sweet little church passed a milestone today: we installed our first called pastor. Bill and I helped to start our church about three years ago--I remember trying to keep the dogs settled while about twenty people crowded into our family room to explore the idea of a new congregation, discerning if this was where God was leading us.
In a little while we were meeting at a local hotel, forty people some weeks, then fifty, then eighty...and we decided we needed a professional instead of sharing the duties of worship and preaching among the braver members. We were able to call an interim pastor, someone specifically called to shepherd a congregation through a time of searching and waiting. The Lord was looking out for us when he sent Pastor Larry and Carolyn, his amazing wife, to us. Little did they know that this "interim" position would last well over a year!
We kept growing, now a hundred, a hundred and ten, and we moved to a rented storefront. Pastor Larry kept preaching while we searched. After several false starts, we found a wonderful (young) man and his wife who felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to come to Peachtree City, Georgia. Pastor John preached his first sermon as our pastor on Labor Day weekend, but today he was formally installed as our pastor. We held a celebratory worship service to mark the very special occasion.
As Lutherans, our installation service includes welcoming other Lutheran pastors from the area, as well as our denomination's representatives (we are affiliated with the NALC and LCMC). The congregation formally presents the new pastor with his stole and the clergy and whole congregation participate in a laying on of hands to bless him. It was joy-filled.
We are so blessed to have Pastor John and his wife Cara as part of our congregation. Since September we've continued to grow, now around the one hundred sixty mark. While numbers don't mean everything, the fire marshal doesn't agree--we are hitting our occupancy limit and will be forced to make some changes while we look for more space. Definitely an exciting problem!
The picture up there is the only one I took during the installation. That's Pastor John over on the left, and Pastor Larry on the far right (seated). My honey is standing right beside Pastor Larry; as the president of the congregation this year he got to actually present the stole to Pastor John. That was cool. The others are pastors and the congregation's vice president who also participated in the installation service.
Pastor Larry preached today, urging Pastor John and all of us to be diligent in proclaiming Christ to the world. We have already been so blessed by both of these men and their fine teaching, Christ-focused, filled with grace while not shying away from the "hard parts" of the Bible. We are so excited to see where God is leading our group, which is getting less "little" by the week.
Pastor John writes two blogs, if you are interested in an online Bible study: a shorter one and a longer one. If you live south of Atlanta and are interested in a liturgical church with Christ-centered teachings, please know that you are always welcome. And if that sounds good to you but you are a little too far away, you might look here or here to try a congregation closer to your home. My prayer is that you would let Jesus find you, and if this can help you then please use it.
Thanks be to God!