Twenty years ago this past week, I began my ministry with the Conejo Valley Church of Christ. It was a week before the inauguration of President George W. Bush and nine months before the calamitous events of 9/11. Our daughters were 7, 4 and 2 years old and I was what now seems a youthful 37!
In my first Family News article, from January 21, 2001, I articulated my hopes for us, meditating on Paul’s words in Philippians 2: “I pray that God will empower us to be like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose, that our attitude may be the same as that of Christ Jesus, the Master servant.” My first sermon was titled “The Foolishness of God,” which focused on 1 Corinthians 1:18-25. Reflecting on the “foolish” wisdom of the cross, I suggested that the cross reveals the heart of God, the true nature of our sin, and the depth of God’s grace toward us.
Since that first Sunday, we’ve shared in the Lord’s Supper together over 1000 times and I’ve preached roughly 800 sermons (you’re a patient bunch!). We’ve rejoiced in over 160 baptisms, welcomed more than 150 households to our congregation, shared in 20 Easter celebrations, participated in 19 newborn dedication services, and partaken in 17 fall retreats. During these years, I’ve had the pleasure of serving with sixteen elders and their wives. It has been my great privilege to share my entire ministry here with Jack and Penny, and most of it with Rene, along with Travis and Kathia for the past few years.
Thank you for sharing these two decades of ministry! Thank you for partnering with us in serving our community, in nurturing faith in children and teens, in welcoming seekers and new believers, in building one another up in faith and good works, in supporting world missions and going on mission trips, and in using our God-given gifts to “Be the Blessing” in our community and beyond. Thank you for loving Carrie, for befriending me, and for the blessing you have been to each of our daughters! To this day, our girls keep in touch with their youth group friends, treasuring the bonds they formed as they grew up together in our congregation.
As we continue our ministry together, I observe that our work here is not finished! Our community and our world are in desperate need of the Good News of Jesus. A lonely and broken world is in need of a kind word, a helping hand, a word of hope, a song of joy, a true friend. Everywhere we turn we have opportunity to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick, visit the imprisoned. May God bless us as we continue to journey together in faith!
Love in Christ,