Friday, February 6, 2009

Sorry for the long break...

Greetings, sports fans. I'm sorry for the huge gap in my postings. You see, two major events have occupied my attention: The United Methodist Church appointed me to a new church, resulting in an unusual January move; and the Steelers made a successful run at the Super Bowl! Both of these things are exciting, but the move thing really takes a lot out of you. I am thankful for many praying, supportive friends and colleagues in both my former congregation and in the new one.

The Sterlings are now the parsonage family at First United Methodist Church in Warren, PA. Warren is a beautiful little town plunked down in the middle of the Alleghany National Forest. First UMC is an historic church designed after a 13th Century cathedral, located in the historic district of the community. We are both honored and pleased to have been deemed worthy of this appointment. But still, moving in January to a venue far north of I-80 is an adventure. Living and working among boxes of one's own accumulated "stuff" is never treat, but in sub-zero weather, it is even more of a challenge. Warren First is a large, bustling congregation with many programs and ministries. Walking into the senior minister's position in the middle of the program year has made life interesting, too. Many denominations--or independent churches--"hire" their pastors after a series of interviews and getting to hear them preach. We United Methodists are appointed by a Bishop, and are simply "swapped out" on a single date. What this means, in my case for instance, is that a beloved pastor who served this church for almost eleven years is just suddenly "not there" on Sunday, and the "new guy" (that's me) is standing in front of a room full of grieving strangers. I will never cease to be amazed at how well this sudden transition often goes. It truly makes one believe more deeply in the grace of God and in the tolerance of God's people!

If you are a steeler fan, you are probably still clutching your heart, or trying to get it back down your throat into your chest. The Super Bowl was awesome--now that they won--but during that last five minutes, I was about ready to give up football for knitting. Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers' quarterback, was like Moses leading his people to the promised land after that late Cardinal touchdown that sure seemed like the final, crushing blow to fans of the black and gold. Yup, January was eventful--a new job, a new community, and a Lombardi Trophy.

I want to thank all of my dear friends and former parishioners in Sharon, PA who made our sojourn there such a blessing. We truly had a ball. I hope we did some effective ministry together; I think we did. We will miss the Shenango Valley. Now, we are looking forward to seeing what Warren looks like without being covered with snow, which the natives here say we will see about August(!). I'll try to do something with my Blog more often, friends. But until then, Grace and Peace!

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