My "new" relationship with 1st Presbyterian, Humboldt gets in full swing this coming Sunday. For the past two Sundays I have been back in town teaching Sunday School and finishing up the Gospel of Mark. And on the other days I have been asking God for wisdom and discernment and planning a series of sermons.
The church is very small (120 members), warm, friendly and they have welcomed us with enthusiasm. I'm sure there are family connections, but I have yet to learn who is related to whom. The Book of Order defines various formal relationships pastors have with churches, but my relationship with Humboldt doesn't fall within any of the definitions and it could change to include more responsibility later. Right now I'll be in the pulpit on Sundays, moderate the Session once a month, be available to provide pastoral care and try to help them move forward as they seek a full time pastor. It's a new experience for me, one that both is exciting and humbling.
About five years ago the church moved from an historical old building in the downtown area to a brand new place on the edge of town. The new facility is really beautiful and includes space for a weekday pre-school. There are two glaring problems: the debt incurred is large for a congregation of its size and one elder said to me that the congregation seemed to have lost their focus in the move. It didn't help that right before the move the pastor who had been there about thirty years retired and the new pastor wasn't anything like the old one. I'm guessing that not enough time lapsed between pastors for grieving and acceptance of loss of one and preparation for the other. Whatever has contributed to their situation is in the past and now it's time to look ahead. I covet your prayers in this ministry opportunity God has given me.