“About six years.” That’s how long the experts say that pastors and churches typically stick together in the United States these days (thomrainer.com; March 15, 2017).
And it’s one reason why this Sunday, September 8, it seems fitting for our church family to celebrate. We’ll give thanks that, by God’s grace and for God’s glory, we have walked this ministry journey together for 30 years.
We will remember God’s providence in bringing our lives together, we will celebrate his faithfulness across the past three decades, and we will look toward the future God has in store for us.
So, I hope to see you this Sunday – at one of four worship services and in the reception in the Gathering Area that follows the 11:00 a.m. service – as we mark this significant milestone together!
Remembering the Call to Ingleside
As we have approached this 30-year marker, I have reflected with gratitude on God’s gracious providence in bringing Beverly and me to Macon and to a church family that has so significantly shaped the trajectory of our lives.
First Contact. The phone rang in “the study” of our seminary apartment where I was attempting to finish my Ph.D. dissertation. The voice at the other end of the line was Dr. Ralph Newton, a member of the pastor search committee at Ingleside.
First Visit. On Saturday, May 20, 1989, Beverly and I flew to Macon and met the search committee and their spouses for dinner at the Best Western on Riverside Drive. Ebo West was the chairman of the committee that included John Carey, Ben Hinson, Jimmy Hinson, Stanley Howells, Harriet Newton, and Ralph Newton.
First Sermon. On Sunday, May 21, I preached at Ingleside for the first time. There were two services—8:45 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. My message was entitled “Running the Race,” and was based on Hebrews 12:1-2.
First “Town Hall” Meeting. We returned to Macon for a “town hall” meeting on Saturday night, July 29. The “Sanctuary” was full as I shared a brief testimony and then fielded questions for about 90 minutes on a variety of topics from any member who wanted to step to a microphone and ask.
“In View of a Call.” Our third visit to Macon was to preach “in view of a call” on Sunday, August 20. There was one service that day at 11:00 a.m. At the conclusion of the service, the church voted to extend the call. Believing it to be God’s will, we said “Yes!”
First Day. My first “official” day as pastor at Ingleside was Monday, September 4, 1989. It was actually a holiday—Labor Day. So, my first morning in the office and on the job was Tuesday, September 5.
First Sunday as Pastor. Sunday, September 10, 1989, was my first Sunday to preach as the pastor at Ingleside. At the conclusion of the service, Beverly and I formally “joined the church.” She was 26, I was 31. An improbable, yet providential journey had just begun.
As we pass the 30-year marker, we are deeply grateful for every expression of the Lord’s great grace in our lives. For each of you and for the privilege of serving and leading a healthy, growing church, we give thanks. And, we have every confidence that . . . the best is yet to come!
Your Pastor and Friend,