Welcome to our faith community focus as together we say ‘goodbye’ to this pastor and ‘hello’ to Rev. Melissa Claxton, who is eagerly preparing to take her place as your pastor on July 1st. In these few short weeks we will celebrate all the ways we have grown in faith, take note of all the ways we faltered, and most importantly, acknowledge all the ways we have learned to extend and receive grace.
Our sermon series, Grace: Supreme blessedness! A series on The Beatitudes, continues through May 20th. The Beatitudes are the blueprint for Christian’s to follow as disciples of Jesus Christ. The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ collection of teachings found in Matthew chapters 5-7, challenge the Church to live out grace in ways that transform us and the world around us.
The remaining weeks look like this:
April 22: Happy are the humble.
April 29: Happy are the people who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness.
May 6: Happy are the merciful; happy are the pure of heart.
May 13: Happy are the peacemakers.
May 20: Happy are those who are harassed because they are righteous.
On Mother’s Day, May 13, we will appropriately welcome three new little ones into the family of God through the sacrament of baptism as we dedicate and bless the United Methodist Women’s layette project as they are bundled for delivery to moms and new families in our community.
We will also begin creating a stole for Pastor Melissa to receive on her first Sunday as your new pastor and preacher, teacher and guide. This stole will be sewn together out of fabric strips with your prayers for her, her ministry among you, and your prayers for Warren First. It will be a patchwork of dreams and hopes, scriptures and stories.
May 20th is Pentecost Sunday. We will celebrate the blessing of the Holy Spirit coming upon the faithful disciples and the creation of the body of Christ, the Church. The day will be all the more powerful as the Music Department celebrates all the choirs and music ensembles before they begin their summer hiatus. And we will celebrate Twylia, Sarah, and the whole worship team!
The next two Sundays, May 27 and June 3, will feature guest preachers as Dennis and I attend a memorial service and then Annual Conference in Traverse City. Please keep your lay members to Annual Conference in your prayers! Warren First is sending two lay members this year, Paul Sadowski and Twylia Voshol.
My last Sunday here is June 10th. We will have a celebration together on this Graduation Sunday, our young people graduating high school, earning degrees, and Dennis and I taking our next step in our faith journey. We will be packing up the parsonage in Warren and preparing to unpack in Lexington sometime that week.
There will be much to do to prepare for a new pastor here. Much of the work involves preparing our hearts. For life-long Methodists, this is how it is. For those who haven’t experienced a change in pastoral appointments, all this is a challenge. There is grief, excitement, and anxiety. You are welcome to share your feelings during this time, with myself, Dennis, Staff Parish Committee members (Frank Vernarsky, Paul Sadowski, Ashley Staple, Richard Knakal, Sherry Descamps, John Cole) and one another. You are welcome to and encouraged to say goodbye to me as your pastor. Our relationship doesn’t end; it will be different. We will be friends in Christ. And you will begin a new relationship with Rev. Claxton as she is installed as your new pastor. You will find God has sent you an amazing gift in Pastor Melissa! I am very excited for all that she brings and your future in ministry together.
These six years of shared ministry have been a blessing. It has been a shared journey of growth and struggle, joy and tears. God has been faithful through our best days and rough ones. I wouldn’t have missed a single one! I give thanks to God for you daily.
Always, yours in the journey, Pastor Susan