Wednesday of this week started as any other: making breakfast and packing lunches for the boys, etc. As I left the house to bring Linus to school, I noticed a missed call and a message on the phone. I checked it. It was from our District Superintendent, Milton Guttierrez. I returned his call and learned that I would become the new Senior Pastor at Oak Lawn United Methodist in Dallas. Needless to say, I was shocked at the news. This was most unusual. Normally appointments are pretty much set by the first of May. In an ordinary year, I would have received this call in March or early April, and it would have been a consultative call in nature. I'd discuss with Christy and the boys, pray about it, and make a decision, knowing that PUMC and our family had both wished for us to return as pastor for another year. So many wonderful things are happening in Prosper right now- I just last Sunday shared some of our vision and excitement.
Yet Christy and I value and affirm our United Methodist heritage of itineracy. At my ordination I agreed to serve as I was appointed at the pleasure of the Bishop. Christy and I have strong ties to Oak Lawn, having served there as intern and Associate Pastor several years ago, and the Bishop and Cabinet of our Conference know that. The church has experienced very difficult circumstances in recent years, and things reached a critical boiling point early this week. Late Tuesday they agreed that because of our existing relationships there we could bring both needed healing and leadership to Oak Lawn, and last night we were introduced to their Staff/Pastor/Parish Relations team. Now begins the process of finding a place to live, deciding on the best school for the boys, determining a moving schedule, consulting with the incoming pastor here (we won't know anything for a week or so), and everything else that must happen between now and July 1. I invite you to pray for Prosper UMC, Oak Lawn UMC, the staffs and SPPRC teams of both churches, PUMC's new parsonage family, as well as ours.
As I look back on my tenure at Prosper UMC, I am grateful for the opportunity to have served alongside some incredible leaders who love Christ and his church. We have shared many memorable experiences together, some very difficult, most affirming and even life-changing. I have witnessed the growth of so many adults at PUMC, through prayer, study, and service. I have seen in my own children how a community who loves kids can share the stories of Jesus and have them remembered with joy and enthusiasm. I am grateful for all those who supported the church with their prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness- now I pray everyone will unite in those actions for the immediate future of these two historic, proud communities of faith.
One of my favorite scriptures is 1 Corinthians 3:6: "I planted you, Apollos watered you, but God gave the growth." It was written by Paul, a church planter, who moved on to a different place and whose role was taken up by Apollos. There were factions within the church: "I belong to Paul." "I belong to Peter." "I belong to Apollos." Paul's response: "Are you kidding? We all belong to Christ! God gives the growth!" So it is at Prosper UMC, Oak Lawn UMC, and every other congregation in the world. Our prayerful allegiance is with the Lord of the Church- its Cornerstone if you were in worship last Sunday- not with any individual or group. I am grateful for whatever watering I have done as your pastor. I am excited to share some water at a different congregation, as I am excited for whomever the Bishop and Cabinet see fit to appoint here.
On behalf of my family, thank you for the privilege of being your parsonage family these past 4+ years.