Sisters and brothers in Christ,
Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ!
At the end of worship yesterday, I was shocked, delighted, and grateful. According to the order of worship, we were supposed to be handing out Bibles to the Third/Fourth Graders who haven't received these gifts from the congregation. Just as I was leaving the Altar Table to do this, I was interrupted by Council President Jeff Owens who was standing in the congregation with a microphone.
Jeff proceeded to call my family to join me up front. On behalf of the congregation, he presented me a beautiful glass cross in recognition of serving Christ's church as a pastor for twenty years. He mentioned that although the anniversary was during the summer, the Council wanted to take the time to recognize my two decades of service as a pastor. You don't often find this preacher speechless but I didn't know what to say - except, "thank you."
On the top of the glass cross is the St. James logo. Early on in my ministry at St. James, a talented group of people developed this symbol based on the input and feedback from a congregational survey. The new logo was part of a larger effort of leaders, staff, and others to move in a common direction, inspired by a common vision. Instead of logos that reflected our building, this St. James cross reminds us of people and core commitments to worship and service. If you look at each of the quarters of the cross, you will see people. Two stretch out arms upwards to the heavens in praise. Two stretch out arms downwards to the earth to help others. The logo has become a common and unifying symbol for all ministries at St. James. As Council worked three years ago on a new vision statement - the St. James cross was in the background. By the Grace of God, we will build and deepen loving relationships with God, with each other, and with our neighbor. That vision connects with the St. James cross. I am proud to serve a congregation that holds up people before programs and vision before "doing things the way we've always done them." I am also grateful for the many people that continue to work together to drive and lead St. James ministry.
I am deeply appreciative of the opportunity to serve as pastor at St. James. Thank you for your support, affirmation, guidance, conversations (even the difficult ones are fruitful), respect, and care. In this ninth year of service to St. James, this cross comes as a treasured gift.