Today was our first Sunday at First Wesleyan Church, Shippensburg with me as the new lead pastor. It was quite an historic occasion. I found out this morning that it was 11-years ago to the day that our church moved to its current location on Walnut Bottom (yes, this is for real) road.
I was thankful to have Rev. Lester Swope as our guest speaker this morning – it allowed me the opportunity to breathe a bit and to focus on helping Jess with the unpacking and home-making process that is so important to the stability of our family during this transition! I was grateful that the leadership at First Wesleyan made this a part of the transition!
I arrived early this morning to the church and made my way around to the various doors and light switches getting acquainted with the process of “opening”.
When folks began to arrive I quickly greeted them with an empty name tag and a Sharpie in-hand asking for their name and if they’d be willing to wear the sticker. I only had one humorous “no” – the rest were willing to go along with my cheat-sheet name tags! Even my one humorous “no” relented and she sported her name tag proudly.
I met Rev. Swope in the lower foyer of the church and began to get to know him a bit – I found out quickly that he was very involved with Haiti – having been a missionary there many years ago – I also got the quick-story of his association with our church and made sure to thank him again and again for being there this morning.
My vice-chairman, Dayton, began the service this morning with a greeting and announcements. He then helped lead a few worship songs and then dismissed us for the “meet and greet” handshaking time. I went up front to briefly greet and thank the congregation for their outpouring of love to us already in our first week – they had provided a “pantry blessing” in the foyer of at least ten bags of groceries from numerous families for us to take back home and stock our shelves! I also thanked those who helped us unpack on Tuesday and those who delivered us meals throughout the week to ease our transition!
After prayer and offering I welcomed Rev. Swope to deliver God’s Word.
He had us turn to Exodus 20 where he read a few verses reminding us that God commands us to worship ONLY Him. His message revolved around the question, “Who do you worship?”
Rev. Swope ended the message with a challenge to the church to surround me as their new pastor with support and prayer and he literally asked for those willing to accept God’s call on them to support me as their shepherd to stand. When he made the “ask” I was overwhelmed at the congregation’s response both audibly and by their standing. It was a powerful moment for both Jessica and me as we do feel the weight of our new charge – to know we are overwhelmingly supported by our new church family!
We thank God for today’s service and for Rev. Swope and his willingness to preach God’s Word and to encourage and challenge us at First Wesleyan!