20 Years

Twenty years ago on New Year’s Eve I arrived with my family to move into the church parsonage and begin my pastorate at The Congregational Church of Huntington. We left Denver, Colorado, on the day after Christmas and drove across country with two kids, a dog, two cats, and a rabbit. I was behind the wheel of the biggest U-Haul truck pulling a car on a trailer and my wife drove our mini-van. Our children alternated between riding with me and her. The dog was in the van, the rest of the animals rode in the trailered car.

After six days of travel it was such a joy to arrive at the parsonage to see a big group of church members waiting to greet us and help us unload on New Year’s Eve. It took them almost no time to put all our possessions into the home and then we all went to the home of Dave and Monica Willard for supper and to welcome in the New Year in Centerport New York. This great welcome was but a taste of the hospitality and love that has been present for me and my family over the past twenty years.

The only thought that is more astounding than the fact that I actually did all that, is that it was twenty years ago. I am astounded not only because it does not seem like such a long time, but also because, to be perfectly honest, I never imagined I would stay here this long. The opportunity to serve this church was attractive enough to make me want to move my family across country, but I felt that after a few years I would move back west to be closer to my extended family.

We have come a long ways. I have probably changed more than the congregation, but we have all grown. And we have a long way to go. It is a different sort of pastorate to be in one place so long. I am very aware that this requires intentional efforts on my part, and the part of the congregation, to stay fresh and interesting. The last thing I want is to become too complacent and stale. There are a lot of benefits from longevity. Particularly in the deep relationships, even multi-generational, that one may form. The relationships may lead to a strong congregation, but we also need to be constantly reaching out to others.

For now let me say that my ministry has had all the satisfaction, challenges, joys and pains that I could imagine in my life. I have, and still am, enjoying the relationships that come with staying in one place. We continue to make a difference in the Huntington community with the message of God’s radical love for all people.

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