Pastor’s Report for Pinehurst UMC (2003)

dorean elabote, dorean dote. Given Gifts – Give Gifts. (Matthew 10:8b).

I offer this phrase, the motto of the Theological School of Drew University, as my mission statement. As a person called by God and ordained an elder in The United Methodist Church, I am privileged to employ my gifts among the Methodists – both saints and sinners – of Pinehurst, North Carolina.

As a newcomer to this community of faith, I can only limited observations about our life together. I celebrate the spirit of God that is evident in the body of Christ here in Pinehurst and pray that we will continue to lean into God’s future for this church. I find myself learning a new style of working among the God’s people. Scripturally I find myself challenged by Paul to live into his call for the pastor “to equip the saints for the work of ministry” (see Ephesians 4:11). I am committed to setting each of us free for ministry in this place. To this end I am trying to spend more time with God and others in prayer and discernment about what God is already doing in the Sandhills and how we can respond to that call. As I seek to know Jesus more and the details of the church’s life less I sometimes like I am just muddling through. In those moments I find strength in the apostle Paul’s willingness “to become all things to all people so that by all means some might be saved” (1 Corinthians 9:22).

I recently reviewed Albert Outler’s in (1996). Albert Outler noted that our task in ministry is always three-fold (see pp. 65-66): (1) announcing the coming of Christ (see Mark 16:15), (2) witnessing by our actions and words to God’s love (see Acts 1:8), and (3) living as servants together (see John 13). The problem for Outler’s day and our own is that often settle for living together in community and struggle with our announcing and witnessing ministries with the least, the last, and the lost of Jesus’ sisters and brothers. Rich Mullins reminds me that “faith without works is a song you can’t sing … it’s about as useless as a screen door on a submarine.” As we seek to enhance our fellowship together, let us never lose our resolve to reach out to the “Lost in America” beginning with the 20,000 persons who reside within 5 miles of this place (see Tom Clegg, Lost in America, 2001).

Our lay leadership development team comes to you offering a simpler slate of officers – a chance
for God to breathe fresh air into our predictability. In the coming year we will invite more folks to live into a model of ministry where calling, equipping, and sending sets the tempo for our life together. This will be a struggle as we move beyond our comfort zone to a passion driven and gift-based model for discerning and equipping each of us for the work of ministry. Expanding our current ministries has already brought other issues to light. Fifteen months after moving into this space we find ourselves expanding beyond the walls of existing classroom space and needing to invent and reinvent church school for young and old alike.

I cannot finish without a word of gratitude to Glenda Clendenin, Lucy Achuff, and Merry Glass who have helped me learn how to shuffle the paperwork and ride the unpredictable carousel of this church. They possess grace in uncertain moments, wisdom in the face of confusion, and confidence to tame my not so humble nature. To their names, I add the great blessing I receive from working with my colleagues Lovell and Barbara Aills, Jean Arthur, Bob and Inez Bundy, Bruce and Jean Carlson, Betsy Kugel, and Ronda and Eric Torres. Their wisdom goes with me to the broader Methodist connection where I serve as the chairperson of our conference’s Commission on Congregational Development and share in our conference’s visioning by sitting at the Conference Connectional Table. I especially give thanks for Cindy, Ann and William – my God-given family – they are God’s breath of fresh air every day. Finally, I am blessed to live and work among the saints and sinners of Pinehurst United Methodist Church.