This past Monday evening, Mary and I had the opportunity to renew our friendship with Larry and Lynn Harris, old friends from our days in seminary. Back in the 1970s, they were young newlyweds, as Mary and I were, and we would gather each Saturday evening for dinner, board games, and watching Fantasy Island. (Our tastes in television were rather unrefined back then!)
Larry retired last month after serving 34 years in pastoral ministry, the last 31 years at Olivet United Methodist Church in New Jersey. So it was wonderful to catch up with Larry and Lynn and talk about life, ministry, and this new stage of life.
Their oldest son, Jason, is the Director of Worship Ministries at Browncroft Community Church here in Rochester. Jason is also Mary’s and my godson. We are quite proud of him! (The photo above is of me, Larry, and Jason.)
I greatly admire Larry and Lynn. Seventeen years ago they, along with their four children, were in a traffic accident. Lynn and the kids emerged okay; Larry was rendered a quadriplegic and, as a result, has pastored the last half of his ministry from a wheelchair. He has demonstrated wonderful faith and determined courage.
People like Larry and Lynn inspire me. Whenever I meet people who have chosen to follow Jesus, even though the path has been quite difficult, I celebrate such faithfulness and integrity. Don’t you?
Maintaining the Façade
In last week’s Dangling, I spoke of the views out of my office windows. Last week it was P4K children washing their toy cars, this week it is Bill Sullivan and his crew scraping and painting the large columns on the façade of Parmerter Chapel.
The columns, as you have probably noticed, have been looking a bit neglected recently. This summer’s coat of paint is, regretfully, only a stopgap measure. Paint no longer adheres to the wood of the columns; Pearce’s Property Committee is considering long-range solutions. I don’t usually encourage maintaining facades, but in this case, I highly recommend it!
Throughout 2014, I’ve included some information on Pearce’s accounting process. Assisted by Bill Smout, a member of our Finance Committee, the purpose of these brief articles has been to help you gain some insight into our church’s financial practices.
This week, I want you to understand our bookie. Wait, I think I have the title wrong. I should have said “our bookkeeper,” as I understand they are distinguished from bookies!
Jessica Alcorn, known as “Jess” around the office, is the young lady responsible for virtually all of Pearce’s financial recordkeeping.
What does our bookkeeper do? She notes the contributions on each person’s giving record and mails that record at year’s end. (Helpful to you, I am sure, at tax time!) Jess also administers the preparation of our payroll, pays all the bills, and handles receipts and disbursements for Pearce’s food ministry, Common Grounds Café, and our rental properties on Orchard Street. She maintains thorough records of all categories of budget spending and performs monthly bank reconciliations.
In addition to the many mundane and routine functions of her job, Jess tries to be a creative steward of Pearce’s funds. She is constantly seeking ways to cut costs by carefully reviewing the goods and services we use and the vendors that provide those products.
I appreciate Jess’s contribution to our team and the way she helps maintain our financial integrity as a congregation.
A New Decade
I want to express my appreciation for the many gestures of affection showered on me upon the occasion of my 60th birthday last week. Or, as Mary pointed out, the beginning of my seventh decade of life!
I should probably take this opportunity to disclose that the years have taken their toll on me, in particular on my knees. Do you remember the Chicago Tribune column from 1997: “Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.”
All of this to say I’ll be getting a knee replacement for my right knee on November 3 of this year. I’d rather not announce this procedure; it’s rather embarrassing at my “young age!” But those in the office have to block out my schedule for November and thought I’d better just be up front about it all and thus insure that people won’t think I am avoiding them later this fall.
Well, that’s probably more information than you wanted to know. But thanks, again, for the birthday wishes!
Beth is Back!
I was glad to have Common Grounds, Pearce’s café, open once again after a long summer hiatus. But even more so, I was pleased to encounter Beth Honan when I walked into the shop on Monday for my morning decaf. Beth, as you probably know, recently returned from a seven-month-stint as a missionary in Romania.
In Beth’s final blog while still in Romania, dated August 15, she wrote the following:
“I’ve struggled some with knowing exactly what my purpose here was. It’s hard to look back and wonder if everything I invested and gave really made a difference, or if I pleased God with it. It’s been an interesting struggle as I’ve realized that I can’t think so much on that, or then I put too much focus on myself and what I’ve done, rather than on God’s work, timing, and plan.
I followed Him in coming, and I hope I gave my best. I have to trust Him with His purpose. It’s a lot harder to have clear perspective when it’s you looking back, but I’m starting to see that if I stop focusing so much on what I did and gave, and more on just God himself, I forget to worry about whether or not what I did was enough and instead can find joy in the fact that He wanted me to be a part and He will never stop working.
I would ask for prayer through these next few days, and as I adjust at home again. I would ask for prayer for all of the ministries I’ve written about over the months, and I’d ask for prayer for my host family. Even down to the last days, they are difficult to understand, and this is the hardest area for me to trust God’s plan in.
I am greatly looking forward to seeing each of you in a short number of days. Your prayers, your letters of encouragement, your thoughts, your investment all the way through these 7 months, and so much more has meant the world to me. Thank you for showing me what the body of Christ really means, and setting that example for me. It’s been a joy to be connected with you, and I’m looking forward to communication in person very soon!”
It is great to have Beth back!