country roadWell, I've been at First Presbyterian for almost a year!  It will be a year at the end of July!!  When I reflect on the year with gratitude, I think about how grace-filled this community has been, how we've learned and grown from each other, and how we have developed a deep appreciation for one another.  Has it been easy and conflict free?  No, but anything that is worth something has challenges.

Researchers suggest that how we approach one another, concern, conflict, etc., automatically sets the tone for how the response or relationship will continue.  I think that is true.  If we assume positive intent, empathize, become less defensive, and remind ourselves that we are on the same team, that is the type of church that we hear about in the New Testament.  I'm grateful that we have meaningful conversations and opportunities to grow and share in Christ's mission even though there will always be conflict.

When I was called to be the pastor here, that meant that I had to stop communicating (even online) with any previous "sheep" from the prior congregation.  All of those relationships are paused for roughly two years.  It is part of how we Presbyterians do it so that the new pastor can build and maintain relationships with the new congregation.  If I were still chatting with my previous sheep (even as a friend), their view of me doesn't change, but it impacts how you and I relate.  Lots of tears.  But this means that when I accepted the call, I was all in with this community.  We are now partners, for which I am grateful.  You mean a lot to me and my family.

I pray that we continue to move forward so that we can see how God will move next, and that we approach one another and everyone we meet with hearts full of gratitude.