Let’s Grow Together (May 2022 Newsletter Article)

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth… For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.” -1 Corinthians 3:6-7, 9

With pictures up on the walls and bookshelves fully loaded, I’m settling into my new office space. Flipping through my calendar, days are filling in and I’m aware of the pattern of meetings and gatherings that recur on a weekly and monthly basis. Most days I enter the building with more than half-a-clue about what the day will include – a sign of progress.

Picture from Pastor Peter’s Installation on April 23 & 24

Officially ‘installed’ as of April 23 and 24, as my roots begin to branch out in this new place and this new role, I’m grateful for all who have prepared the soil for my arrival. From the thoughtful work of the call committee, to the support offered by my fellow pastors and staff members, and the greetings/prayers/words of encouragement offered by so many, I am where I am and growing as I am because of you.

Yes, “God gives the growth,” as Paul reminds us, and we all have parts to play – working together, preparing God’s soil, and building God’s beloved community here, now, and for generations to come.

Stepping back into a leadership role at Shepherd of the Valley after nearly two decades serving elsewhere, I’m mindful of generational shifts and grateful for the good work that God has done through so many over the past 40 years. A few weeks after the vote to call me as the next Learn Pastor at SOTV, a couple of chance encounters in between Ash Wednesday services affirmed this move for me and my family. Two people I had known as youth and who I had traveled with on one of my first visits to Tanzania were in the gathering area; watching my daughters meet and run around with their children signaled a sea change and helped me to imagine what the future might look like here. Fast forward to the Saturday Easter service, and I found myself in the position of giving communion by name to members of the congregation who have been mentors of mine. I, who had been nurtured in the faith by them, was now in a position to do the same in turn. Although exchanges were brief, they caused a welling in my heart and brought a hint of a tear to my eye.

As a congregation, we are on fertile ground because of those who have prepared the soil ahead of us. We will grow as we follow God’s call for us. Whether it be in pastoral and staff roles or volunteers as ushers, communion servers, greeters, guides, and VBS helpers, we have been blessed by so many. With the return of more in-person programming and events, there are plenty of opportunities for you to grow where you’re planted. Read this newsletter for all current opportunities.

On May 22, we’ll be concluding our 40th anniversary commemoration with a congregational picnic, from 12:00 – 2:00 pm. With live music, food, and all kinds of festivities, it’ll be a fantastic way to kick off the summer season and to celebrate the abundance that has grown in this corner of God’s field. I look forward to seeing you there, and for the opportunity to share stories of what was while imagining what God might call forth in the weeks and months to come.

All thanks be to God,