This year has been the first full
year of my Pastorate as Senior Pastor of this great historic church.
The first year of service to a church or institution is always
memorable because it sets the foundation of the vision and future
mission that will guide the governance and ethos of the organization.
Considering that for the past two years, we as a national church
(ELCA) and local church have gone through a great deal, I believe
that the bedrock of our progression and reflection has been our
commitment to teamwork. Before I begin this report, I would be remiss
not to mention that the reason that this church has remain stable
notwithstanding the Holy Spirit is through the efforts of this
congregation in your time, gifts, and resources.
It is hard to work alone.
Sometimes the line between rugged independence and sheer exhaustion
can grow very thin. In an opera, even the strongest leather-lunged
diva sings her aria and then steps back for a breath while someone
else take center stage for a while. God never intended any of us to
be alone in the spotlight or our entire life. Under the leadership of
our President Richard Curtis and other council members they have
embodied a collaborative model of leadership that God intended for
faithful men and women to undertake a mission together.
Abraham and Sarah worked as a
team to establish a new nation and a new covenant people.
Moses and Aaron worked as a team
to drive Pharaoh to distraction and get the Hebrews out of Egypt.
Moses and Joshua worked as a team
to move a stubborn and stiff-necked people toward the Promised Land.
Josiah and Hilkiah worked as a
team to restore Gods law to a forgetful nation.
Ruth and Naomi worked as a team
to find security and future in the midst of a great loss.
Esther and Mordecai worked as a
team to see that the Jews were kept safe and their enemy Haman was destroyed.
John the Baptist and Jesus worked
as a team to bring the Holy Spirit upon the Messiahs ministry
The disciples worked as a team as
they went out two-by-two to fulfill the mission of the seventy.
I feel that this year in building
a deliberate inclusive community of faith that just as the book of
Exodus focused on an important transition in the lives of the
people-the beginnings of tabernacle worship. That although we in the
past sixteen years since the retirement of Pastor Charles Macmurphy
had many transitions in leadership that the way for us to be
effective in our growth and vitality is through teamwork and worship.
I have been very deliberate along with the Minister of Music, Sandra
Nearhoof and the worship committee in exploring new forms of worship
that will attract Lutherans, seekers and our community. In looking at
Exodus we focus on the freedom of the Israelites escaping Egypt but
the important basis of the book is how as a community of faith do we
come together and have expressions of worship that will form the
liturgy of the parishioners presently in our congregation and the
generations to come. I am grateful through the commitment of the
Altar Guild and Mrs. Eileen Barrs, a fellow Executive Council Member
acting as a liaison that we have made some strides in this reality.
The first action point that has been achieved is that we have
determined as a worship team that we need to be consistent in our
worship times even in the summer months. Also, that if we will
continue with two services that one should be more traditional and
the other at this point blended that will reflect the expressions of
present parishioners and the emerging communities. From the first
week of June to the end of the liturgical year, the worship format
will follow Now the
Feast and Celebration
by Marty Haugen. We will continue with a Marty Haugen piece
commencing at the end of November (beginning of the liturgical year)
to the end of May (Memorial Day weekend) we will have the liturgy Tree
of Life. With this,
we are still planning to continue our conversations in bringing more
blended/contemporary expressions through the direction of the
Minister of Music and worship team.
This ideal of teamwork has
continued with our work with Military outreach in our church being
the only Lead Congregation for CareForTheTroops.org.
We have formed a partnership with the other church that is apart of CareForTheTroops.org
in our worship and military Outreach, All Saints Presbyterian Church
in Midland, Georgia. Through the efforts of our council members in
October of this year we approved a new logo that will reflect our
continued commitment to support our nations troops and military
outreach. I am pleased overall in how for this year we have shown
that our worship is not based on what we engage in on Sunday but is
displayed through our love and teamwork toward the community and
humanity. To me that is what being Lutheran is about is in
understanding that we are saved only by Gods grace and that we
expressed our gratitude spontaneously through our service which we
have done amid these expressions being compromised by a world of hate
and rejection of the least of these.
I feel like Joshua when he
finally inherited the mantle of leadership following in the great
footsteps of Reverend Charles B. Macmurphy, Bishop Emeritus Gerald
Troutman, and Reverend Peter Samuelson, he was expected to be the
sole spiritual spokesman to the Israelites. This task for Moses has
been overwhelming that Yahwehs kabod established itself in
residence in the tabernacle. I believe that over the years, that we
have learned that our faith shouldnt be on man/woman or the
elected Pastor of this congregation but should remain on Gods
presence that has kept this church for over fifty-five years. When we
realize that it has been the spirit of God that has hovered over our
triumphs and tumultuous storms the sky is the limit for what God has
in store for all of us. The continual changes in the way that God
presents itself is manifested in the season of Advent in which we
celebrated where God shows up in a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes.
Our challenge for this coming year which has been the bedrock of our
progression is for us to move forward as a collaborative team.
From Moses to the tabernacle
From the team-rituals of the
temple to the incarnation of Jesus.
From Jesus leadership to
the ragtag team of the disciples.
From the disciples
continued team efforts to the Pentecost body of Christ, the church.
From the church as a Christbody
to the hierarchy of the magisterium.
From an institutionalized
magisterium to a team-spirit Reformation.
From a Reformed church to a
From less formalized clergy to an
empowered laity and every-member ministry.
We must St. Matthew as Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr. urges that we are the headlights and not the
taillights of change and social progression that we are the
leaders and transformers of our church and community. That we are not
satisfied in being lukewarm or a care-taking church but a church that
will take risks not because they are popular or safe but because we
have the convictions of Christ that we are more than conquerors in
Christ that loves us.
If we look and examine the
various incarnations of our Church history and the Christian church,
there is an ebb and flow of the Spirits presence in these
various forms. I hope that the power of a Spirit-led leader is
transferred to the creativity of a Spirit-led team. The earliest
priesthood of Jesus own disciples, the Spirit-infused team of
the Reformers, and the Spirit-empowered lay movements-all represent
teams of faithful, creative, Spirit-fired incarnations of Gods kabod.
The Spirit of God is on the move.
If we dont quench this Spirit but embrace this wired world
which will bring down every bureaucracy, every hierarchy that impedes
our growth. I declare that the foundational model of team-work has
been set during my first full year as Pastor of this great church
that we are team orientated and committed to collaboration and
spirituality. I look forward in developing continued relationships
through home visitations in 2012 that will foster open and free ideas
for social change. This dialogue will guide the vision and
forthcoming mission of this church.
Reverend William Edward Flippin, Jr.