by Dr. Will Cotton
This Sunday, I am completing my seventh month with you as Senior Pastor. We began by getting acquainted and meeting in 24 groups in a Listening Tour (18 meetings in July and August and 6 since then). In those meetings I heard:
- our church’s great story – one that is still being written,
- our great passions and concerns – many are already being addressed,
- and your dreams.
I will always treasure those gatherings.
We have also faced some changes and challenges.
The change of senior pastors is always a challenge, particularly after a faithful and storied tenure of 22 years. You have embraced Tina and me in a wonderful way, and David has been a great resource for information and wisdom as we have begun. Then there was the change of Director of Music Ministry. Again, the transition has been remarkable with the great support of Michael Rosensteel by a tenured director, Dr. Linda Bolding. Special thanks to our Staff Parish Relations Committee and the church staff for making these transitions go so smoothly.
We have also faced financial challenges. Several of our buildings are now approaching 20 years old…the magic age for breakdowns and necessary replacements. By summer’s end, we faced a deficit of $322,000 on our expenses. We kissed pigs, tightened our belts, and began to share the need, and you responded magnificently. While we didn’t finish in the black, we did set ourselves up to do that next year, thanks to a strong stewardship campaign and great work by our finance committee.
What is God inviting us to do in 2017?
As 2017 unfolds, I’m hearing more and more prayerful ideas from our staff and congregation about what God could do next. The vision I offer today is a near one…things we can do in this coming year to better position us for God’s next great chapter in ministry together. After that, we will gather together a much larger group of people to dream more long range…just as we have done in the past with Vision 2000 and Vision 2020. What I do know is that if God is inviting us to stir up the gift he has given us for a fresh new work, it will take all of us to get it done. I don’t say or write it enough. It is indeed a pleasure to serve as your Senior Pastor.