Letter to the Congregation, One Year Review


They say the first year of teaching is the hardest. I imagine the first year of any new job is the most challenging.  What I have realized, as I come  full circle to a month and a season that I have seen before, is that it has taken me a year to see what is before me.  When you enter a year in a new place, everything is new, even though things are familiar.  Christmas happens, but it’s not the same. Jesus is resurrected, but it’s not the same.  Funerals, session meetings,  process, communication, culture, behavior, expectations, work load, and above all history is not the same.  And yet it is the same.  People are the same everywhere you go.  They all are children of God. They all need to know they are loved and are capable of loving. They all need to be listened to and listen. They all doubt and they all have faith.  It’s a humbling thing, being new.  Your qualities and your growing edges are more visible.  It’s harder to hide your faults when you are new, because your mistakes aren’t easy to hide.  It takes time to become part of the fabric and decide if you fit in. It takes a sense of humor, grace, humility and courage.  It takes a community that is willing to stand beside you.  Above all, it takes a sincere faith and full reliance on God.   

 I am certain that the second year will be challenging. – There are a lot of challenges before us.  But that’s o.k.  It wouldn’t be ministry if it wasn’t challenging.  The breath of God will carry us through.

Dear Friends,

I would like to thank all of you who attended the one year celebration of our ministry together at Orchard Park!  Thanks to the Pastor Nominating Committee for their final work as a committee in hosting such a lovely event!

It seems hard to believe that one year has gone by already!  It has been a fast and eventful year.  Thank you to all of you have served in leadership roles over this past year and kept the ship going!  A special thanks to the staff for sharing their institutional knowledge, support and grace.

As we look to the new year together, I’m curious what you are most hopeful for and what concerns you the most?  What expectations did you have that were not met and what expectations were met?

The first year, I tried to focus predominately on listening, getting to know you, offering strong worship and providing strong pastoral care.  As we turn the calendar to the second year, these will continue to be my priority.

In the second year, we can expect new staff members and a new staff structure.  We can expect some very honest discussions about our financial health and potential consequences.  We can expect greater focus on ministry to families with young children. We can expect greater focus on ministry to parents who are “empty-nesters” with aging parents and we can expect greater focus on our aging population, particular those struggling with dementia.

I hope we will grow in a variety of ways:

I hope we grow in the number of pledging units at OPPC.  I would like to see more people invested in the congregation. Even if it’s giving $1 a week.  People who invest money tend to invest their hearts.

I hope we grow in our faith and prayer life. I would like to see more prayer groups and more opportunities for us to be praying with and for each other.

I hope we grow in our hands on mission and outreach to community. I would like to see us opening our doors to our neighbors and providing genuine hospitality and outreach to our community.

I hope we grow in our study of the Word. I would like to see children, youth and adults engaged in the daily reading of scripture.

I visited a OPPC member in the hospital a couple of months ago.  He said, “Orchard Park is a great place to grow.”  I could not agree more.

Come Grow With Us.Ethan baptism2

Thank you for being with me and my family this first year.

God Bless,


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