother was alive and attending there. Ft. Wayne was my home church just before leaving for Ambassador College in 1974. It was very good to see several who attended back in those days, but there were lots of new faces as well.

It is only a little over a three-hour drive to Ft. Wayne, so I went over in the morning for the 11 a.m. service. A fine sermonette, given by Karl Hermann, blended nicely into the sermon I gave on the importance of loving God, loving His truth, and loving His way of life. Having this type of love is key to remaining faithful and will see us through any trial that comes along in our lives.

After fellowshipping with brethren for about 90 minutes at the meeting hall, about a dozen of us decided to extend our fellowship at a local restaurant for another 90 minutes. It was very enjoyable and edifying to be able to spend that much time together as brothers and sisters in Christ. We are most blessed to have such meaningful relationships based on God’s love, His truth, and His way of life!

Life is difficult and very hectic, so it is especially important to work on developing stronger, more meaningful relationships between brethren. And let us always remember that ministers are brethren too. We ministers appreciate the bonds that are built with you members and we really are all in this together. Perhaps some have felt, both ministers and members, that it is not a good idea to foster close relationships and friendships among ministers and members. I have never felt that way and I feel quite close to many members in every area I have had the opportunity to serve. Of course, we should not allow close friendships to cloud our judgment or keep us from always putting God first and doing the right thing, but we should not assume that close friendships are not vital between ministers and members.

As I said, life is hectic, and I am not the best at continuing these friendships once I have moved away. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have warm feelings, and not just feelings, but a real love for those brethren who really do mean so much to me. And when I get back to visit, we pick up right where we left off and it is a beautiful thing to experience.

I recently had a mild bout with COVID-19 and had to miss a planned trip to the Dallas and Tulsa areas for two memorial services of close friends in the faith. That was very difficult for me, in some ways, because I was so looking forward to the time that would be spent with the families of those deceased loved ones we had in common. I hope to make up for those missed opportunities by visiting these wonderful families in the not too distant future.

This week was dominated by meetings to discuss our 2022-2023 Strategic and Operation Plan that will be presented to the General Conference of Elders this coming May for their approval. We all want to make good, sound, solid decisions that will further the work of God and please Him. We also had a meeting today to discuss results of a recent employee survey, to help us better serve the needs of the employees of the United Church of God. Another meeting this week was in preparation for next week’s online annual meetings with many Festival Coordinators as we plan for observing the Feast of Tabernacles in 2022.

Brethren, thank you for your dedicated prayers for us here at the home office and for our ministry and brethren throughout the world, as we all strive to do our part in the Body of Christ as led by God our Father and the Holy Spirit.

Wishing you all a very physically and spiritually rejuvenating Sabbath day!