First off, WMD is West Michigan District of the Wesleyan Church. It dawned on me this morning that I have spent well over half my life as a pastor in this District. We moved here in 1978 to pastor a small church in Battle Creek and have been in four other churches along the way: Jackson Central, Berkley Hills and Lansing Faith.
It’s been a great run. We’ve raised three children and had the support of the District when there were tough times. We’ve made great friends along the way and learned more than seminary could have ever taught us about leading churches and loving God’s people.
We have been through three district superintendents in our stay here. Each one brought unique things to the table. Vaughn Drummonds (he of white pants and white shoes) set the standard by drawing excellent pastors into the district. He did this in large part by making sure the churches were taking good care of the pastors and providing well for them. In the long view, it is what set WMD up for the kind of success it has experienced. Thanks, Vaughn.
Ron Kelly was a friend before he became our DS. He remained a friend and support as Marcia and I went through some of the darkest days of our personal lives. He also led the district through some transition years. I watched him grow as an administrator and learned from him as he led through dealing with some difficult people and situations. His administrative skills grew to such a degree that the denomination snatched him away to serve as general secretary. (Miss you Ron and Tana!)
Then came Mark Gorveatte and a whole new level of energy was infused into the district. Mark raised the level of excellence even further and made sure that our pastors and churches were healthy. Mark is known for church planting, but what gets overlooked is the effort he has put into trying to increase the health of established churches. Once again, I’ve learned a great deal from Mark and consider him to be both mentor and friend. We will miss he and the WMD team.
In our 31 years here in WMD we have tended to step into churches that were tired and needing renewal. Now we are moving to the NMD to continue that same kind of service. Journey is a great church with an amazing core of leaders. It is our prayer that we will be able to see the church renewed and vibrant once more. Please keep us in your prayers as we begin this next leg (and probably finishing stretch) of our Journey.