During the January 25th congregational meeting, it was discovered that the previous year's entry was mistakenly put in the 2014 annual report under the Pastor's Report section. Here is the correct and updated report by Pastor Michael that should have been included in the 2014 report:
Dear Members and Friends of FPCE,
I knew there was something different about this place. I felt it back in the summer of 2012. I still remember that sunny, warm, July morning. The Pastoral Nominating Committee searching waited for me in the Pastor’s study. I was right on time. A good-looking, perpetually tanned, athletic Brad Masten answered the door, gave me a warm, welcoming smile, a firm handshake and we plunged into the interview. Ninety minutes later, I left the building but already carried this congregation in my heart. I had experienced something new for me as a pastor. As I spoke with the committed, articulate, energetic people on the PNC, I felt at home. I feel the same way today. I am profoundly blessed to serve as your Pastor. A few thoughts I’d like to share with you as we move into our 29th month together:
I AM THANKFUL
My how this church has grown! This congregation endured some difficult years. The issues you confronted were important, the years of conflict seemed to drag on forever. But in the end you - the dedicated members of this fellowship - emerged humbled, more disciplined, more mature and deeply committed to becoming “A Community Church.” I am grateful for your inquisitive minds, your thirst for spiritual development, your quest for effective mission and service and the compassion you show toward one another—and me and my family. After a painful parting from my previous call, I now rejoice, just as the Psalmist declared: “My mouth is filled with laughter, my tongue with shouts of joy.” (Ps. 126:2)
I AM HOPEFUL
As I look out at those who gather for Sunday morning worship, I am encouraged by what I see. Four generations are represented, from Florence Pickels to Sophia Grace. People from different levels of income and different racial backgrounds sit together in mutual love and support. The new members and frequent visitors all agree: this congregation accepts them at they are. There is no “FPCE member template.” I am hopeful that we will embrace future visitors in that same Christ-like spirit; where “there is no longer (division) between Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female; for all of you are one in Christ.” (Galatians 3:28)
I AM ENERGIZED
No doubt, the Lord is testing the main-line Protestant churches. In many ways, we mainliners have become side-liners. I’m sure we all grieve that reality. Since the late ‘90’s, the mainline churches have sometimes tried to incorporate, even imitate, the ever-growing, contemporary, mega-church model. I believe we are moving out of that stage, and I am encouraged. We need to be more creative and disciplined in nearly everything we do, but, trust me, a myriad of ministry models are working their way into the imaginations of mainline church leaders Instead of ruing our lessened impact on society, ministry and mission that grows out of the natural strengths of congregations such as FPCE are multiplying every year. I thumb through the books piled on my desk, at least four recent purchases speak directly to our situation. And I have yet to plumb the depths of on-line resources. I’m 61. I’ve been a pastor for 31 years. In many ways I believe my ministry is just getting started. Your readiness to try new things only encourages me even more. “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, (is) what God has prepared for those who love him.” (I Corinthians 2:9)
I AM PRAYERFUL.
I invite, no, I strongly encourage all of you to pray that the leadership of FPCE is able take us to the next step of our journey. Pray that, as one united congregation, we discern, persevere, patiently await and boldly follow where God leads. May we never forget: “with God, all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
In Christ’s service,
Michael P. Rucker, Pastor
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