For the past four weeks I have spent the Sunday School hour with the Bible and Spirit class First Corinthians. In the third chapter of that letter, Paul talks about the various pastors and leaders that have served the Corinthian church. Though Paul founded the church, other leaders came after him and helped the church to grow and flourish.
Paul uses several images to talk about how different leaders bring different gifts to a congregation. He describes the church as a growing plant when he says: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” Using a different image he says, “like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it.”
In the past few weeks we have announced the departure from our staff of Rev. Becky Peeler, our Pastor of Children and Family Ministries, and Rev. Lisa Gwock, our Pastor of Missions and Outreach. Becky is retiring from a long career in children’s ministry, and she is looking forward to life on Lake Lure, in her home state of North Carolina. Lisa and her husband Eddie are moving to Atlanta to be closer to their three grandchildren. Both decisions are happy ones. They are excited to begin these new chapters in their lives, and we as a congregation rejoice with them.
Both Becky and Lisa have done so much to build up the ministry of Christ at West End. Becky has established “ministry milestones” for the children as they progress through each grade. She helped design and grow the Family Christmas Eve service, and has nurtured and implemented many new ministries for our children and their families.
Lisa has organized and led mission teams to Guatemala and has gotten West End connected as a partner with Nashvillians Organized for Action and Hope (NOAH). She can be seen on any given Sunday morning collecting diapers, helping folks who come the church asking for assistance, and signing people up for service and advocacy.
Becky is not the first Pastor of Children and Family Ministries at West End, nor is Lisa the first Pastor of Missions and Outreach. But both of them have “watered” and “grown” the ministries in their charge. They have moved us forward in mission and ministry, and for that I give thanks to God.
It is never easy to say good-bye to friends who have been part of our lives and part of our faith community. But the Apostle Paul reminds us that while each of us plays our part in the ministry of the church, God provides the growth. God will bring to us new friends who will build on the foundation that has been laid. God will work among us and lead us to new places and new people.
As we move through the next few weeks and months, please be in prayer for Becky and Lisa, that God would continue to bless them and work through them in new ways. Be in prayer for our Staff-Parish Committee and our specific Search Committees, that God will give them wisdom and discernment. And be in prayer for the ministries at West End, that God will strengthen and increase our witness in the world.
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for all those who have planted, watered and nurtured the ministry of Christ here at West End. Help us to trust in you in this season of change, knowing that you will continue to help us grow in love and ministry. In Christ we pray, Amen.
Scripture for Sunday: Acts 10:44-48