Yesterday at the Wyoming Annual Conference meeting in Scranton, I received my official appointment, to Center Moreland and Dymond Hollow UMC's. It was a semi-solemn moment, of course, but it was also pretty exciting. This is a photo from out of the back door of the parsonage.
There was a new twist to the reading of the appointments this year; the pastor moving in was called out, along with the new church, and the District Superintendent gave us both letters. The one addressed to me outlined the Bishop and Cabinet's thinking in sending me to CM/DH, and what the new church had asked for and how they feel I filled their request.
It is actually a pretty handy letter--if there is one thing I have learned, especially from the appointment I am in now, it is to get as clear a set of guidelines and expectations from the church as possible from the beginning. Setting up an evaluative tool based on this letter and conversations with the new churches is something I want to do as soon as possible, so success can be measured, and not based on peoples' feelings on a certain day.
Nothing in the letter is anything that is out of my reach, I feel. I am naturally an outgoing person, especially in a professional environment. I do have some expertise in technology for worship, though by no means do I know the ins and outs of PowerPoint and know even less about actual worship software suites. I do sing well, but I wouldn't say that I am a strong musician--rather, I have a strong interest in music, and like to plink along as best I can on my mandolin. I am pretty good with youth, though my strengths don't lie in programming and activities so much as just being able to hear and relate.
As for more visitation in homes, hospitals and nursing homes, I'll do the best I can, and we'll see if it is enough. I'll be making a weekly schedule that will be a guideline to perform this part of ministry, but I am sure that some weeks will be more successful than others. In ministry, things do have a way of coming up!
Which leaves preaching. Not a specific characteristic in my letter, it is still one of the primary tasks of being a minister. It will have been 6 years since I have had the weekly discipline of preparing sermons. I know that I have the gifts to be a good preacher, and being able to prepare over the course of two to three weeks has been a great luxury. True excellence in preaching is based on what what you can do consistently over the course of time. Again, the best I can do is to set out a schedule of time with which to use for sermon preparation, continue to attend my lectionary group (as if I would EVER give them up!), and pay attention to what Eugene Peterson calls "Working the Angles"; prayer, scripture reading, and maintaining a relationship with a spiritual director.
In the midst of all of this, I need to remember how to say no to stuff--I continue my prayer of "Please Lord, give me the strength to do Less!" I want to concentrate on the big rocks of the famous story, and the littler rocks and and sand will fill themselves in. These are the Big Rocks: Family life & life with spouse, God, Preaching & Worship, Visitation.