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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Saying Goodbye to a Cherished Church Fellowship

TWO THOUSAND, TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHTY EIGHT DAYS and this morning. That’s the period that has spanned the journey I’ve been on with my local church; the one I’m leaving today.

As I reflect and consider where I was and where the church was back on 14 December 2003, much has indeed changed. The vision for both entities certainly has materialised somewhat and God has used and grown both, for much good, according to his purposes.

The highlights for me, personally, have been my involvement in coordinating 40 Days of Purpose special events, team leading the children’s and youth ministries, being a deacon and a trustee, and roles coordinating other special events particularly in the period 2004-2006. Ministering to high school students for two years in a part-time role was great and it’s so interesting to see them as nearly adults now.

Since the end of 2007 my formal ministry roles gave way to a new season of adjusting to new married life, fulltime secular work and a burgeoning love of writing and blogging. I’ve not looked back!

But, now, as I allow myself a moment to ponder I see some marvellous people who loved me to the person I am today, making indelible contributions along the way. Not naming them, they’ll know who they are.

There’s a comrade of the opposite gender who walked with me in my singleness—together we even raised some eyebrows in the church, but what we had was always Jesus-platonic, a wonderful testimony to God’s grace and sufficiency to provide for ‘a time such as this.’

There’s also a terrific servant-hearted worship team leader who, with her powers of courage, pure kindness and generosity, and dedication to Jesus, contributed to anointed worship every single week it seemed from January 2005 onwards—that “feel” remains today even though she has relieved herself of those reins.

There’s the pastor. He and I have had our differences but whilst I worked for him we had an entirely appropriate and very functional working relationship, and he taught me much. Any hurts I suffered God used as a process in my own discipleship—some of these were based in a necessary tough love akin to Hebrews 12. I learned that being involved in ministry involves hurt—but that the healing grace of God is always nearby. My reflections of this pastor’s skill and well-rounded love are solid and true.

I was involved with an elderly pastoral couple—highly regarded former pastors and missionaries—who ran a Bible study group. This too was a fiery furnace for me that catapulted me into the call of God—to study at seminary. They saw in me what I didn’t see at the time, but is now an indelible image that has become intrinsically part of me.

This church fellowship—via the Holy Spirit—has been central to the raising and sorting of some of my many character issues during the earlier few years, and now God has brought me and my wife to move to another area. It’s a fresh start, new home, church and neighbourhood.

I’m hoping the brand of Jesus-love we’ll find there won’t be too different, though I’m confident we’ll adjust in any event.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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