Celebrating Summer

Celebrating Summer

(This post appeared in this week’s First Words.)

Summer must be coming to an end! The summer interns are scattering back to college and home in Bolivia…school starts back next week…the Lake Junaluska summer worshipers will return to us this Sunday.

I want to express my appreciation for being granted a little extra renewal leave. I took some vacation time, (visits to children, grandchildren, and cousins “back home,”) some study time (I read 5 “church books,” and all the letters of Paul), and some planning time (for sermons in the coming 9 months or so). It was a good time for me. Oh, and I should say our 5-year-old granddaughter Lorelei spent a week with us and had a great time at Wacky Worship Wednesday!

I came back to a busy week of concerts, meal packing, and a Leadership Team meeting. Church life goes on! By all signs, it has been a great summer at First Church. We are indebted to the fine group of summer interns who worked very hard, to staff who worked with them, and to all those valued volunteers who helped make all those programs so deeply meaningful.

If you missed Sunday, you missed my announcement that Rev. Sherrie Schork, as of September 1, will no longer be on our paid staff as Director of Equipping Ministries. She and her husband Alan will remain part of our church family, and she will volunteer some of her time, energy, and knowledge just as she has urged members to do, as she continues her Barnabas Ministries consulting and coaching in other churches. We are grateful to Sherrie for bringing us to this point in our Connecting Ministries. On Sunday August 30 we see some of the fruits of her labors as, with her team working alongside,  the Connecting event will take place. Please be part of this—learn the many opportunities for meaningful connection at First Church.

Stepping up to help take us to the next stage of connecting ministries will be Eliza
Sease. She has been a valued member of our staff for over a year (after interning several summers), and now she becomes Director of Lay Ministry and Missions.  In the coming weeks, we will have a new church secretary/receptionist on board to fill the slot Eliza leaves.

I want to share with you one more item, which you can read more about elsewhere in First Words. After much work, many hours of meetings, a lot of head scratching, and a hope and dream for God’s great future for First Church, the Leadership Team has voted to hire an architect to help us, first, study our present facilities—their condition, their future, and whether we are using the space we have to its maximum potential. We are bursting at the seams in the children’s ministry area, for example. What do we do with older buildings? The architect will take us through a thorough process of evaluation and dreaming and, some months from now, prepare for us a master plan for the future. This is something much needed, and I ask your prayers as we seek to discern God’s will for the future of this great church. More info will be coming very soon, and all of you will have opportunities for input.

This Sunday we’ll hear from the last summer intern, we’ll hear about Project AGAPE in a mission moment from Bishop Charlene Kammerer, and, as we prepare for the Connection event in two weeks, we’ll focus like last week on the image of the Body of Christ—so central in our understanding—and what it means that we each have a gift for the good of the whole.

 See You Sunday at “the living Body of Christ” Place!


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