New Beginnings

Greetings Spring Valley UMC Family! 

Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Christy, James, Miles, Linus, and I are excited to begin our ministry among you after a wonderful seven years at Grace UMC in Sherman. I am returning from three months of renewal leave. You may have heard of the interim pastor appointed to Grace during my absence: Rev Don Renshaw.

The first month of the leave was spent traveling all across the USA on a baseball tour of Major League Ballparks. You can read all about those exploits here: The leave allowed me time and space to breathe, contemplate, and rest. It was long overdue and it has been a great benefit to my soul. Now I am ready to get to work in Dallas! 

My journey in ministry began 30 years ago this summer. I was a recent college graduate, sitting around waiting for a job offer when my mother encouraged me to get off the couch and volunteer with my home church youth group. Five years after that, I was ready to walk into a round of interviews to be ordained in the UMC. I was terrified; I knew I was called to this work and I was prepared, but I had been deferred the year before. Asking me a couple of warm-up questions before the interview, Rev Sherry wasn’t impressed with my by-the-book answers. When I struggled to articulate, she said, and this has stuck with me over the decades, “Think of ministry as a gift.” Her words of grace unlocked everything, and I soared through the interviews. Bishop Hearne laid hands on me that summer, ordaining me a Deacon, then Bishop Norris in 2001, ordaining me an Elder. Ministry, ordination, indeed has been a gift.  

I am so grateful for the ministry of Rev Paul Gould, the easy transition he facilitated, and the leadership of Cynthia Lee and the Staff/Parish Relations team. I am reminded of a couple of passages that are always relevant during times of transition: In 1 Corinthians 3 Paul speaks to conflict within the congregation over a change of leadership: “After all, what is Apollos? What is Paul?… I planted, Apollos watered, but God made it grow. Because of this, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but the only one who is anything is God who makes it grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together, but each one will receive their own reward for their own labor.” 

Christy, the boys, my ever-expanding Pez collection (come by the office for the dime tour; you won’t be disappointed!), the opportunity to baptize and marry, remember and celebrate lives, share stories.. that has been my reward.  

Many years ago I was serving in my first appointment as a solo pastor. I was having a hard time adjusting and the church was struggling as well. I went to visit a mentor, who shared advice he heard years before in his early days: “First year change nothing, second year change everything.” When I shared that observation earlier this year with Dr. Owen Ross, Director of the Center for Church Development of the North Texas Conference, he responded: “You don’t have that kind of time today.” The world is different today than it was twenty years ago. So is this congregation. So am I. But the mission is the same- and we must accept and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we grow and change together. At the end of the Gospel of John, Jesus shares this interaction with Peter: “Peter turned around and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them… When Peter saw this disciple, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about him?’ Jesus replied, ‘…What difference does that make to you? You must follow me.’” Looking ahead, following Jesus into the mission field, that is where God is calling Spring Valley United Methodist Church, and what a dynamic, diverse, filled with possibilities kind of parish we find ourselves in! I am excited and ready for this challenge and opportunity. If we commit to following Jesus, we can have faith that God will give us growth.  

If you are active on social media, I invite you to follow me:  Facebook and Instagram: Frank Drenner III (if you follow Frank Drenner, that’s my dad, so you’ll see lots of gardening and cooking posts!)