Dear Covenant Members and Friends,
Thank You! That’s all I can write this month. Thank you so much for your love, your support and your trust in me as your pastor. I am humbled and honored that you have called me to be your next Senior Pastor beginning in September 2018.
The journey that God has led us on together has been truly remarkable. And I believe that the journey ahead will be an adventure that we will never forget.
Two years ago I remember meeting with the wonderful Associate Pastoral Nominating Committee – whom I want to thank by name:
Robin Strong, Ray Rowley, Martha Lehmann, Steven Herriott, Nita Maddox, Lora Keiser, Joe Jones, Tom Cunningham, Debbie Hester, Mary Gray, and Bill McDowell
It was during a sparkling evening over dinner at Nita Maddox’s home that I began to ask myself: “God, what do you have up your sleeve?”
One year ago I remember meeting with the wonderful Pastoral Transition Team – whom I would like to thank by name:
Newell Witherspoon, Sheila Cloud & Tom Coon
It was during a powerful meeting in our Library with these three elders that I began to ask again: “God, what do you have up your sleeve?”
Throughout this time, I would never have been able to fulfill my calling without the partnership and selfless service of our staff – whom I would like to thank by name:
Susan Pendergrass, Alice Searcy, Lana Stapler, Katherine Bennett, Eddie Glasser, Steven Herriott, Cyndy Sarkisian, Betty Augsburger, Matt Carey, Russ Ivey and Pam Holmes
It is a privilege to work with you each day. I deeply feel that your sacrifices and support for me are a gift beyond measure.
Nowhere is it more apparent that I am just one member of a God-picked team than when I work alongside the best officers I have ever seen. To our Deacons, Session, and Trustees – I do not have enough words to thank each of you for the incredible dedication that you bring to your responsibilities. Being counted among your number as a Teaching Elder is an honor that I treasure.
In particular I want to thank the session members who prayed and discerned alongside the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee (beginning in 2014), the Pastoral Transition Team, and the church-wide discernment groups with such integrity:
Jeff Baker, Betty Collins, Herb Guendel, Andy Huttula, Elaine Woodling, Nancy Cloud, Ted Lehmann, Dennis Glasser, Amy Langford, Rebecca Boone, Susan Pendergrass, Jack Royster, Don Searcy, Betsy Estopinal, Mary Griffin, Kerry Rowley, Jeff Strouse, Sheila Cloud, Andy Glover, Dottie Hicks, Frieda Howell, Nita Herrington, David Stumbaugh, Sandi Williams, Rob Barnes, Art Woodling, Tom Pendergrass, Rita Icenogle, Steve Mowry and Steven Herriott
Alongside the discernment and wisdom of our elected officers and elders have been the gracious contributions of members of the Special Ops team and many Covenant Senior Leaders, who gave wise counsel and direction early in this process beginning in 2013 and provided ongoing input, feedback and guidance to the work of the Session and Associate Pastor Nominating Committee. To all who served selflessly in these “behind the scenes” groups:
I believe that the efforts and prayers of all these people – and so many more – have been very near to the heart of God in part because of the tireless intercession of the prayer team here at Covenant. I feel the prayers of this team hem me in behind and before as I walk forward into this new role and I know that I felt their prayers even when I was in Seminary preparing for a job I did not then know I would receive. To the prayer team:
Nita Maddox, Sheila Cloud, Martha Lehmann, Mary Edna Sharpe, Vicki Cape, Sylvia Townsley, Lana Stapler, Marilyn Cardno
Perhaps more than anyone I need to thank my mentor, friend, and boss, Hal Oakley and his peerless wife Jean Oakley, who is my colleague in Stephen Ministry. Their prayers and support and coaching will remain with me for my whole life long.
In addition I have to thank my wonderful wife Alison, who first identified Covenant on the PC(USA)’s job listing website and who heard the voice of the Holy Spirit calling us to Huntsville. Thank you Alison for your love and support!
And over these last months I have experienced an overwhelming surge of support, prayer and encouragement from the whole congregation. The list of names in this short letter is sadly incomplete without you. So many of you have served with me on wonderful committees, sent me touching cards and emails and shared your lives with me in ways beyond my deserving. While your name is not listed here, I hope to use the coming years to show my thanks to you.
Thank you to each of you. I can honestly say that I am the happiest I have ever been in my life because you have blessed me with your generous listening and faithful discipleship.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
I feel like John the Baptist in that I am not worthy to tie the sandals of our Lord who has called us to follow him together.
But I also feel the wind blowing around us as we are about to lift up our sails for the breath of God – the mighty wind of the Holy Spirit – to blow us forward into his mission:
To make disciples of Jesus Christ who love God, love one another and who serve in the world.
Wherever we go…
Your thankful brother in Christ,