Buckle In!

fall in KY 2Who’s ready for some fun?  Buckle in because it’s November which means the season of gratitude, grief (for some), and gifts is quickly approaching.  The orange, yellow, and brown colored leaves are swaying from the treetops and floating to the ground until limbs are bare.  The days grow shorter, but the list of demands grows longer.  As we travel these days together through our “firsts” of this season, may we remember that God is calling us to the path and will travel with us.  The presence through the Spirit of the living God will remain steadfast.  As we travel together during this holy season, let us remember grace, humility, hospitality, openness, and compassion.  Wondering about the itinerary?  You’ll find it here on the website and in the newsletter.  You can expect more details and information coming out soon!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Jen

 

Welcome to FPC!

 

Our Money Story

Jen Evans 1

Our lives tell stories about who we are, our history, and priorities.  Our stories are deep, varied, and holy.  I recently got lost in the stories of the history of this congregation as I flipped through photo books from the 70s, visitor logs from the 60s, church communications from the 50s, and finance statements from the 40s.  As Madeline (interim office admin) and I browsed the artifacts, we saw current and extended family of members attending today, a faithful congregation, and a missional church.  I read the wisdom from previous leaders and can understand how this congregation has survived and remained faithful over the years.  The collection of stories of this congregation and community is bound together expressing deep rooted faith, vision for the future, outwardly focused ministry, and trust.

Our individual stories are still being woven into a larger narrative for our congregation, one that includes the strong foundation formed through challenging times and the shared triumphs.  We grow by articulating and learning from our stories.  What stories does your life tell?

For example, let’s think about a kind of story that we’d rather not discuss - our money story.  I can feel the tension of you reading this as I’m still writing it!  We all have a money story, whether we recognize it or not.  Perhaps we are living from a story of fear or shame.  Or a story that the church prioritizes differently.  Or a story that our actions won’t have an impact.  Or a story that we don’t have enough.  We so quickly want to avoid the whole conversation.  But it’s time we reframe this.

Money and possessions are one of the most common topics in scripture, and Jesus talked about money more than faith and prayer.  Our money story, therefore, is a spiritual story.  Thinking about God’s money story should be liberating, inviting, and transformative.

Over the next month or so we are going to explore our own stories about gratitude, our God-given gifts and talents, and faith practices.  Individually and collectively, we will begin to reimagine how God might be speaking a new narrative into the limited ones we have told ourselves.

The Spirit is moving!  Hang on!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Jen

A Relentless God

I knew I was in trouble when God was relentless.  What am I talking about you ask?  Well, let me tell you a story.  I have been praying over scriptures and asking God to speak to me as many pastors do when it comes to worship.  I prayed and prayed upon arrival to Madisonville.  I met with the worship team and laid out what I thought God was directing me to for the first several Sundays.  The passages all fell together into a larger context around faith.  Week one was around how people of faith act by understanding the promises of God.  Week two was about how faith helps us discern the will of God by using our Father’s teachings to give us better eyes of faith.

As the Spirit selected passages through my studies weeks ago, I didn’t think much about the text selection.  As time got closer and closer, as I studied more, prayed more, and wrestled with God’s Word, I got more and more anxious.  It became clear what God wanted us all to hear and therefore I wanted to run for the hills.  I begged, ran from God, and finally went to the lectionary (a collection of passages that are on a three-year rotation that flow with the church calendar) in search of new passages that might not be as terrifying.  Well, would you believe that the lectionary had the same passages?!

I buckled in, held on, prayed like crazy, and tried to be faithful.  It was unnerving, challenging, and stretched my faith but I think part of the reason that it is so difficult is because it is a hard passage and message for me to hear too.  The Good News?  Christ’s redemptive love and grace go with us as we try to be more faithful - even when we mess up.

Thanks be to God.

Pastor Jen

Preparation for the Journey

Evans FamilyIt is hard to believe that my family and I have been here for five weeks now!  As I reflect on the last six months, I'm keenly aware of the ways in which God was preparing us all for the journey ahead.  I remember sitting on zoom calls with the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) back in early 2022 and thinking about the loveliness of the committee and their impressive stamina for finding the right fit for FPC.  After visiting Madisonville and engaging in challenging growth conversations, I knew that God was pointing me to FPC.  Rich and I prayed; our family prayed.  The call was made clear to me, affirmed by Rich, and confirmed by the Holy Spirit through the PNC.

We are so grateful to this faithful community for letting us put our things in the manse before the congregational vote which is not the typical process.  Due to committee date changes at the Presbytery level, the meeting of the congregation happened a bit later than we anticipated.  As some of you know, we had to sell our Little Rock house, get a quote and schedule movers, and move out while I was out of town fulfilling an obligation to Montreat Youth Conferences in Montreat, North Carolina.  The movers quote depended on the dates of relocation.  Pushing forward by even a few weeks was a difference of tens of thousands of dollars!!  Crazy!  For boxes to arrive early meant we were going out on faith and trusting God's call!  We knew that if necessary, we would pay the extra amount and move all the boxes out.  My constant prayer was and is for God to lead and for me to have the faith to follow.

I am ready for this journey.  I have served over 20 years in churches with a wide range of political and theological views.  I enjoy getting more people involved.  I value tradition.  I also love trying new things as we grow in faith and as a community.  I won't be perfect.  I may frustrate you and encourage hard conversations.  The same is true for me.  Someone is going to gossip or fail to hear one another and it may have challenging moments.  But, we are family now.  I love you and I hope you will grow to love me (if you haven't already ☺).  Let's do this!  God is ready.  I am ready.  My family is ready.  Are you?

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."  Hebrews 11:1

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Jen