With an arm full of newly acquired books I left Dr. Mensah’s offices early November 2010 knowing that I was about to embark on a new career in Law via Political Science. While in the elevator I turned on my cell phone and begun searching through the messages and found one from the Pastoral Search Committee of Lendrum Mennonite Brethren Church, a congregation on the south side of Edmonton that my wife and I enjoyed joining in worship with once a summer for the past four years. I called the Chair back and he informed me that the church was looking for a couple of pastors and I said I was looking at a stack of political science textbooks and an LSAT exam in the summer because over the years I had found myself involved with pastoral work that involved more administration, building projects, leadership techniques, program maintenance and felt that there must be more qualified and impassioned individuals to fill those types of positions. I was through with being that type of a pastor. However, I would turn in the newly acquired books back into the waiting selves of Dr. Mensah if I could be a part of a community where, as a pastor, I could spend the bulk of my time preaching, teaching, praying and visiting. I was informed that would work well within LMBC and nine months after my first day on the job I have found that to be so.
In my nine months I have had the opportunity to journey with the church community through the subversive text of Colossians in a five part sermon series entitled Suburban Dream, a twelve week series in the parables and prayers of Jesus in his Samaritan travels and within those book ends of sermon series were a few stand alone sermons on Lists, Prodigals and couple on Advent. In all of these sermons I never felt the inclination to “dumb” or “water” down anything. LMBC has a reputation for being willing to wrestle through thoughts, ideas and opinions and the reputation is one that is merited. The post-sermon Sunday School discussions that I was a part of were lively, challenging and ultimately life-giving. My other responsibility to the Sunday School program lay with the College and Careers group in which we studied Rob Bell’s book Love Wins.
In my nine months I have had the privilege of having over fifty informal meals and coffees with various members, adherents and people interested in finding out more about LMBC. My family and I have experienced true Mennonite hospitality. This also has given me much needed insight into the experience, dreams and fears of those who call LMBC their home.
The year was not without pain for our church family. Expressed and unexpressed pain was carried by many within our church family. The loss of loved ones and painful diagnoses from Doctors seemed to happen all too frequently. On Tuesday February 28, 2012 many of us gathered to mourn and remember our brother, uncle, cousin and friend F.D. Standing on the platform most Sundays as I look to my left where Fred used to sit when he wasn’t serving the church or when I look straight ahead to the sound both where much of his service was spent, the lose is felt again.
When I told my fellow pastoral colleagues that I was moving on to become a part of a church community that would allow me to focus on prayer, teaching, preaching and visiting they often would say; “We will see how long that last.” They couldn’t believe it was possible for a pastor to spend the bulk of her time doing these things. They couldn’t see how a church could function without the pastor wearing all the different hats they were accustomed to wearing. My fellow colleagues doubted the plausibly of the LMBC model because they had never meet H.J. who with efficiency and care helped the board to move as smoothly and efficiently as possible. They had never met any of the Commission Chairs who on top of their commitment to employers and family went over and above in their commitment to their commission. They doubted the plausibility of having lay preachers as a serious component of formal worship because they had never meet A.V, D.H, D.E. and M.K. who all in their unique way added much needed perspectives to our faith.
I will need to schedule another visit to Dr. Mensah’s office because I have some books of his that are long overdue. Books I will not be reading anytime soon because I have a church family that has given me the opportunity, privilege and responsibility to be a pastor who preaches, teaches, prays and visits.
May we experience even more grace and even more peace in the year to come.